When designing a four-bed, four-bath house in Corona del Mar, California, Jaime Zehner of JZ Interior Designs wanted to not only update the existing space, built in 1961, but truly make it a forever home for her clients.
"It was a dated, ranch-style home with a funky old layout—but it was located in an amazing neighborhood on a good lot," Zehner says of the house. "We knew we wanted to create an updated and cohesive layout of the home while utilizing more of the outdoor space."
Additionally, maximizing the home's stunning ocean view was also paramount during the design process, Zehner says.
"This home has an amazing view of the ocean, so we wanted an open entertaining space with higher ceilings and doors that opened into the courtyard and backyard to enable the whole space," she says. "Now, it really maximizes on that indoor/outdoor California weather."
To maximize the water view, altering the home's layout to make the space more open was essential. Though she stayed true to the original horseshoe layout of the home, Zehner explains that the home originally had a low ceiling and smaller, chopped-up rooms.
"We were able to open the layout, raise the ceiling, and expand the room so that the kitchen was more expansive and opened up to a large island and the living area," she explains.
These layout alterations continued upstairs. Zehner switched the location of the closet and bathroom in the primary bathroom to allow the bathroom to face the ocean, for example.
"Funny enough, the primary bathroom was the most difficult due to the materials incorporated in that space," she reflects. "We were set on a white marble for the shower and countertops, but it just felt cold which was so far from the rest of the home."
While at an open house, she discovered a white stone mosaic that she couldn't stop thinking about—and was later able to track it down and show her clients.
"We all knew that was it," Zehner says. "We used the mosaic on the wall with a similar colored grout so that it wasn’t too loud and you didn’t notice it until you were completely in the space. It reminded me of a seashell, and we added in a limestone floor that added the warmth we were looking for to the space."
And how would Zehner describe the style of the home? "We jokingly called it a modern coastal farmhouse because of the parts of styles we pulled inspiration from," she says. "We started with clean lines and timeless materials and built off of that to add in character."
While most of her clients' furnishings were updated during the renovation, Zehner was able to take a few special vintage pieces and repurpose them in the new space.
"We turned an antique buffet that was previously in storage into a large bar," she notes. "The clients had found a 14-foot industrial table years before and always knew it would be as the dining table. We also had an old industrial mailbox that sits beautifully at the end of a hallway and acts as storage. Those were the most fun and unique pieces to add in and see the impact they made in the home."
Those were the most fun and unique pieces to add in. They made such an impact in the home.
It's the small touches that truly make a house a home, Zehner comments. "We believe first and foremost that home is a feeling, and it’s our goal to help infuse that into every inch of a space," she reflects. "We believe that the real elevation of a home happens in the fine details."
When it comes to her own favorite components of the home, Zehner cites components that are "a bit more subtle, but add to the charm of the home." For example, she says, "The stone mosaic from the primary bathroom definitely tops my list, as well as the porthole in the swinging cafe door at the kitchen."