The residents of San Carlos, CA lovingly refer to the town as the “City of Good Living” – and it’s no wonder why! With amazing views of the San Francisco Bay from end to end, it’s a beautiful place to call home. We’ve (virtually) visited San Carlos once or twice, care of California designer Emily Kates.  (Truly, who could forget this modern Tudor home?!) Today, Emily is sharing more of her work—this time in the form of thoughtfully designed family home for some of her close friends. Thinking sustainably and stylishly, the designer created a space that embodies Californian comfort. She tells us more:

Let’s go back to the beginning. What condition was this home in when you first saw it?
Simply put, this home had all the right bones, but all the wrong clothes. The potential was there, it was just shrouded in layers of custard yellow paint and pine green marble. But rather than recklessly ripping it all out, we approached things more sustainably and got creative with elevating and augmenting what was already there. We carefully stripped back the elements which felt dark and severe, with the goal of adding lightness and flow.  

 Tell us about your clients. What were their goals in hiring a designer?
The residents of this home happen to be very close friends, so I have spent a lot of time inside over the years. Originally, the rear dining chairs were sandwiched between the table and some existing (and also basically inaccessible) built-in cabinets, forcing guests to do a mid-section suck, and side shimmy to get in. It used to set off my designer alarm bells every time I visited, so one day I casually suggested a little reworking. This of course threw Pandora’s box wide open and before we knew it, we were off on a major design journey!  

That’s the best starting point! So, style-wise, what was your jumping off point? 
I always take note of my clients’ personal style because 9.5 times out of 10 it’s a direct reflection of their interior tastes as well. This particular client has a very refined, yet relaxed approach to fashion. They both love a high level of quality, but without any of the stuffiness- for her, think soft flowing layers, floral patterns, and elegant mixes of textures and materials. And guess what? I’d use those exact words to describe the design!  The clients and the home both have a distinctly refined, yet casual vibe, reflective of quintessential laid-back California style.

Let’s “walk through” the space. We’d love to know a bit about your design choices! 
Harmony and flow rule the day on this project. The palette of cream, shell, apricot and light russet work in tandem with texture, and pops of black. All of these elements repeat in unique ways in each space- keeping the rooms defined but still cohesive. 

Just beyond in the dining area, (the starting point of the whole project) the original cabinetry was partially rebuilt to include super functional banquette seating in a sturdy, vegan, dove gray leather. We added drawers below for seasonal dishware and replaced the tall uppers of the side cabinets with solid doors instead of glass, so that the client could stash her large collection of vases and candles. The original heavy rectangular table was replaced with a dramatic oval table in black cerused oak. The oversized foxed glass mirror and woven chairs add so much texture and I love how all the layers harmonize perfectly! There is a shimmery woven paper behind the mirror that is very subtle during the day but adds wonderful sparkle in the evenings. 

Readers can snag more details in the slideshow, but before we let you go, we’re curious—how long did the project take? Was it a big install and reveal, or done over time?
This project was completed in increments over many months, as my friend and I continued to pretend that we were done, all while actually scheming the next area to tackle.