“Our family was living in San Francisco when a run-down property popped up in Sonoma. We put in an offer immediately,” interior designer Kara Haren recalls. “The house had significant deferred maintenance and ultimately needed to be taken down to the studs and lovingly built back up—a budding interior designer’s dream!” 

As the founder and principal of Along Came Lennox Interiors, Kara’s work is usually focused on her clients, so this was a great opportunity to home in on her personal style. “Since the home was a full gut, both exterior and interior, there was not a single design feature to anchor the project as a kick-off point,” she says. “The most challenging part of the project was deciding what direction to take the home stylistically because my heart wanted to go in a zillion different directions! The second toughest part was convincing my opinionated husband to jump on board with my ideas, and to strategically account for his!” It was also a hefty lift for Kara to find the time between her client work. She admits, “Most decisions were made after 8 p.m. when the day’s work was complete, and the kids were asleep!”

The house just a few blocks off the downtown square, which was one of the initial draws of the home. “It sits right outside the historic district of Sonoma, which influenced a more traditional design approach as we took the home down to the studs during the remodel,” Kara says. “Due to condition—dry rot, mold, leaking roof and windows, you name it! —we were only able to keep framing and foundation. We gutted and replaced everything else, including enlarging all the windows and doors, and removed a structural wall between the kitchen and living room.” 

The result is a beautiful family home they’re proud of. “After spending ten years in San Francisco, we were craving a slower pace of life and all the intimacy that comes with a small town,” she shares. The renovation took a year in total, but Kara says was well worth it. “Our kids, who visited the construction site weekly, shouted “’Do we finally get to live here?!’ We all cried tears of happiness the first night in our home.”

Take a tour in the slideshow.