Clients Turned Friends!

Interior design means partnering with homeowners to make their dream spaces a reality. But each home is personal and unique, and so are the clients that come with it. Often times, we find ourselves not only getting to know clients and their vision, but we also become great friends in the process. It’s definitely a perk of the trade! On today’s blog, we wanted to share a few special snippets of our time with clients turned friends. If anything, it’s a way to commemorate one of our favorite parts of being an interior designer. Take a look!

Friends From the Ground Up

Whenever we start with clients and work from the ground up, it means walking them through both the design of their home and also the building process. This home, which we dubbed “Mid-Century Modern With A View,” was a three-and-a-half-year project.  We had our hands on every little detail—from meetings with the architect, designing all of the spaces, and countless job walks with the contractor. Over that period, we became close friends with our clients, Chuck and Gale. Now, with the whole project finished, we were thrilled to attend their house-warming party where great food, great friends, and great design were all a part. It was the final kick-off and, truth be told, a little bittersweet to see such a fun project with amazing friends come to an end. We couldn’t be happier for these two and hope this house truly feels like home for years and years to come. Thanks, Chuck and Gale, for allowing us to be a part!


You can check out the whole “Mid-Century Modern With A View” project Here!

An Encouraging Friend

Over the years, Julie has designed a few different spaces for our client, Sam. Recently, she was invited to a little get together for friends who have encouraged Sam over the years—especially when it came to writing her new book! Julie not only urged her to tell her story, but she also designed the office where it was written. We love that Julie was able to not only give Sam a beautiful place to write, but also supported her dream! We only have a quick iPhone shot of the two, but it’s clear these two are pals!


By sharing these two events, we remember that our work means more than just beautiful design. It entails creating friendships built on trust and support as we make houses into homes for clients who are truly friends. Thanks for reading!


Designer's Pick!

Our team at Kathy Ann Abell Interiors is more like family and that’s just the way we like it. Everyone has years of experience working together and designing for the company, but, of course, we all have our favorite projects…So, today we’re each sharing our favorite designs! Check it out!


Kathy’s Pick

More Than A Pretty Pool House

“It’s so hard to pick a favorite because I truly love all my designs. However, the pool house really connects to my own personal style—I mean, if I had a pool house, this would be it. The stone, the furniture, the details—it’s just an amazingly beautiful project.”



Daniel’s Pick

Eclectic Traveler

“The sky was the limit with this project—we did ultra modern and traditional with a touch of animal print. I mean, when that mix comes together the way it did, it’s just magic. Plus, we had the sweetest client ever which made the process truly enjoyable.”



Julie’s Pick

Indigo Salon

“This design gave us an opportunity to be creative and challenge ourselves. We started with nothing and built a fun and functional workplace! It’s always exciting to do a project that’s a little outside the box.”



Kristi’s Pick

Not Your Mama’s Southwest Style

“To begin with, the original art used in this project really caught my eye. Orange is my happy color, so, of course, I was immediately drawn to this design. Pair my favorite color with a wonderful client and it becomes a clear favorite!”



Barb’s Pick

Farmhouse Charm

“Neutrals, natural texture, and the quaint warmth of this design has always made it a favorite of mine. I love how farmhouse style mixes both the new with the well-loved design items. This project has a charming and enduring style that truly feels like home!


We hope you enjoyed this fun collection of favorites. Thanks for reading!


Vacation Round Up

It’s that time of year where almost everyone is thinkin’ vacation—warm weather is coming and putting your feet up for a week sounds pretty good. So, in the spirit of getting away, we thought we’d share some of the vacation homes we’ve designed over the years!

For those wondering, the design process for a vacation home is often just like that of a full-time residence. Generally, but not always, we take a trip to the home we’re about to design. Measurements are taken and we begin capturing a vision for the aesthetic. Once we’re back in the office, that’s where most of the magic happens. There’s really only two differences when it comes to creating a vacation home—the first being that we have to ship our pieces to the location of the house. And the second is we’re always thinking durability. Many people rent out these homes and we want fabrics to hold up and the layout to be practical, that way it can last for years to come. As you check out the amazing homes below, we hope this serves as a place of inspiration for just how beautiful a second home can be.

Old California Catalina

First up is this charming Catalina condo. As you can see, the views are really the star of the show. However, we wanted the inside to have an old California flair, so we kept it a little rustic and added in rich colors and fabrics.


Kauai Haven

Next is my own Kauai Haven! I wanted this condo to feel airy and coastal, so I played with patterns and tones of blue. Honestly, even though it’s a vacation space, I love how it really feels like a piece of home. You can actually book a stay at either of our Kauai condos HERE.


