A Remodeled 1960s Contemporary La Jolla Condo


“It was exciting to take something so dreary and turn it into a jewel box,” says Arizona designer Berkley Vallone of the outdated La Jolla condominium she redesigned as a beach getaway for her client, Sally Odegard. The 1963 two-bedroom unit, with its dark woodwork and choppy layout, had never been remodeled, but Odegard recognized its potential. “The space is all about the location,” says Odegard, who resides in Arizona and escapes to La Jolla on the weekends. “It has great ocean views and natural light. To me, a second home should be different from where we live primarily. It should feel like a physical and emotional getaway. This space had the bones for that.”

Vallone teamed with local builder Andrew Kerner to gut the unit. The goal was to open up the kitchen, as much as structurally possible, and to dispense with the second bedroom in order to create a spacious great room. “I wanted the condo to be comfortable for me alone,” says Odegard, “but I also wanted to be able to entertain friends and to have room for guests to spend the night.” To accommodate overnight visitors, a Murphy bed stashed behind paneled doors takes advantage of a niche in the great room. “We custom-made it to fit the space seamlessly and blend with the new millwork,” says Kerner. “Details really matter when working within a small footprint. Everything counts.”

For entertaining larger parties, Vallone designed an opaque-glass kitchen counter to extend into the great room on a polished steel pedestal, creating an eat-in area or sideboard as needed. She also devised a built-in banquette across the room to provide extra seating around a custom-crafted dining table.

“Our aim was to create a light, airy, open space with classic finishes and traditional materials. Pretty yet timeless,” says Vallone of her overall approach. Ivory-hued walls, glossy white woodwork and light-oak floors help achieve this look. The designer chose white marble to distinguish the bathrooms and designed custom cabinets with glass countertops to define the kitchen. The effect is clean-lined and fresh, sophisticated and spa-like. The neutral palette also provides a fitting backdrop for Odegard’s contemporary art collection and helps keep the focus on the ocean outdoors. Still, seaside-inspired elements found their way in. “I used a lot of reflective materials, like mirror, glass and chrome, which impart a sense of water to the sunlit rooms,” explains Vallone. “I also incorporated blue in an unexpected way with the television console.”

Other furnishings in the main living space include a linen-covered sofa, two tufted leather chairs and a pair of armchairs, which can swivel out to face the serene seascape or in toward the room. All of the pieces are in easy-to-maintain materials that work well in the beach setting. “We chose the furniture very carefully,” says Vallone of the transitional-style pieces. “We didn’t want anything to disrupt the view. So if something does stand out, it does so like a piece of jewelry.”

Among the standout items is an oversize glamorous coffee table that Vallone designed with an antique-glass top and ebonized-wood base. It provides a practical hardworking surface without visually blocking the space. “I also added some black accents to ground the room and pop against all of the light areas,” Vallone says of an ebonized bar chair, graphic ikat pillows and an inky vinyl textile she chose for the banquette seat. Sea grass, cowhide and raffia accessories serve a similar purpose, while providing a tactile contrast.

By combining the natural textures within a tailored aesthetic highlighted by glamorous touches, Vallone was able to put together a design that reflects both its location and its owner—and all within the condo’s modest footprint. Despite its size, says Vallone, “we were able to create so many beautiful experiences and destinations.”