When the founders of the design firm Hearth Homes showed us the beautiful Craft House Inn they created in Santa Barbara, we immediately started planning our stay. Designers Katie and Olivia are sisters-in-law who are known for creating spaces that are refined and timeless, yet eminently functional and livable. Their latest project is no exception. The inn is a 100-year-old craftsman that has been converted into a idyllic, design-haven with five bedrooms—perfect for a weekend getaway. We sat down with Katie and Olivia to learn more about their process, hospitality tips, and what’s next for Hearth Homes.
You are sisters-in-law who now run an interior design firm in Santa Barbara together. Tell us how you both got your start and your firm came to be.
Interior design has been a passion from the beginning for each of us, but never something we thought to pursue professionally until we felt like we had hit a brick wall in our previous careers and needed a change! We are so glad that we did and allowed those stars to align—Katie meeting Lucas, Olivia’s older brother, definitely helped!
Congratulations on your latest project, The Craft House Inn! What design aesthetic and overall vibe are you hoping to capture in this new project?
Thank you so much, this one has been a lot of fun for us! Like all of our projects, the drive behind the design is focused on the home’s architecture and enhancing functionality for families. We always want to highlight what the home was intended to be and in this case, it was a beautiful, 100-year-old Craftsman. So we kept, repaired and re-introduced molding where it was stripped away over the past century, brought in a lot of elements inspired by the Arts & Crafts Movement, and used materials that are intended to age and patina—like unlacquered brass and marble. In the end, our design goal was to create spaces that give homage to the history of the home with today’s modern conveniences and amenities for our guests.
Tell us a bit about your creative process. Where do you find your inspiration?
This might be annoying to read but, everywhere! For example, because the home is right in the heart of downtown Santa Barbara, we named the bedrooms after some of our favorite local spots; the Lotus Suite for Montecito’s Lotusland, the Granada Room for the Granada Theater, the Harbor Room for the Santa Barbara Harbor, the Rose Room for the famous Santa Barbara Mission Rose Gardens, and the Butterfly Room for the Ellwood Monarch Butterfly Grove. Naming the rooms helped drive a “theme” without being kitschy. We used this to help guide our furniture and art sourcing as well as our material selections. We also found some beautiful original wallpaper hidden behind layers and years of neglect that was the inspiration for our Rose Room. We actually framed a scrap of it and have it hanging in the bathroom. And to keep everything cohesive and on brand, we create a color palette for the project—this helps us stay focused, so in this instance, our rooms all have a different vibe, but the colors and particular elements are carried throughout the home. It all feels connected.
You have now bought and redecorated three inns, what qualities do you always want to be present in the spaces you design?
Family and functionality are always at the forefront of our mind when designing spaces. The spaces need to be comfortable and functional enough to house different groups of people—all while being beautiful to hang in. The surrounding area is a huge drive for design as well—not only the home’s architecture, but the neighborhood, the proximity to the beach, etc. Those are all elements we discuss when going through the design.
People often say that they want their homes to feel like a boutique hotel. What tips would you give people to help achieve that?
Designed vignettes in your home, like a chair that might be a little funky for your living room, but can live comfortably in the corner as a decoration piece can be a way to achieve that boutique feel without creating a space that you’ll tire of. Also, luxury linens, candles and scents are huge elements—your olfactory system is directly linked to your emotions and memory, so burn candles that bring you back to fun vacations or core memories. And don’t be afraid of a little color. Not everything has to be white, gray and black!
Are there any rooms or spaces in the inn that stand out for you? A favorite?
We love the Butterfly Room—we went a little crazy and wallpapered everything—including the ceiling—so it feels a little like a tree house! And both kitchens are so unique and beautiful. We have one in the main house, and one in the one bedroom suite attached to the home. Each kitchen has its own personality, but they work well together with so many charming, natural elements.
What interior trends are you currently crushing on? Any you’ll use in upcoming projects?
I think a big one for us is the use of earth tones in our designs. We have been gravitating toward that a lot more recently when we source new materials. We definitely added a good amount of earth tone elements into the Craft House as well. We are also starting to incorporate a lot more silver and iron into our designs, while also creating a balance with the brass and gold tones we love to use. We have a few projects in the works that will highlight our new-found love of muddy blues and finding ways to pair that with silver without feeling too cold.
What’s next for you and Hearth Homes Interiors?
We just finalized the design for one of our upcoming stays, just closed escrow on another as well and can’t wait to get started on that (eek!), and we are working with some truly wonderful clients. Of course, we have a few other elements we are holding close to the vest and focusing on manifesting them into reality. Stay tuned!Photography by Public 311 Design