Interior design is an art. Finding the right materials, fabrics, and accents to bring your home to life is no easy task. But when the home is set in scenic Northern California, nature can provide plenty of inspiration.
"This particular home was built in a Spanish architectural style, but much of the original charm was lost when the previous owners renovated, leaving the next owners (our clients) with an interior that didn’t match the exterior and lots of builder-grade finishes," designer Brett Foken, founder of Decorotation Interiors, tells MyDomaine. "We took the challenge of reverting the interior back to its original charm while embracing some new modern elements."
We took the challenge of reverting the interior back to its original charm while embracing some new modern elements.
This 4-bedroom, 3-bathroom single-story home in San Jose, California boasts 2,500 square feet and was originally built in 1955. When designing the space, Foken had to balance between budget and the clients' preferences.
"When we are working on any project, we prioritize design choices based on how the clients live their day-to-day life," Foken explains. "For example, we like to know where they spend most of their time (usually the kitchen), how they like to stay organized (tucked away or displayed), and how they want to feel when they walk into a space. Our design and material choices aren’t only about being beautiful on photography or on film, but they need to age well as the client uses their space."
When renovating the kitchen, main bathroom, and guest bathroom, Foken also had to be sure to stay within the approved price range.
"Our other job is to be the budget managers, which means we take the dreams of our clients and make them come to life through thoughtfully designed spaces that stay within their means," Foken says. "This doesn’t mean DIY or even cheap, it means thoughtful choices and prioritizing where to allocate budget all throughout the process. We love heirlooms, vintage pieces, collected items as well as custom-made furnishing, fixtures, and finishes."
Keep scrolling to see how Foken brought her signature style to this gorgeous home.
For the whole space, Foken used the original Spanish-style architecture as her starting point and then focused on the floorplan and flow of each room.
"While we didn’t move any walls or make any major structural changes, we still wanted to make sure we were maximizing the footprint of each space," Foken says. "For example, the kitchen was actually quite large, so we took full advantage and designed an extra-large island that still allowed plenty of walkway space surrounding, double the storage space that was there before, and an entire end that we left open for informal seating."
While we didn’t move any walls or make any major structural changes, we still wanted to make sure we were maximizing the footprint of each space.
The kitchen includes sage cabinets, some open shelving, and plenty of personal touches. Foken intentionally chose mostly natural stone materials—like the marble slab on the island—and plenty of wood to evoke an easy living vibe in the space.
"We wanted to use a combination of materials that felt more raw and lived-in to bring more richness and soul to the home," Foken says. "Vintage finds (like the rug in the kitchen, the hardware in the bathrooms, art, and accessories) were incorporated throughout to add more of a 'story' to the interior that better matched the exterior."
Foken designed the kitchen to balance both "richness and tranquility."
"We chose to keep the original hardwood floors and white walls, but wanted to add some calming color to break things up," Foken says. "We chose a sage green-tinted varnish for the oak cabinetry, so we’d be able to still see the grain of the wood and things would feel more textural. The island was made in oak as well and designed in a way to feel more like a stand-alone piece of furniture."
While incorporating the latest design trends (like open shelving) might be on your wish list, it's important to consider your lifestyle.
"This family loves their time in the kitchen and wanted it to feel warm, open, and welcoming, but felt strongly about being able to 'put things away,' so they can function without a lot of mess," Foken says. "A lot of functional storage was key."
The guest bathroom evokes the same laid-back, yet well-styled feeling as the rest of the home.
"We decided to switch the placement of the toilet and vanity for better flow and added a combination of handmade tiles on the floor, wainscotting painted a slightly darker shade of white for an added layer and slight contrast, limestone tile on the walls and floor of the shower, aged brass fixtures, vintage hooks found on Etsy, and a mirrored pendant light," Foken says. "We decided to save a little on the vanity and went with a pre-made option from Room & Board instead of custom, but switched out the knobs for some vintage ball knobs I found on Etsy and added a raw brass faucet."
The best part of the guest bathroom? The handmade floor tiles the client had been holding onto for years.
"She had bought the tiles from local maker Forrest Middleton at one of his 'seconds sales,'" Foken says. "We knew the floor in this bathroom would be the perfect place to showcase these beautiful tiles, each one handmade and perfectly imperfect. It was love at first sight!"
The guest room shower is simple yet stunning, a trademark of Foken's design style.
"I love to combine historical charm with modern elements to create liveable spaces," Foken says. "I choose products that are made in an environmentally conscious way, and I design for longevity (both in style and materials), so handmade products and quality craftsmanship are big priorities.
I love to combine historical charm with modern elements to create liveable spaces.
"I always crave a design challenge and opportunities to expand my aesthetic, and can’t help but infusing all of my projects with an effortless and comfortable West Coast style, which to me means they have a level of cozy and calm with a healthy dose of 'hygge,'” she continues.
For the main bathroom, the goal was to add contrast to the space with some moody color, but still keep things light and airy. Foken accomplished this aesthetic by layering a black Belgian terracotta floor tile with a rich teal zellige tile on the wall.
"We gravitated towards a mixture of earthy tones and rich colors, like the teal tile in the bathroom and sage green in the kitchen," Foken explains. "We wanted to create some contrast and depth with the colors and textures we combined but wanted things to also feel calm and breathable."
Though Foken lists designers like Heidi Caillier, Jessica Helgerson, and Nickey Kehoe as well as Pinterest and Instagram as inspiration, much of her style is influenced by the great outdoors.
"I love to hike and go on outdoor adventures around the Bay Area," Foken says. "There is so much natural beauty here in Northern California. I’m endlessly inspired by the rugged coastline, the colors, the trees, the tall grasses in the hills, the sun shining through the eucalyptus trees in Golden Gate Park, the wildflowers in the spring. All of it. Nature is always the first place I turn for inspiration."
Though there is much to love about this home, Foken's favorite detail is seeing her clients' dreams come to life. She takes pride in "the fact that each space complements our clients' lifestyle, personality, and design dreams fully. You can feel the love and light shining through in each space—a perfect reflection of our kind, loving clients. I love that each space doesn’t feel too precious, but is still inspiring and beautiful in its own way."