Sisters-in-law Katie Labourdette-Martinez and Olivia Wahler of Hearth Homes Interiors entered the design industry as home stagers before officially launching their full-service firm in August 2022. This past July, the duo completed a full renovation project in their hometown of Santa Barbara, CA, turning a quintessential California ranch home into a cozy, welcoming space full of organic texture.
Keep reading for a glimpse inside this stunning 3,500-square-foot home.
When Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler first laid their eyes on the house, it was apparent right away that extensive work would need to be done.
"Before the renovation, the property felt like it wasn’t living up to its potential," Wahler reflects. "Inside, it felt very dark, dated, and tired, and the floor plan wasn’t conducive to our client’s lifestyle. Our mission was to exchange the dark, cold feelings for ones of lightness and warmth, really giving the home a fresh start for our clients to make new memories."
Our mission was to exchange the dark, cold feelings for ones of lightness and warmth, really giving the home a fresh start for our clients to make new memories.
One of Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler's client's priorities was to have a home that "wasn’t just their sanctuary, but one for the whole family to gather at and enjoy together," Wahler explains. "They wanted an approachable, inviting, design-forward home with a California casual feel, and also wanted to stay true to the architectural integrity of the home."
Establishing an Aesthetic
Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler's client has a style that Wahler describes as "relaxed, warm, organic, and inviting." She adds, "It’s California-casual at the core, with a modern and elevated twist. They are drawn to rustic and natural materials, but also like to pull in more modern accents and fixtures."
The designers were able to draw on previous knowledge of the client to make their home feel especially custom. "We pulled inspiration from how and where they’ve lived their lives, from the places they’ve traveled, the stories they’ve told, and the books and magazines they had lying around their space," Wahler shares. "Of course, we can always look at Pinterest to find inspiration, but we really wanted to tell our client’s story through the design, and that’s just not something you can pull off the internet."
Because the space is actually a second home, Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler sourced furniture from scratch, but were still able to include a few of the client's special pieces in the design.
"To name a few, there was a beautiful piece of art by America Martin that we hung as a focal point in the dining room that had all the organic tones and hues that we incorporated into the space," Wahler says. "They also had textiles from their travels around the world that we hung up on the wall, and there were photos and accessories from Cuba that we placed thoughtfully around the house to help tell the story of the family’s Cuban heritage."
A special credenza that the owners had held onto for over 30 years was also integrated into the design. "We found a perfect spot for it in the primary bedroom to house all of the books and family photo albums, and it looks simply beautiful," Wahler notes.
Reworking the Layout
One of the major changes Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler made was reworking the entire bedroom wing of the home. This meant cutting into the guest bedroom and bath in order to allocate more square footage to the primary suite. But that wasn't all. The duo also built an addition onto the opposite side of the home, which allowed for an expanded pantry, laundry room, hall bathroom, and third bedroom.
Downstairs, the designers incorporated a custom bar to reflect the family's love of entertaining.
The residents are now easily able to accommodate visitors thanks to their new and improved guest house, which had a previous life as a detached garage. "We transformed the space into a studio with all the comforts of home, and all the luxuries of a five-star retreat by adding a bathroom, kitchenette, dining banquette, and exercise space," Wahler elaborates.
Prioritizing Family First
While Labourdette-Martinez and Wahler were working with clients who are empty nesters, family remained a priority during the project.
"All of their children (and grandchildren) live in the same city that they do, which is so rare—and totally idyllic for many parents out there," Wahler shares. "Their family is at the core of everything they do, so we needed to create a space where they could entertain the whole group, with a comfortable and engaging environment for the grandkids to remember growing up in as well."
The home even features a nursery for little ones to stay in when they visit. The homeowners will continue to be pampered throughout their retirement years, too: The aforementioned expanded primary suite includes a walk-in closet and spa-inspired bathroom.
A Place for Gathering
Wahler says that the her clients appreciate their new space because "it just fits with their lifestyle, and it is a perfect depiction of their taste." She and Labourdette-Martinez are confident that the home will stand the test of time.
"It has classic, timeless appeal, and it is very functional as well as aesthetically pleasing," Wahler says. "Since we completed the project, they have hosted numerous gatherings for friends and family, and they simply love being at home."