Maybe you adore the detailed trim and wood siding of your Craftsman-era home. Or perhaps you’re drawn to the archways and rustic wood of your Spanish-style space. But lifestyles have changed over the past hundred years, and you might be ready for a home that better suits the way you actually live. “You can keep the basic integrity of the style intact, then update it for today,” says Chris Hallisey of Balboa Design Group in San Diego. “Integrating classic styles with modern amenities is really ideal.”
Hallisey draws from the environment when coming up with his ideas for interiors. “I’m a firm believer that nature is the best designer,” he says. “I love to be outside, at the beach or hiking or on walks with my dogs, and I try to pull that into my work with color, texture and organic elements.”
Before going to school for interior architecture, Hallisey worked with a general contracting firm, installing windows and tile and getting his hands dirty. As a designer, he brings that added expertise to his projects. “I love figuring out how things work and how to rebuild spaces to make them more functional and aesthetically pleasing,” he says. “I really enjoy re-creating spaces.”
Hallisey shares his tips below:
1. Open Up Spaces
Homes used to have lots of little, closed-in spaces, but most people now prefer a more open feel. “Taking out walls and improving flow lends itself to modern living,” Hallisey says.
In this Craftsman in Normal Heights, the original dining room’s built-in buffet wasn’t functional anymore, and it blocked off the entire space. Hallisey redrew the room to flow from the front door through the living, dining and kitchen areas, starting with removing the big dining room wall to open everything up. A chair rail and rail-to-floor wainscoting maintain the historic appeal; painting everything white and changing all the flooring to a serene white oak lends an airy appeal.
2. Update Your Color
There’s nothing that dates a space faster than tired hues, Hallisey says. Instead, he recommends starting with a neutral palette of soft whites, light grays or taupes, then “adding color with accents on cabinetry, or painting one accent wall,” he says. “Art and accessories are another way to bring in vibrant color.”
Hallisey transformed the kitchen of this 1970s home in Cardiff-by-the-Sea from a sad yellow space to a bright one in crisp, clean white. A vivid blue island “really makes the room pop,” he says. “It draws your focus and creates interest.” The same blue is reflected in the custom built-in bookcase in the den to maintain color continuity.
3. Bring In Nature
“Go outside and see what inspires you,” Hallisey says. “Then figure out how to bring what you love inside,” whether it’s the color of a purple Caribbean tree or the shape of seashells.
In a bathroom in the same Cardiff-by-the-Sea home, the team wallpapered the space with a pattern of verdant fern fronds, then added hanging bird sconces to make the room sing. The team also converted a midcentury modern dresser into a vanity in place of old formica countertops. Light pours in through the skylight, bouncing off the mirror and feeding the plant on its pedestal.