With Solana Beach as their home base, the team at Intimate Living Interiors is largely inspired by the relaxed California lifestyle and all that it invokes—well-being, organic living, and comfortable, yet elevated design. Led by Kari Arendsen, ILI creates one-of-a-kind spaces that don’t follow suit of today’s popular trends, but instead, prides themselves on their resourcefulness and ability to design homes that showcase very unique design elements, furniture, and décor that you can’t find just anywhere.
Case in point? This old-world Spanish-style abode that’s woven with modern touches yet feels incredibly timeless. Kari says of her team’s design direction, “We distill individual preferences, translate personal styles, and incorporate worldly fascinations to help each client realize their dream of living in a home that brings them deep joy and an inspired quality of life.” This home does just that. Read on for our interview with Kari and captures from Ryan Garvin.
Tell us a bit about your journey to becoming a designer. How and when did Intimate Living Interiors come to life?
I started out interning for Courtney-Ford Design, a model home firm specializing in high-end spec homes. I quickly earned myself a fulltime position where I absorbed vast knowledge around how to design in quantity, quickly – and appeal to a broad demographic. However, it was years prior to joining Courtney-Ford Design that I realized my inherent love for interior design, particularly during my travels to Paris. The beauty of old-world architecture, the cozy outdoor cafes, and ivy-covered buildings combined to fill me with a deep sense of love and happiness. After gaining years of hands-on experience in the industry, I made the leap to start Intimate Living Interiors in 2005.
What did you do before becoming an interior designer? How did your previous career path help shape what you do now?
My passion for architecture and design runs deep and stems from my family history of minds that are both logical and creative. My father is a builder, my mother an exceptional artist, and my paternal Grandmother—a draftsman in the US Navy in WWII and also my personal hero—so design has always been in my DNA. I’ve always worked as a designer and after a few international trips abroad that spoke deeply to me, I knew in my heart I would one day own my own interior design business.
If you had to describe your design style like a cocktail or drink, what would it be?
An exotic cup of masala chai tea.
Can you tell us a bit about the home we’re featuring today?
This 3,744 square foot Spanish-style home is located in The Covenant of Rancho Santa Fe, CA. We designed this home for a retired couple who still lived a very active lifestyle. The property had experienced a flood when they approached us, so it was in pretty bad shape. We worked to restore the property to its original state, which included a complete kitchen remodel and interior architectural and furniture update. The owners wanted to stay true to the original architecture and construction of their home, which was built by Holcombe Homes. Holcombe Homes are known for their early California style homes that also blend styles from Mexico, North Africa, and the American Southwest. We maintained the integrity of this original style while also incorporating a modern refresh to it.
What does your morning ritual look like? What are a few things you do to set the tone before you begin a busy day at ILI?
I try my best to keep my mornings sacred. After I rise, I enjoy a warm cup of masala chai tea, complete my 20-minute meditation practice, and then go for a brisk 40-minute walk with my pups.
I love your words, “Your home should reflect the past, embrace the present, and nurture the future.” Can you expand on what a well-lived home means to you?
Our interiors are sure to evoke a feeling of clarity and calm – aspirational. In any home, there should be a comfortable balance of feeling that the design conveys: elevated yet grounded, sophisticated yet casual, and organic yet refined, and soulful. Your home can be as upscale and beautiful as you want it to be, but if it doesn’t reflect your current lifestyle and/or the lifestyle you want to live for years to come, it will always feel as though something is missing.
What sets us apart is our innate ability to capture all of your senses leaving an unforgettable impression of home to anyone that walks in the door.
What’s one piece of advice you’d go back and tell yourself in your first few months of business?
You can’t please everybody. Who you are, is perfect.
We’re not a big fan of the term ‘trends’, but we can get behind an appreciation for beautifully enduring design moments. Are there any timeless design elements you’re looking forward to using in your upcoming projects?
We are excited to use natural wood tones in the architectural details of our projects.
Do you have any favorite podcasts/books/resources that you’ve discovered during these past few months of change in our world that you recommend?
I try to absorb positive and forward-thinking media, and for me, that means cleaning up your social media channels and flushing out what no longer serves you. Some of the podcasts that have kept me going are “The Rich Roll Podcast” and anything by Zach Bush MD.
What changes have you experienced with running a business during this pandemic and how have you shifted your process to adapt to this new norm?
We realized very quickly that moments such as this are meant to be a creative challenge. We’ve seen so many people cripple under the fear, which is heartbreaking. We took the time to shift our process and focus on big internal projects, have cleaned up our systems and organization, and have been fortunate enough to have remained very busy during this time! Something that has helped me throughout this time has been having a positive mindset and trust in myself and my team.
Can you share a few Instagram accounts right now that are fueling your creativity?
I have been loving Zach Bush, Eye Swoon, and Muskoka Living.