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Midcentury Redux

From streamlined furnishings to inviting walls of glass, minimalism is alive and well at this Solana Beach home.

EXTRA POP In the living room, designer Kristianne Watts hung a decorative “broken egg” art element in white and gold leaf from Phillips Collection for some added depth and texture. The main level’s open floor plan flows from the living room to the formal dining area and around to the family-friendly media room, all opening to the outdoors via floor-to-ceiling folding doors.

Since its debut in the ’50s, midcentury-modern design has made a splash, and thanks to TV shows such as Mad Men, its signature streamlined style is as popular as ever. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Solana Beach home of East Coast native Joy Paeske and her California born-and-bred husband, Mike. Lured from Encinitas to their current neighborhood by one of the area’s top elementary schools—where their children (daughter, 9; and son, 7) now happily attend—they found the exact spot they wanted to call home on a nearby street and proceeded to do away with the property’s outdated features in lieu of a more modern yet warm and family-friendly residence.

At the onset of their search, the couple (he’s a commercial real estate manager; she’s an estate planning lawyer) knew they wanted a fixer-upper, and that is what they got. Built in the 1950s, the approximately 1,300-square-foot home they purchased was diminutive and offered some less-than-appealing characteristics, like old-fashioned rose and black tile, for example, in the downstairs powder room.

“When we were looking for a house, we knew we were going to tear most of it down so we could make it our home,” says Joy. They ended up taking it down to the studs and hiring a team of experts to help realize their vision. Among them was San Diego-based custom homebuilder Kerry Rutherford and award-winning Solana Beach designer Kristianne Watts—the latter known for her effortless use of rich wood tones and natural stone. Together, they worked with the pair to create a modern, family-friendly residence with clean lines, a warm color palate and wooden floors throughout.

Today the split-level home features a little more than 3,000 square feet of open living space that includes a kitchen, formal dining area, living room, media room, two children’s bedrooms, a guest bedroom and laundry/mudroom downstairs; plus an office space and master suite on the upper-level loft. The terraced backyard is a study in relaxation, complete with Monet-inspired landscaping (sporting vibrant shades of green, orange and purple); numerous seating and dining areas with Restoration Hardware and West Elm furniture placed throughout; a built-in grill and fire pit on the lower level; and vegetable gardens, fruit trees and a large play area/faux soccer field. There’s even an outdoor foot shower—inspired by one at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, Joy says—where the family and guests can rinse off before heading inside.

THE GREAT OUTDOORS The terraced backyard boasts vegetable gardens, fruit trees and a large play area above. On the lower level, a welcoming fire pit-centered lounge area features streamlined sofas from Restoration Hardware and woven gray high-back chairs from West Elm, all adorned with patterned outdoor pillows from Frontgate in cool purple and blue shades.

The automated home also includes myriad tech features such as a coded side door for easy, keyless access; customizable speaker and climate zones; and security cameras inside and out, all of which can be managed via phone.

Among Joy’s favorite spaces is the master bath: a private, spa-like retreat that boasts white porcelain flooring, quartz countertops, a glass backsplash, and a complementary mix of lava stone and mini-pebble wave mosaic tile. The bath leads to a walk-in closet, an organizer’s dream, complete with a place for everything, including wardrobes that appeal to both her professional and soccer-mom personas. Joy also loves the downstairs’ mudroom, along with a special storage nook underneath the stairs—a popular spot for the active family’s sports equipment.

The living room features a Starck-like horse-hoof table flanked by Barcelona-style chairs and three nesting tables of reclaimed wood that double as kids’ coloring stations and low stools for fireside seating. “The room is clean and modern, but really practical,” says Joy. “Kristi did a good job with that; it’s very inviting, and the kids can move the furniture around and sit by the fire.” And in the formal dining room, a custom built-in walnut and brass buffet holds an assortment of China and glassware, along with a wine refrigerator for the couple’s collection.

Mike—a modern industrial design enthusiast who originally wanted barn doors on the back of the home—couldn’t be happier with the way the main-level interiors blend seamlessly with the outdoor environs, courtesy of floor-to-ceiling folding doors that lead to an extended outdoor lounge area.

The pièce de résistance, however, is the stunning kitchen, which in keeping with the rest of the home, features natural materials and a minimal modern style. The heart of the home includes walnut cabinetry; an oversize white marble subway tile backsplash; a rollup appliance garage; a warming drawer; a walk-in pantry; a Thermador range; a Miele espresso machine; white quartz countertops; and a large island, ideal for socializing and dining. For a clean, seamless look, Watts chose edge pulls that route into the top of the door fronts.

Standing out is the kitchen’s massive island, which is topped by Virginia black satin granite (referred to by Watts as “the negative to Carrara marble slab—basically reverse tones, but similar movement”) and adorned with a linear Be Squared chandelier and Felix bar stools from Crate & Barrel.

Watts’ favorite part of the kitchen has to be the metro subway marble. “I think it was the perfect selection to bring some interest and contrast to the simple slab-door style,” she says. “It also runs with the grain of the walnut and picks up the gray tones from the island counter­—it made the kitchen.”

When all was said and done, the end result was not exactly what Joy first envisioned. “It’s even better!” she says. “I originally thought I wanted all monochromatic, but now that I have a vibrant blue backsplash and crazy ceramic tile in my bathroom; I love it. Kristi accomplished a modern feel that was consistent in color, and it turned out even better than I had hoped. It just feels good to be at home.”



Solana Beach

Interior Design
Kristianne Watts, KW Design

Kerry Rutherford, KR Building

Landscape Design
Richard Risner, Grounded Modern Landscape Architecture

Adelsman Custom Cabinetry
Cabinets in kitchen and dining room buffet

Ann Sacks
Etched glass metro feld tile backsplash in African Lily in master bath

Crossville Inc.
Shower wall in master bath

Emser Tile
Metro, white backsplash in kitchen

Island Stone
Temple lava tile over master bathtub

LaCantina Doors
Folding doors in main living area

Quartz White Storm countertops in master bath and kitchen

Tutto Marmo Inc.
Granite Virginia black satin, honed island countertop in kitchen

Zen Paradise
Sliced mini-pebble wave tile mosaic in Timor tan on shower floor in master bath