Brushed with BoldnessAuthor:Anh-Minh Le
For a repeat client, Caitlin Jones Ghajar conceived a fab fourth home
Familiarity breeds comfort, indeed, for interior designer Caitlin Jones Ghajar’s client in Marin County. The Oakland native was a 15-year-old intern when she was part of a team working on the client’s then-pool house, also in Marin. Over the next 27 years, Jones Ghajar—who now splits her time between Seattle and the Bay Area, with the majority of her projects in the latter—worked with the homeowner on three subsequent residences.
The most recent, a mid-century abode, is a departure from the previous Craftsman-style places where the client hung her hat. Think: less heavy millwork, more light-filled rooms. With the latest project, “the home itself had tremendous bones but had fallen victim to some sad and unsympathetic remodels in the past that chopped up the space,” recalls Jones Ghajar, who adds that its single story and perch atop a hill were among the home’s inherent virtues. “While we certainly wanted a nod to the mid-century aesthetic,” she continues, “we focused more on texture, comfort and scale for the furnishings.”
The client’s penchant for color carried over into her new pad, which was basically white and beige when she purchased it. “She wanted the home to have a vibrant palette that felt warm, easeful and unique,” says the founder of Caitlin Jones Design. Functionally, she notes, the client—an artist who is “a spiritual person”—desired spaces in which to host group events, including meditation circles, as well as to engage in her artistic pursuits.
Walls that previously separated the kitchen from the living and dining rooms were removed, yielding a venue that not only accommodates gatherings but also bursts with bold yet complementary hues. The kitchen island—all 14 feet of it, including a cooktop and a prep sink—is painted what the designer describes as “between a cobalt and a navy” (Pratt & Lambert’s Postal Blue), as are the cabinets along a wall lined with windows. The two skylights, situated between ceiling beams, were added by Jones Ghajar. “The client is not a formal person and wanted everyone to feel welcome to pull up a stool and chat,” she says. “I particularly love the two-level island, which hides the mess of the kitchen but still maintains the openness.”
The dining room’s lilac accent wall (Dunn-Edwards’ Monsoon) serves as a backdrop for a settee upholstered in Osborne & Little’s Iolanthe pattern and a Peter Dimick painting. Meanwhile, in the living room, a prismatic painting by Andrew Mills presides. Jones Ghajar kept the furniture minimal, with a custom teal sectional and round cocktail table atop a vintage Beni Ourain rug. “We really wanted to create one big color element,” she says of the seating, positioned to take advantage of the view of Mount Tamalpais—past the expansive windows and pool in the backyard. Just outside, a 15-and-a-half-foot bench with a striped cushion—roughly the width of the pool—provides an additional spot from which to marvel at the environs (or take an afternoon nap).
In the client’s bedroom, a painting by Karen Schmidt drove the palette—shades of purple and teal. Jones Ghajar contended with the existing windows behind the custom channel-tufted headboard: one that is off-center on the wall and another in the corner. She handled the challenge with aplomb, unifying the window shades to the wall color (Benjamin Moore’s Seashell) and placing a small artwork asymmetrically above the headboard—a practice she favors. “When you have matching nightstands and lamps,” she elaborates, “it adds a surprise that makes the room more dynamic.”
In addition to the deft use of color in the home, the lighting choices stand out. With interiors that feature ceiling beams, “you often get pinned into some type of track lighting,” says Jones Ghajar. “We knew that the client needed significantly more light but wanted to do it in a way that added more drama and vibrance.” A spherical Arteriors Home chandelier composed of etched glass illuminates the dining room. In a guest bathroom, whose walls are painted in C2 Paint’s Cayenne, a pair of Moroccan pendants flank the Venetian-inspired mirror, which “creates a really nice layering that isn’t too iterative of one particular style,” she observes.
For the kitchen, she proposed a trio of oversize Urban Electric Co. lights, also with Moroccan flair, above the island. While the client was unsure at first, she trusted Jones Ghajar and now, says the designer, “We all agree—it was a success!” The fixtures’ glass panels help ensure that the views can still be enjoyed. To that end, a custom walnut and brass open shelving unit is suspended from the ceiling.
Reflecting on the most rewarding aspects of this project, Jones Ghajar points to the ability to “use incredibly saturated, deep and vibrant colors while still maintaining a sane and restrained hand throughout the home. I love that each room is different, but they feel connected and contained within a whole.” And, of course, there is the homeowner herself. “I deeply cherish the relationship I have with repeat clients,” says Jones Ghajar. Apparently, the feeling is mutual.