A note from our editors: 

It’s time for one of our favorite traditions! Each year, we spend the holidays reflecting on the stories and articles you loved most. It’s the “Best of Rue” and this is one of 2019’s top stories. Enjoy!

Previously published on March 11, 2019:

Okay, so “Spanifornia” may not be an established design style yet, but this project recently completed by Kate Lester makes a strong case for why it should be. 

Originally working in a cushy corner office in corporate America, Kate switched careers after realizing she was spending more time thinking about how to renovate and re-design said corner office than actually working in it. She says, “I knew I had an innate sense of scale, style, color, and a pretty good eye. So, one day I rolled the dice, quit my job, enrolled in design school (and took a huge pay cut) to follow my dream.” Design school was followed by time at boutique design firm, working her way up the ranks before establishing Kate Lester Interiors

We hear your client is one you have a long-standing relationship with – who’s home is this?  

The client for this project was actually the owner of the accounting firm we used to handle all of our personal and business finances. Needless to say, a detailed budget was priority numero uno for him. They had never worked with an interior designer before, so in the beginning, it was really about educating them on our process and managing deliverables and timeline expectations. Then, it was on to concepts, which is the fun part! A coastal-inspired color pin alette was a must but since the house was not a traditional beach cottage, a Spanish spin on the concept was in order. This family is very “California Cool,” so they didn’t want anything to feel too stuffy or over-decorated. Bright, comfortable, and livable were three really prominent words that kept floating around during our meetings and we could tell those were top of the list for this family. 

Any requirements or things they absolutely didn’t want? 

The entire house was this really dark and dingy Mediterranean monster when they bought it, so getting rid of heavy molding and the browns and beiges were a must. We stayed away from all of those warm neutrals and kept the contrast high and the colors fresh and chic. The floors were dark red-toned wood, there was colonial molding everywhere and all the millwork was a dark walnut color. Every time you turned around you were face to face with some sort of scroll detail or medallion. The whole house felt dark, heavy, formal and dated – all of that had to go.

Knowing you wanted to move away from that dark, heavy feel, what was your end goal?

While pulling inspiration imagery for the project in the studio we kept talking about the home taking on more of a Spanish aesthetic, but we still wanted it to (somehow) feel fresh and coastal. After a few late nights and a few margaritas, we came up with the term “Spanifornia” and it stuck. We pinned inspiration images of what that sort of concept would look like to us and then everything just started to come together. Washed-out woods, denim blues, encaustic tile details, and plenty of neutral texture with curated vintage finds.

See this “Spanifornia” home in the slideshow!