At first glance, this Santa Barbara home appears to emulate a classic whitewashed, breezy California look.
However, a closer inspection reveals globally-inspired accent pieces that lend an old school charm to the otherwise fresh and modern space. It’s a signature design aesthetic that interior designer Lauren Christine Henno has become known for; influenced by her travels and studies abroad, she seeks to incorporate those worldly pieces into her projects while keeping the overall decor rooted in a clean, coastal look.
When designing this one bedroom, two bath home for a client (there’s also a guest house-turned-art studio hidden in the back of the house), Henno sought to update the previously uninspiring home with some newer, brighter pieces. Built in 1900, the house had lots of older, darker features—such as dark hardwood floors and a red brick fireplace—not quite compatible with a breezy California vibe. With the help of an architect, she transformed the space into a calming oasis.
We spoke to the designer to learn more about how she blended two different design aesthetics.
What did home look like before?
The difference is drastic. The floors were really dark with a wax finish, and there was a red brick fireplace that I painted white. Because it was such a small space we really wanted to open it up and keep it white and bright—but at the same time, we wanted it to feel homey and kind of eclectic.
In this image: Artwork above the fireplace by Cassandria Blackmore
Were there any challenges associated with renovating an older home?
Since the house was built in such an early age, it definitely has its quirks! I try to think of challenges as opportunities. We renovated the entire master bathroom—knocked down walls, changed the tiling, and took out the floors—which was an ordeal to say the least. It was probably the most challenging part of the home.
In this image: Artwork by Taylor K Williams
What topped the client’s wishlist?
Furniture. My client moved from Miami without any furniture at all, so we rented the furniture for a little bit while I established the floor plan, did the bathroom remodel, and refinished the floors. I did everything from ordering the mattresses to picking out the colors!
What was your inspiration behind the decor?
My clients tend to be my source of inspiration behind each project, but I know how to tailor it so it all comes together and looks cohesive. Here, my client has more of a quirky style so my goal was to make it eclectic yet clean and comfortable and create a home that felt like her little haven.
Is there a phrase you’d use to describe the look of the finished home?
“Eclectic Maison”: I love the eclecticness of European style, which is why I threw in the French word “maison” there to represent that.
The finished space is very “California”; it’s light-filled, there are lots of natural textures, and it adheres to a light colour palette. But also has some more antique-looking pieces mixed in; how did you navigate that balance?
I like keeping things simple to give that fresh, clean California, so we kept the base palette neutral to preserve that feel. Then, it’s all about adding in textures and colors to bring in that warmth. So we’ll have wooden furniture mixed with a crushed velvet ottoman; basically, just not repeating the same thing over and over again.
How did you bring in a global sensibility to the home?
By sourcing unique pieces from all over! So for example, bringing in Moroccan lanterns and adding a big blanket at the end of the bed that is woven in Mexico. I just incorporate more globally-inspired pieces.
Can you talk a little about your use of textures?
Well, I used natural linens for the sofas, and the [dining] bench is just wood… I tend to keep the larger pieces somewhat basic so that the accessories can kind of be the jewelry and add a finishing touch. If the essential pieces are more simple, then I can incorporate the fun layering pieces.
In this image: Wisteria Rattan Magazine Holder, $59.97
Favorite part of the home?
Definitely the daybed—it was so fun to design! I love how it just fits into that little nook, and you can really just curl up there.
Photography by Arna Bajraktarevic.