Cozy Lake House

Taking a step away from the beach, let’s head up to the mountains and take a peek inside this grand house situated on Lake Tahoe. This home already had a lot of natural texture, so we went with a traditional style and added punches of rich color to keep it cozy. It really is the ultimate mountain lodge!


Rustic Beach House

Big windows are a must for the California coast, and this next vacation space doesn’t disappoint! With grand ocean views, this home has the full San Diego package. We used a more traditional style with a touch of coastal to keep the place feeling beachy—which we love. Then, using rustic wood and natural texture, we finished the design with a more homey vibe. The outcome is this lovely rustic beach house!


Grand Hawaiian Getaway

For the finale, we have a beautiful Hawaiian home where we pulled out all the stops. With plenty of outdoor furniture for meals on the patio, it’s truly a place to gather and relax with family and friends. Inside, coral and sea glass blue are the main pops of color throughout the home, while coastal accessories add to the tropical vibe. From views to spa-like bedrooms, this design has it all.


We hope you enjoyed getting a glimpse inside these beautiful vacation spaces! Thanks for reading!


Tropical Transitional

These next clients have been a part of our design family for a while—since we designed their vacation home around 10 years ago! We were thrilled when they asked us to come refresh their full-time residence, requesting that we make it more intentional and functional with a tropical transitional flair.

Because they hold a weekly Bible study at their home, the front living space needed to be an area that was easy to gather and have conversation. With a patterned ottoman as the center piece, we added bright chairs and fresh, nature driven art to create a lush yet relaxing vibe. Warm tones balanced with pops of green make the space colorful without being overwhelming.


Design Challenge:

Because the living room and family room are both so visible from each other, a challenge we ran into was making both rooms feel cohesive. They needed to be separate spaces with different purposes but also compliment each other. To accomplish this, we used patterns that played well together in both rooms and kept the art color within the same tone. Though both rooms have bold chairs, they don’t compete which makes each space feel like it’s own.


Our client wanted to be in her kitchen while also conversing with guests in the living room—so we added these lovely green swivel chairs to make sure people could remain comfortable no matter which way they needed to face. Also, a great little detail is the lazy susan in the middle of the coffee table—perfect for snacks or hors d'oeuvres when entertaining.


It was clear to us from the beginning that our clients are warm, kind people who are generous with both their time and space, and they wanted their house to reflect a welcoming attitude to family and friends. Their home is a great example of how design can truly maximize any space while making it beautiful in the process. The end result is a place where guests can feel at home too! Thanks for reading!


Spring Fever!


Enjoy the Outdoors…

We’ve got spring fever! With the warm weather bringing sunny vibes to our patios, it’s time to get our outdoor spaces ready for bbqs and family fun! Here’s a few tips and some inspiration to getcha thinking spring.

Whether you have a huge yard or a small balcony, making your outdoor space a gathering place is a great way to add square footage for entertaining or enjoy the breeze. Plus, it’s especially useful here in Southern California where the weather is pretty mild all year round! So, if your patio, balcony, or backyard needs some love, and you’re not sure where to start, we always suggest approaching the space just like you would an indoor area. Think comfortable, cozy, and conversational—that means creating a place to gather with furniture that’s inviting while adding in that extra factor of durability. We recommend investing in outdoor furniture that’s going to withstand the elements, so a repurchase isn’t necessary for a long while.


A fun way to get creative with your patio design is to think about the senses. We want to create a space that feels good: Comfortable furniture is a given, but also consider adding in a free-standing fire pit to provide a heat source for evening entertainment.

We want to have an aromatic environment: Fresh flowers, fragrant plants, or trees are a beautiful and natural way to create a relaxing aroma. Plus, they give that real sense of spring!

We also want the area to look good: Lighting that’s warm and adds a cozy feeling is ideal for outside. Market lights, outdoor chandeliers, and lanterns are all excellent options.

Even sound can play a role in making your outdoor space inviting: Installing a sound system or using an outdoor speaker means you can set the mood with your favorite tunes. We also love water features, such as a fountain, to provide a more relaxing and natural sound.

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Just like you would accessorize a room inside your home, you can also add details to the outside! An outdoor rug is an easy way to make a big space feel intentional, and in a small area like a balcony, it can make it feel a part of the flow of your home. Outside accessories also have their perks, for example, fresh flowers not only add color but they’ll thrive in their natural habitat—unlike the inside of your home.

