Fostering a sense of togetherness has always been the most important thing for one Carmel Valley family—and they wanted their home to not only reflect that conviction, but encourage it. “They’re a big tribe of six, plus a dog, and the whole house circles around fun and games and family activities,” says Kari Arendsen, the founder and design principal of Solana Beach-based Intimate Living Interiors. “That’s a huge part of who they are,” explains her partner and the firm’s lead interior designer, Tory Peterson.
What began as a modest refresh to their northwest San Diego Mediterranean-style abode (“we were just going to add a bedroom and expand the kitchen,” remembers the wife) quickly spun larger, culminating in a nearly full-home renovation as the couple’s dreams expanded. “We love to entertain; we’re the house that hosts all the family functions and where all the kids’ friends come,” the wife says, noting a wish list that included a home theater, game room, wine cave and vast outdoor kitchen, among other ideas. “Our intention was to create a real gathering spot.” Or as Arendsen puts it, “They wanted this house to have everything. Our goal was to keep it organic and seamless, yet have surprises tucked around every corner to optimize their desire to have fun in every room.”
Architect William Hayer reimagined the family’s home to realize their vision, recasting the existing layout as well as adding square footage—and to do so, the house was taken down to the studs. “They needed more bedrooms, more outdoor activity areas and more indoor ones too,” he says. The kitchen was extended with pocket doors connecting it to a sprawling outdoor cooking and dining loggia; the family gathering space was expanded and linked to a new game room and wine cave fitted with a secret speakeasy. The garage was reimagined as a home theater and a new children’s wing designed to contain a lofted playroom and additional bedrooms. “There wasn’t really anything we didn’t touch,” says builder Mark Agee. “It’s practically a whole new house.”
Open to the outdoors, the renovated home now takes full advantage of its semi-rural setting. “It’s tiered and perched on an acre, so there are different levels to this experience,” Peterson explains, pointing out the variety of outdoor spaces that balance the diverse and expansive interiors. The exterior property has morphed into a play space for children and adults alike: There’s a futsal court, a viewing pavilion with bleachers and an underground trampoline, as well as a grotto and an infinity pool looking out over the canyon. An exterior living room with custom channel tufted sectionals and a television creates another space to gather around.
In keeping with the family’s vibrant lifestyle, Arendsen and Peterson reined in the home’s palette by relying on natural hues and organic materials such as marble, white oak and limestone. “It’s very neutral, with tones that are native to the area,” explains Arendsen. Confirming the home’s kid-friendly vibe, the interior designers upholstered custom pieces in high-performance fabrics and conceived case goods (including the dining room’s arresting buffet and a plethora of dining and coffee tables) that comfortably welcome the active clan and their guests. These bespoke pieces are interspersed with vintage finds either sourced on buying trips that ranged from Texas to Bali or pulled from the inventory of Intimate Living Interiors’ retail showroom, ILI Be Home.
To top off the project, the firm designed a wall-mounted ring toss game, customized with a family logo and fitted into the game room. “We always try to do something special for our clients that nods to how we interpret them,” explains Arendsen. Adds the homeowner, “They definitely captured our family’s personality, how we’re all about fun and active entertaining. Plus, it’s a comfortable, very livable and functional home. It’s exactly what we wanted.”