The pros of this Santa Monica, CA home far outweighed the cons. Pro: It’s a dream location near 17th and Montana. Pro: It had gone through a major remodel and had good indoor/outdoor flow, a new kitchen, new appliances, and a host of high-tech upgrades. The con? “The home was short on character,” says interior designer Lisa Tornello. 

“The ceilings were tall, but the spaces lacked dimension,” Lisa recalls. “The fixtures were contractor-grade and a not-quite-big enough dining room proved challenging. There was 39 square feet of open shelving in the living room that made the room feel cluttered and no place for the homeowners to store their robust wine collection.”

The homeowners, a technology executive and an executive at a non-profit, brought in Lisa’s designer firm Millroad Studio to help overcome these challenges and design a refined-but-fun family home for them and their 3-year-old son. They tasked the design team to bring in the charm, find a storage solution for their wine, and upgrade their mudroom, powder room and guest room—with zero renovations involved.

Along with designer Chelsea Asermley, Lisa drew up a plan. “The family wanted the home to be low-key luxe and honor their proximity to the beach,” she shares. “They wanted to support local artisans and honor their craftsmanship.” The designer takes us through each room in the slideshow, proving that thoughtful, timeless upgrades can unlock an entirely new feeling. “The project took about 5 months,” she concludes. “The clients were ecstatic and said they couldn’t wait to host their family in the space.”