A Cultivated Office Space

When the owners of Cultivate: A Counseling Collective approached us about designing a new office space in University Heights, we couldn’t wait to get started. At their first meeting with designer Daniel Merk-Benitez, the owners shared that they wanted the space to embody their vision of becoming “a warm and inspiring path to wholeness.” Based on that goal, we knew that the space needed to feel more like a home than an office. Daniel’s hope was to create an environment where every time a client entered the lobby, they could immediately relax, breathe easy, and feel comfortable.


We’ve all experienced an office space that’s cold and uninviting, so we made sure to run far in the opposite direction. By choosing furniture pieces that created a homey feel, artwork that was whimsical, and placing plants everywhere, we designed a space that truly welcomes people in. Beyond that, the Cultivate team wanted to infuse youthful style throughout the offices, so we added touches of brass, blush, and funky pillows. To keep things fresh and airy, Daniel used his favorite shade of white, Dunn-Edwards’ Whisper, and left the open beams and ducting to make the whole space feel more casual.


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When he first started designing the space, Daniel fell in love with this photograph of a quizzical giraffe. He knew he had to use it and it ended up setting the tone for the entire space. Every client sees it at the end of the long hallway, and it screams—”This is NOT your typical office space.” In fact, a few weeks after the space opened, a young child came with their father for a first appointment. Upon entering, the child exclaimed, “Dad, this isn’t a doctor’s office! It’s a home.” Based on those words, we feel we can say mission accomplished!

We’re also happy to report that a year after Cultivate opened this space, they began construction on a second location in La Mesa Village. We were honored they asked us to collaborate again, and we can’t wait to share it here soon. Keep an eye out and thanks for reading!

Design by: Daniel Merk-Benitez

Incorporating Color into Your Home

Color breathes life into a space! Colors are also personal—we all have our favorites and we all have hues that bother us. That’s why it’s so important to choose the right colors when creating a home. Different spectrums of color can also create a feeling in a room—some are relaxing and tranquil while others are energizing! Of course, we know choosing from a rainbow of hues can also feel daunting, and I’m sure we’ve all seen color gone wrong whether it be in a room, an outfit, or a hair change (yikes!). Fortunately, we have great inspiration for color done right! Check it out!

Eclectic Rustic

This first project is for true color-lovers! Orange, yellow, turquoise, and green all play a part in the palette giving it a cheerful but cohesive design. So, how did we achieve the use of many colors with plenty of balance? First, notice if the art and accessories were stripped away, the room is actually very neutral. The bigger pieces of furniture are gray or a natural wood which creates a blank canvas. As we added in fabrics, we ensured that each of them have something in common—a color, like the burnt orange, or even a shape, like the paisley. The accessories and art continued this connection of color and gives the room a unified style.

You can check out more of this project HERE!


Metropolitan RowHome

Paint is another fun way to pack a punch of color. Since it’s easily changed, paint is also a safe way to try something new. This rowhome is a great example of how to use paint to add in some color. The fireplace is already a more prominent feature via the architecture, but we made it pop even more by painting it Naval by Sherwin Williams. It acts as a centerpiece for the room and ties together the rest of the navy fabrics and accessories. Statement walls and kitchen islands are also great places to play with some paint!

You can check out more of this project HERE!


Modern Hawaiian

If you like clean lines and neutrals, then this home showcases how to incorporate color without going overboard. With white furniture, white walls, and natural wood as the background, the pops of green stand out through the use of art, fabric, and accessories. For this project, it was important that the highlighted color be something found in nature because the design really plays up natural textures and outdoor art. Green, while it can be vibrant, brings a sense of tranquility and reminds us of relaxing on cool green grass or under lush trees. This is a good example of using color that catches the eye but still feels organic.

You can check out more of this project HERE!


Whether you’re already a color-lover or you’re still trying to figure out how to incorporate it into your space, we hope this encourages you to feel free to add a little color to your home and try something new! Thanks for reading!

