• Jul 06, 2018
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Behind The Design: Ocean-Inspired Oasis

Designer Q&A Articles

In this special edition of Behind the Design, we’re exploring a Carpet One Floor & Home store owner’s personal design project. Julie Kerkochian of United Carpet One enlisted the expertise of interior designer Jill Tilton to renovate her central California home. We chatted with Jill to get all the must-have details on how this stunning, one-of-a-kind home came together.

Home Renovation

To begin, can you tell us a little about this home and what your client’s goals were for the renovation?

The client’s initial attraction to the home was simple. It's a one story, 3 bedroom home, in a good neighborhood, and it had a nice sized lot with large back yard. Goals for the renovation were to update the interior, making it lighter and brighter, and welcoming for entertaining. She also wanted an opportunity to display her incredible sports memorabilia and to bring some of her favorite beach elements into the design. As we worked together discussing room usage and space planning, it started to come to life. She got excited about some of the ideas we showed her and she brought forward some of hers. Slowly it evolved into her dream home, not just a nice home in a good location.

There's an obvious nod to the sea throughout this home. In what ways did this aspect inspire the overall look and feel of this home’s design?

The coast is a favorite getaway for my client on weekends and holidays, as she leads a busy work week with her business, as well as social and philanthropic commitments. She wanted to bring colors, textures and motifs to her Central California home to feel that sense of escape she gets from her time at the beach at the beginning and end of each day.

Alongside Jill, Santa Cruz, California-based artist Maia Negre can be credited for successfully creating the sense of escape Julie desired. Renowned for her dreamy surfscapes, abstract florals and coastal landscapes, Negre's artwork helped transform the Central-California home into a coastal-inspired oasis. Featured works include the ocean landscape on cedar displayed in the dining room, mermaid painting in the entryway, and surfboard art in the master bedroom. Negre also helped to design the statement wave mosaic in the master bath.

Coastal Home Decor, Herringbone Dining TableAn antique herringbone table from Julie's family home was paired with plush, upholstered chairs for ultimate comfort.

As an avid surfer, there was no better piece of art to adorn Julie's master bed than a Bethany Hamilton-signed surf board.

The wave mosaic was constructed from hundreds of pieces of sea glass and touches of treasured abalone shell for extra sparkle.

Like many of the items throughout Julie's home, the mermaid artwork in the entryway tells a story. Julie purchased the board, originally owned by pro-surfer Bianca Buitendag, at charity auction benefiting Aleph Surf International. The non-profit organization - one of several Bianca supports - gives disadvantaged youth and their families the opportunity to experience the impossible through the recreational sport of surfing, the arts, education, and empowerment through employment. Once home, Julie enlisted talented painter Maia Negre to transform the surfboard into a one-of-a-kind work of art.

The floors are simply stunning. Tell us about your selection.

With the coolness of the blue and white paint and textiles, it was important to bring some warmth into the flooring with a golden colored wood plank. After looking at many different options, we chose a hickory wood called Clear Ridge, in color Macadamia through Carpet One. It is part of the Invincible™ Hardwood Collection and is a wonderful 7” wide plank in random lengths to compliment the “farmhouse meets beach style” that we have going with the materials throughout.

Let’s talk lighting. We can’t get enough of the gorgeous display of fixtures throughout this home. Such variety! How did this exceptional assembly come together?

I am a fanatic about layered lighting. My designs typically include as much indirect lighting as possible under and above cabinets to create ambiance and to function as task lighting. We added quite a few can lights throughout the home, all adjustable, to give good general lighting, especially during the day as one story homes can be a bit dark when the sun is overhead. Finally, decorative fixtures like chandeliers, hanging pendants, and table lamps are added mainly for style and sparkle, like jewelry, while the dominate amount of lighting is coming from other less obvious sources. Many of the antique brass fixtures are vintage, and the glass lamps are crystal collectibles from the client’s mother. The wood and glass fixture over the dining table was custom designed, inspired by an idea my client found online. It was a fun mixture and these vintage pieces add some soul and a touch of whimsy to the spaces they grace.

Vintage ChandelierLike many other pieces throughout the home, the vintage chandelier in the office space was from Julie's family home.


Warm, wide-plank hardwood in random lengths created the foundation for the home's "farmhouse meets beach" feel.

