When Homepolish designer Rosa Beltran was hired to renovate a home in Altadena, California, there were just a few problems. “The home began as a pretty badly done faux Mediterranean 1990s spec house,” says Beltran. A few of the more egregious design choices included vinyl windows, peach plaster stucco, and a master bathroom decked out with mauve tile, shiny brass, and shag carpet.
“Yes, shag carpet in the bath,” she says. “We knew we had to infuse it with some major classical style to help it fit in [with the neighborhood]. But making a modern home look like a period piece is easier said than done.”
First up? The structural elements. Replacing the vinyl windows was key, as was reshaping the entrance to better fit with the neoclassical architecture found throughout the neighborhood. The original double doors and oversized window have been replaced with a more intimate entry: a single hardwood door set beneath a gently arched ceiling. Geometric tile on the steps sets the tone for the Spanish-inspired aesthetic found inside.
The living room features 30-foot ceilings, and the windows let in a lot of light, so Beltran wanted to take advantage of the dramatic space. The oversized light fixture drops the space and reduces the size visually, and as a result, Beltran decided not to add too many other elements like art or other lighting.
The windows were all also reworked and changed with regard to shape and size, so light drapes were all they needed. “We added very little art or ornamentation to the walls or elsewhere. The space was so light-filled and airy, we really wanted the lines and volume of the space to speak for themselves,” says Beltran.
Dark hardwood floors are used throughout the home, and serve as the perfect background for more neutral, yet sophisticated designs. For Beltran, the real fun came with mixing and matching: “As a designer, I love to juxtapose different styles in a way that is exciting and perhaps unexpected, but that harmonizes well together.”
The dining room is a prime example. “The table is modern farmhouse, the sideboard is made of exquisitely intricate inlaid bone, and the chairs and light fixture are completely mid-century modern. The effect, combined with a stunning large modern abstract painting by painter Bethany Roberts, is eclectic and curated, and anything but boring.”
Beltran also wanted to make sure that the home served its purpose of being a place of rest and relaxation for its owners. “This is a family home, so we needed the furniture to be comfortable and embrace a very livable, casual California aesthetic, while still being exciting and curated for good design,” she says.
The kitchen was retrofitted with clean white cabinetry and stone-like porcelain tile backsplash. A variety of natural textures—woven stools, unfinished wooden shelves, and a kilim rug—add warmth.
While the entryway is more dramatic with a black and white color combo, it’s the balancing of those contrasts that really played a huge role in the design, as the look was softened with layered jute and wool rugs. The combination of world-inspired prints serve to balance out the more traditional architecture.
The home is blessed with square footage, thus allowing for three different living areas. The den is a combination of shades of blue, mainly done to utilize the family’s favorite color without being too “matchy-matchy.” The whites and woods play off these shades, with the crisp white built-in shelving offering a stylish storage solution.
“While the color palette in this house is mostly neutrals and colors found in nature, we didn’t shy away from adding graphic patterns that worked with our subtle color story, too,” says Beltran. “The cement tile used on floors and walls throughout, and the many fabrics on all our custom furniture and pillows gave us lots of opportunity for interesting pattern.” Not to mention the fireplaces, which were outfitted with muted geometric tiles—these interesting patterns are so striking, the fireplaces don’t even need mantles.
A prime example of the family-friendly feel is the cozy nooks Beltran has added below the windows, ideal for reading or relaxing under the bright sunshine. “What designer doesn’t love a chance to combine a bunch of favorite pillows?” says Beltran. Placed strategically throughout the home in various rooms and near the staircase landing, the nooks serve as sleek spaces of respite.
The master bedroom fits with the theme of the rest of the living space, and what it lacks in color, it makes up for with texture. “I knew as soon as we’d settled on a modern Spanish architectural style that I wanted to use a wrought iron four-poster bed in the master—not a lot of bedrooms can handle it,” says Beltran. “The ceiling height and huge volume of the room just begged for it—the arch and wrought iron both reference traditional Spanish architecture and materials.”
But while the main living area in the home is more rustic, the bathrooms are an entirely different story. On-trend marble floors and the sink lend a more modern feel in the guest bathroom, while geometric tiles in varying shades of grey add interest. The master relies on more Spanish and Moroccan detailing, with a freestanding soaking tub taking center stage. She used cement Moroccan floor tile and lighting, as well as a custom-made bone inlay mirror.
“There is so much Moroccan influence in Spanish architecture, and we wanted that reflected in the master bath for it to feel like a luxurious and spa-like hammam (bath house) experience,” says Beltran.
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