An Italian Getaway

Sometimes it can be difficult to have clarity about exactly which style fits your space and life best. Of course, that’s what we’re here for! These next clients knew after 15 years in their home they wanted a change, but they needed some guidance on finding their own style. With Italian roots, this family’s home sits on their own winery—so we knew that the feel of an Italian Villa would fit perfectly. Take a look!


Our clients loved red—but beyond that, they truly trusted us with the vision. We mixed warm leather with vibrant red fabrics to give the feel of a rich but comfortable space. Artwork of the Italian countryside mixed with old doors, gates and wood tiles gave the sense of pieces collected from travel throughout Italy.

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We also wanted to give them plenty of space to entertain. Giving them a formal dining room for larger gatherings along with a more intimate setting near the kitchen created more options for hosting!


We hope our clients not only love their new space but feel it’s more like home than ever! They were truly a dream to work with and allowed us do what we do best. We’re so thankful to have been a part of making their house a home. Thanks for reading! Saluti!

Design by: Julie Benitez

A Little Inspiration!

Inspiration is the beginning component of creating any design. You need a focal point—something to keep your design on track and bring all the pieces together. Inspiration works as the influence and vision for your project—but, first, you have to find where that inspiration is going to come from. As lead designers at Kathy Ann Abell Interiors, each of us have our own way of finding inspiration for a project. We’re all different in our approach, but we all end up with a completed design that we love! We thought we’d share just how we find the vision for some of our projects. Check it out!


Fabric First!

I always like to start with fabrics. When I was a new designer, I began with model homes and pulling fabrics was the way I learned to create a cohesive look. It’s stuck with me all these years, and it’s still the way I find inspiration best! I generally start with my main fabric—which is the focal point of the design—then I bounce everything off that. For example, in this master bedroom, I started with a floral print from Schumacher and used it to choose art that would compliment those colors. I pulled the dusty blue hue to create the headboard and the rich blue accents in the lamps and pillows are from that fabric as well. Because the main fabric was comprised of cooler colors, I chose a warm sand accent for the walls and small details.



Something Special

For me, inspiration comes when I find a unique piece or accessory. Whenever I find that special something, the puzzle just begins to fall into place! In this project, I designed both the living room and dining room, so each room had it’s own vision born from different pieces. In the living space, the mid-century accent cabinet and modern lamps were the two pieces that sparked the creation of the rest of the room. The pops of yellow in the art and accent fabrics are cohesive with the lamps, while the wood hues compliment the cabinet.


In the dining room, the true inspiration came from the art and the lighting piece. These components definitely play well with the hues in the living room, but it still has a unique feel. The texture of the art acted as the muse for the host and hostess chair fabric while the chandelier kept a taste of mid-century modern in the room.



A Piece that Pops

I tend to choose my fabrics toward the end of my design-phase and look for inspiration in accessories or furniture. In this metropolitan row home, the lamps and lighting pieces gave me the vision for the space. I loved the blue and white that popped from the lamps behind the couch and used those pigments in my fabrics to make it cohesive. The floor lamp behind the accent chair also gave me the main hue of wood that flows throughout the room. Both types of lamps are contemporary which kept the space modern and sleek.



Fitting the Room

As a design assistant, it falls to me to really think through accessories and style. In this incredible pool house that Kathy designed, I pulled inspiration from the built-in shelves and unique cabinetry. It was more about looking at the build of the space and letting that be the thing that guided how details should fit. Each space needed to be balanced and that meant being extremely detailed about every piece I chose. Some of the accessories needed to be gold to tie in the hardware from the room, while other details were white or blue for color contrast. Texture is important too, so choosing woven features brought in a natural finish.


It’s fun to work with a group of people who all work a little differently. Each of us is inspired in unique ways but, somehow, we all end up with a finished result that we’re proud to show our clients. We hope this post inspired you just a little bit too. Thanks for reading!

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!