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When you design an outdoor space, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, things melt outside. This may seem obvious, but don’t leave candles in a space that has direct sunlight. It’s also a good idea to consider what accessories will hold up in the rain, for example, ceramic pieces are always a safe choice that can also add a pop of color to your space. Even antlers or precast concrete can add charm while also being durable accessories. The trick is to keep the details low maintenance that way you don’t need to worry rain or shine! Also, steer clear or gnomes and figurines that may “date” your design down the line.


As spring continues to bloom and soon turns into summer, we hope these tips will help you get your outdoor space ready to be enjoyed! Remember to be creative and have fun with it. Thanks for reading!


Classic Coastal Renovation

We always love when clients return and we get to work with them on a new project. This next design was like a little family reunion as one of our longtime clients had us come back to remodel her upstairs. About 6 years ago, we turned her downstairs living area into a classic coastal space, and she wanted to carry that same feel to the rooms above. We were overjoyed to work with her again as well as some amazing contractors to help finish the design. Of course, what’s a remodel without a little before and after? Take a peek at the rooms just as we were starting to demo them and keep scrolling to see them in their final glory!

The Guest Room




We wanted to make the guest room feel inviting while designing it to fit the rest of the house. We gave the room a fresh coat of paint, brought in new furniture and accessories, and created a space that would welcome any guest who comes to stay.

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The Guest Bathroom




While the guest bathroom was certainly functional, it was outdated and had no specific style. We completely demolished the room and then removed the wall separating the shower. With a new vanity and bright fixtures, the guest bathroom feels airy and spacious with a touch of coastal ambiance.

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The Master Bathroom




Who doesn’t dream of a beautiful master bathroom? We were so excited to make that dream a reality for our clients by removing everything and starting fresh. Bringing the wall out into the master bedroom, we were able to create a larger walk in shower and give the bathroom some more space. From the vanity, to the tub, to the finishes, we gave these clients a master bathroom they could truly love.

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The Master Bedroom




The master bedroom definitely had a lot of space and good natural light, but the room still felt dark. To brighten things up, we repainted the space and added white trim work behind the bed. The fireplace also got an update with new tile and trim which gave it classic character. Window treatments and curtains were kept light as well to add onto the airy feel and using blue hues as our pop of color, the room is simple but definitely classic coastal.

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We absolutely loved giving these wonderful clients a home design that carries throughout the entire house. They were a joy to work with and we hope they enjoy their design to the fullest! Thanks for reading!


How to Create A Light and Airy Vibe

A home that creates a light and airy style seems to be at the top of the list when it comes to design right now. If it really is a trend, then we’re on board because it can easily become a classic look that will last for years to come. But, how do you truly create that bright yet soft vibe? Read on!

  1. Bright and airy doesn’t necessarily mean all white, but it definitely utilizes more neutral tones overall. We used the Dunn Edwards paint color Whisper to really “lift” this room. However, notice we left some of the natural character intact—the wooden beams and brick fireplace. The room is still very soft but has a few details that are allowed to “pop” despite their heavier tones. You can be generous with the white paint, but also keep in my mind the room needs some balance.


2. This little nook is light and totally comfy! The white shiplap adds brightness and texture, while the gold sconces throw in a little glimmer. Bright and airy doesn’t mean you have to stay away from patterns altogether either—just keep them on the smaller side so things don’t feel heavy.


3. The great thing about going “light and airy” is you can use it with more than one style. You can easily go coastal or you can do something more modern. In this bedroom, there’s a little bit of both. The squared off edges of the furniture bring in that modern feel but by keeping the duvet, artwork, and lighting either white or neutral, it makes the whole look bright. There’s some intentional color in this design as well which makes the room complete.

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4. In order to achieve the right vibe, it’s really helpful if you have a home with a good amount of light coming in. While paint and decor can go a long way, consider installing french doors to bring in floor to ceiling sun. We also love using rattan as a texture because it’s a lighter neutral that can be used in furniture and accessories. In fact, while there may not be a ton of color used in a light and airy design, natural textures found in wood, rattan, and pottery can keep the room from feeling bland.


5. Finally, when it comes to almost all of these rooms, you’ll notice that the window treatments are either a natural woven shade or a lighter linen fabric. Curtains can certainly make a room more inviting and finished, but stay away from dense fabrics and choose something with a more breezy feel.

We hope these tips will help you to achieve that light and airy vibe! Of course, if you need some assistance, we’re always here to help! Thanks for reading!


