At first, the design of this home sounds pretty standard. It was in great condition, though a bit dated. Katie Gebhardt, founder of Solstice Interiors, was tasked with taking the existing Spanish bones of the home and adding a modern, California casual aesthetic. However, when you factor in that the house was built by the client’s father when she was a child and the client was now “swapping” it with her parents, you see the unique challenge Katie faced. She had to make it work for her client’s growing family, consider a layout that would work for large gatherings, and pay homage to its history. She tells us more:

We are so intrigued by this project! What can you tell us about the house itself?
This Spanish-style home is nestled in the scenic hills of San Marcos and was originally built by the client’s father when she was a kid – her family grew up on this property and in this home. They later built a small casita off the main house for my client, her husband, and son. With a growing family, they swapped houses with her parents and brought me on to bring the home to life and update old, outdated elements. The original Spanish style of the home really did influence design – it was important to play off what was there while implementing a fresh and modern take on the space that felt unique to them. We worked around existing brick walls, both exterior and some interior, terra-cotta tile hallways throughout the home, and all existing window and door placements and original headers.

Family dynamics aside, what were the goals for the redesign?
The clients, Erin and Chris Veit, live in this home with their two little ones – their four-year old son and one-year old baby girl. Their goals for the space were to open up the house as much as possible for family gatherings and hosting their loved ones in this special home. They really wanted to pay homage to the original style while adding their own fresh and modern updates.

The house was previously very sectioned off – the dining room was off the main family room with no access or connecting point between the two, and the kitchen was completely separated from the dining room by an oversized pantry. We completely opened up the space by relocating the pantry and making it smaller, opened up the dining room to the family room, so you can now easily flow from the kitchen, through the dining, and into the family room.

Did Erin and Chris have any must-haves?
Must-haves really included various kitchen details and appliances. They wanted a special bar-area zone for entertaining, a built-in coffee station, and an appliance garage. We created a special bar area with a custom, hand-painted tile across from the pantry and right between the dining/ kitchen and hidden appliance garage just to the left of the sink. (Ed. note: Katie shares more specifics in the slideshow!)

The home has an interesting history with the swap. How involved were her parents?
Her parents were around but really not involved in decision-making. Because Erin’s dad designed and built the house originally, we were actually able to consult with him on quirky construction issues that came up throughout the different phases. Erin’s parents love the updates to the house, but mainly love that they get to see their grandbabies every day!

How long did the project take, and what did the family say when they saw the finished space?
We worked in phases with this client, starting with the family room and kids’ bath in the first phase, the primary bath for the second phase, and the kitchen and surrounding dining rooms as the last phase. We first started in January 2019, and just wrapped up the last phase in October 2020. The clients were in disbelief when they saw the finished space! They couldn’t believe it was the same house she grew up in.

They felt the updates had such great, subtle nods to what was there before but was so much more beautiful and functional. Erin noted the open floor plan and layout of the kitchen was much more practical for their family, and they actually use their formal dining room now! They also loved that with the changes made, the space really felt like their own, and not like they were living in their parents’ old house.