Spain, Morocco and Mexico unite in a home brimming with artisan touches
The horses in the paddock at the bottom of the hill on a sprawling Rancho Santa Fe property are within snorting distance of the tiered pool’s beach. But because they are horses, they have no desire to bask there in the sun, even though the silky white sand was flown in from the Bahamas. The soft sand illustrates the type of distinct detailing and grandeur that went into the more-than-two-year transformation that took a quaint, Carmel-style cottage down to the studs and turned it into a lavish, Spanish Revival estate. “Artisans were employed to ensure that traditional, time-honored methods were used on this masterpiece of a home,” designer Jessica Tompane of J Hill Interiors says. “Coppersmith Hans Liebscher hand-forged many of the copperwork details. Muralist Edita Semiginovska painstakingly faux-painted walls and interior and exterior doors to give them Old World style. And woodcarver Francisco Arceo was on-site every day for eight months carving each detail in framing, lintels, beams cabinets, doors and gates.”
The first such gate — a hefty, double, wooden one with ornamental iron hinges and a carved, painted-floral motif — brings to mind a medieval castle entrance sans the moat. Thick, plaster columns — topped by arched openings that imitate Spanish miradors — flank the gate. The columns hint at the home’s architecture behind the gate where rustic red clay tiles grace multilevel roofs that boast a variety of turrets, chimneys and domes. In combination with the cream-colored finish of the home’s cladding, they createan almost Mission-style façade.Rows of cacti along the walls add a Mexican hacienda element to the residence’s charm. The hardscape switches from California Gold gravel to terra cotta tile, signifying the arrival into a cozy courtyard that leads to the front door. Iron sconces on either side of the glass-and-iron entry add more castle-like ambiance. Providing continuity between indoors and out, the tile flooring makes its way into the foyer. Designs of Islamic historic buildings inspired its Marrakesh pattern. Throughout the house, Moroccan, Spanish and Mexican influences abound, especially in intricate geometric combinations found in tiles on the ceiling, walls, baseboards and flooring.
“The thick clay tiles have an Old World look,” Jessica says. “The unique thing about the home is that it carries authentic, traditional elements that we were able to give a transitional, updated look to through furnishings. Using a muted palette in the architecture and tiles makes the furnishings really pop.” A small study and a library flank the foyer. The agenda for the living space, directly ahead, was to create a formal, high-end presence. A massive dining table with high-backed, winged, fit-for-royalty chairs seats a crowd. Deep, custom sofas face each other across a handcrafted, solid-wood coffee table. Facing away from the living room, two lounging chairs occupy a choice spot in front of the fireplace.
“A lot of the furnishings were hand-designed by us,” Jessica says. “We hand-sketched the carved wood for the dining chairs and sofas and specified all the fabrics.” As posh as these living spaces are, Jessica kept the homeowners’ lifestyle in mind. For a family of seven (four young girls, a baby daughter, and a father and mother who love to entertain), the classic designs embrace comfort and ease of living.
The two bedroom suites for four girls lie across from each other. Though they are not exact replicas, they contain similar princess qualities, like solid-iron beds with canopies of wispy fabric reminiscent of fairy wings. The girls’ rooms are a hop, skip and jump away from the family room, informal dining space and kitchen — given a welcoming atmosphere by a massive, thick-walled fireplace. A custom range in blue governs the kitchen and contains a trio of sections: a 36-inch range with six burners and a cheese melter; a 36-inch, thermostatically controlled griddle with two shelves for warming plates; and a 36-inch, cast-iron charbroiler with a convection-oven base. Just beyond the kitchen, past the laundry space and pantry, through the little sun-room and piano room, lies a home theater.
“The homeowners wanted it to have stadium seating, so we built a base,” Jessica says. “I wanted it to be like a bed; so the back sofa is at least 40 inches deep, with a massive headboard shaped in an arc design inspired by The Alamo [in San Antonio, Texas], but cut down because of ceiling height.”
The east wing encompasses the nursery and master suite, the latter comprising a third of the home’s square footage. “It has dynamic angles that go off into an octagonal sitting room, his-and-her closets, vanity areas, and the master bath with shower,” Jessica says. “When you are walking through, it seems like it never ends. “The homeowners wanted a magnificent bed,” she continues. “They sent me a film clip of an old Hollywood movie that showed the kind of flair they desired. I hand-designed their canopy bed so that the drapes would pool just right and the valances would have soft curves with tassels on the bottom for a dramatic, old Hollywood look.”
Magnificence rolls on through a trio of glass doors by the living/dining area to an outdoor living room. Two sectionals, ottomans and lounge chairs provide plenty of seating for a party. They huddle around an enormous, tile-topped and hand-carved coffee table — designed by Jessica and made in Mexico — and a tile-fronted fireplace. To the west lie the outdoor kitchen and dining space with a rectangular, Spanish-style, carved-wood table that accommodates 12. The children’s playhouse and a basket-ball court are situated to the east. Straight out into the distance, beyond the pool, you may see a horse or two, waiting to be taken out for a jaunt. Just don’t bother taking them to the property’s beach.