Designer Kristen Peña believes that every home should be a “museum of memories” — an inviting space sprinkled with mementos that hold significance. Whether it’s a hand-carved stool from a trip to Tanzania or a ceramic vase from a local artisan, accessories should be happy reminders of the past. And that’s exactly what she wanted in her own home. In collaboration with CCS Architecture & Interiors and landscape designer Daniel Nolan, Kristen turned a dark, closed-off Victorian into a light-filled sanctuary adorned with treasures from her travels. “I really wanted my house to be a space that was simple in its bones but filled with layers of texture, memory and warmth,” says Kristen, who lives with her husband, Luis, daughters Emmi, 14, and Sadie, 17, and their golden retriever, Willie.
Scroll down to learn more about the impressive two-year renovation!
At the time of the original renovation in 2005, Kristen owned a fashion business and hadn’t launched her interior design firm yet. It’s safe to say this experience was the catalyst to bringing her design dreams to life. “I am a very down-to-earth designer, and I feel like every room has to have purpose and be inviting and comfortable,” she says.
In the living room, the original fireplace mantel and stained glass windows exude character.
“I used to travel a lot [before COVID-19] to gain inspiration — and it’s obviously something we love to do,” says Kristen. “I’m not somebody that goes out and buys accessories domestically.” A hand-carved stool from Tanzania, a vase from local ceramicist Len Carella and an intricate bowl from Morocco add character to the living room.
To inject warmth into the modern interior, Luis — a skilled woodworker — created handsome, custom wooden pieces that Kristen designed herself, like the dining room table and credenza.
It’s no surprise that white and wood is a timeless combination. In the kitchen, natural wood cabinets pop against the crisp walls, dressed in Benjamin Moore’s Simply White. Adding artwork on top of the uppers proves decorative accessories belong in the kitchen, too.
“Light is a huge thing for me,” says Kristen, who converted an old sunroom into their family room, which leads to the lush backyard. Subtle hits of color and pattern (plus, plenty of texture) invite guests to kick back and stay a little longer.
“I don’t think a space needs to be very colorful to be deep, interesting or inviting,” she says. This sentiment rings true everywhere in the home, but especially in the game room, where graphic, monochromatic wallpaper packs a punch.
Kristen’s go-to palette of black, white and green gets its moment in the spotlight in the home office.
A dark floral Ellie Cashman wallpaper and tufted, forest green velvet banquette sets the tone for the office’s meeting area. Wishbone chairs and a mid-toned wood table softens the moody, dramatic look.
In Emmi’s room, soft shades of pink create a sweet sleep sanctuary without coming across as juvenile. An upholstered headboard gives a luxurious, custom look.
Kristen’s love affair with bold pattern continues in the guest bathroom. Throwback florals are a big trend for 2020, so a petite bathroom is the perfect space to experiment with daring design moves.
The principal bedroom pays homage to the West Coast with earth tones and relaxed linens. Hits of black from the sconces, bed frame and curtain rod create visual interest while still encouraging rest and relaxation.