Mid-Century Modern With a View

Getting a little piece of the ocean is the San Diego dream, but for these next clients a view of the sea was a surprise! After searching for the perfect piece of land, they found a little plot that ran right along the edge of a beautiful state preserve where the natural beauty of neighboring trees and boulders would be their backyard. Little did they know, by building up, they’d find a view of the big blue. Of course, this was more than a chance for an ocean view. This was their chance to build their dream home—a two-story mid-century modern vision—and it was our team who came in to see that the design fit that vision. 

From the beginning, these clients wanted comfort while still being modern. Our goal was to help them achieve that welcoming feel and contemporary style while keeping it timeless. They trusted us and were willing to try out ideas which made the process an amazing experience. From paint and flooring to knobs and accessories—the design required that every detail be planned and executed with intention. While we worked on keeping the design on track, the architect and contractor moved step-by-step through the red tape that surrounds building a home next to a nature preserve. After three-and-a-half years, we finally moved in their furniture and placed every carefully planned accessory to bring them the home of their dreams!

The Guest Bedroom

When it comes to Mid-Century Modern design, accessories are minimal but crucial. Because the design needs to be kept simple, the details need to be chosen with a purpose. Throughout all of the bedrooms, we made sure to use art and minimal accessories to create a strong style without overcrowding.

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The Guest Bathroom


A Modern Staircase

A staircase is of course functional, but it can also be a statement. With the rich colored wood and metal details, this staircase provides access to both floors and contributes to that modern look.


The Media Room

Extremely cozy and a little retro, the media room provides a comfortable place to hang out. Complete with a small kitchenette for drinks and snacks, this is the room where “Netflix and Chill” is meant to happen!


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The Bathrooms


Beautiful yet simple, these bathrooms are definitely show-stoppers. Using beautiful tile and rich textures, each bathroom has it’s own unique and modern twist. (Psst, take a look at that bathtub in #2—I think we could all use one of those!)

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The Dining Room

Hello, windows! This home was meant to invite the outdoors in through the use of floor to ceiling windows. We love how the dining room is framed by the nature preserve and features natural textures and colors to compliment the beautiful surroundings.

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The Living Room

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The Kitchen

We love a bright and airy kitchen. This one is not only lovely but it connects to the living room and upstairs patio making it just right for entertaining.


The Entry


The Designers

Lead Designer: Kathy Abell

Assistant Designer: Daniel Merk-Benitez


We absolutely loved working on this project and poured our hearts into every detail from the ground up. We have to say, there’s no better feeling than seeing what you’ve worked on for so long come to fruition. Plus, it’s even better to see your dear and beloved clients finally get their dream home. They were amazing to work with and we were honored to be their design team. May they enjoy their beautiful home for years to come! Thanks for reading!

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A Nautical Nursery

This next project is a cute one! When our client’s first grandchild was born, she wanted to make sure her house was equipped with a nursery for sleepovers at Grandma’s (which we totally love). But, rather than going full “baby”, we helped her achieve a more classic design with a coastal theme so this room would last for years to come. We kept this in mind when choosing the furniture as well. Using Universal Furniture, we were able to find a crib that not only transforms into a toddler bed but a full-size bed as well. Of course, we kept the design playful by adding custom striped shades and a bright coral ottoman to complement the coastal art. The finished product is a cute and classic nursery that can easily change to fit our client’s needs.


We love that this room will be able to grow along with the client’s grandchild and future grand-babies to come! Thanks for reading!

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Modern Hawaiian Remodel

After twenty-five years in the original design of their house, our clients were ready for an update. We had already redesigned their downstairs living space, which you can check out HERE, so this time we moved upstairs to remodel their master suite and guest room. Living only a few miles from the ocean and being lovers of Hawaii, we knew their master bedroom needed to be serene and resort-like. We began with muted colors and created a modern fireplace for an atmosphere that’s inviting and calm. Adding in a relaxing sofa and cozy reading chairs, we transformed the room into the ultimate at-home getaway. Finally, to get a touch of the island, we made sure to use warm lighting, natural textures, and tropical greenery.


When it came to the master bathroom, we wanted to create a spa-like atmosphere. The dark wood closet doors are reminiscent of what you would see on the island, while the stone detail on the tub brings in a sense of serenity. Of course, the sea glass chandelier is what completes the look with a bit of ocean detail. 


Our clients wanted their guest room to be relaxing and inviting for friends and family that come to stay. Using robin’s egg blue and lighter fabrics, we carried over that same sense of calm from their master suite so that future guests feel that same resort-like ambiance.


We love that this design makes our clients home feel like a sanctuary and we hope it’s now a place where they can truly relax and unwind. Thanks for reading!