Antique Dining Table, Herringbone Dining Table

From the stain glass in the hallway to herringbone detailing in the dining room table, there are so many unique and unexpected statement pieces within this home. Can you speak to such elements?

Many of these statement pieces were brought over from the client’s family home. Her mother had collected some wonderful mid-century furniture pieces, like the brass cabinets in The Clubhouse sports bar, and the buffet that was moved from the family dining room to function as a media piece in the family room. The herringbone dining table that was previously the family kitchen table, had strong memories attached to it, as all kitchen tables do. The stained glass windows were designed by the client's mother and commissioned from a local artist friend of hers to be the sidelights for the entry in her family home. Carefully removing these windows and re-purposing them as art was one of the many parts of making this new house feel like home for my client.

The stained glass windows, designed by Julie's mother and commissioned from local artist Corky Normart, once adorned the front door of Julie's family home.

The clubhouse is a design all its own! Do you have any go-to rules when it comes to designing a fun, bonus space?

I had some incredible collectibles to display in this space, so it was key to find an organized way to show them off, without becoming overwhelming to the eye. We created shelves and shadow boxes for existing memorabilia and designed them into the vertical space from the very beginning, instead of being an after-thought. It was important to add carpet for better acoustics for the TV-centric bar area, and to give warmth to an otherwise cold space of hard surfaces. The dropped ceiling over the bar area not only gives an opportunity to add more lighting and a display shelf, but also draws guests in with the warmth and texture of that incredible 100 year old barn-wood brought down from the Sierra Mountains.

Home Sports Bar

The custom tiling in the bathroom is head-turning to say the least. What was the inspiration for this space? And what challenges did you face creating such a distinctive design?

The client came to me at our very first meeting with a concept photo she had found online of a tiled bathroom that had a similar wave. You could almost say that the entire home was designed around this single design element. It might have felt very out of place in this central California home if we had not carried the colors, textures, and beach elements throughout, including the painted surfboard in the entry, and the custom painted wood plank in the dining area featuring a beach scene of the client with her dear friend and surfing partner. There were some challenges in creating the wave, but the extra effort paid off. Hundreds of pieces of beach glassware were sorted and cleaned, and small pieces of treasured abalone shell were added in the end to create extra sparkle from the natural light coming through the adjacent window.

From sofas to chairs to counter stools, there’s no shortage of seating in the main living area. How important is this aspect to a home’s design?

Entertaining is very important to my client, as she feels best when her home is filled with close friends and family, enjoying a meal and sharing stories. It was very important to have ample, comfortable seating in various settings, all in the same wide open Great Room, which includes the kitchen, dining, family, and fireside spaces. The dining table seats eight, but the built-in bench allows for casual side conversations. The counter stools allow for the chef of the evening, which could either be the client herself, or one of her many talented friends, to interact with guests. Soft seating by the TV is for enjoying a sporting event or movie, and the leather recliners are set to enjoy the cozy fireplace while wiggling toes in the shag rug!

Living Room SeatingTwo leather recliners and a super soft area rug create a secondary seating area for Julie (and guests) to relax and find comfort. 

California Home Reno

All said and done, what was the most rewarding part of this home renovation?

The most rewarding part was feeling that I had created a uniquely personal home for my client. We worked together to select the key pieces from her family home that would be brought over to this house and purchased or custom designed the additional pieces to create a fully furnished, cozy-coastal look that is current yet timeless.

About The Designer 

Jill Tilton is the owner and lead designer of Jill Tilton Interior Design (JTID). JTID offers design services for residential, model home,and light commercial interiors. Jill has had a varied career, and uses her education, training and past experiences to help fulfill the diverse needs of custom home designs and production home projects. While JTID is based in Southern California, great opportunities have taken Jill all the way to the east coast of the US, the eastern side of China, and many places in between.

About The Artist

Armed with a Bachelor of Fine Arts and a love of the ocean, artist Maia Negre is renowned for her dreamy surfscapes, mermaids, abstract florals, and coastal landscapes. Her work, a captivating expression of reverence to the beauty of life, has made Maia one of Santa Cruz, California's most beloved and popular artists. Maia's paintings can been seen on the walls of many local hotels, established businesses, murals, and clients homes. Top-selling cards, bags and prints displaying Maia's work are also sold in retail shops across California and Hawaii. To view more of Maia's work visit: www.maianegre.com.

Photography by Patrick Rhames.
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