A designer reinvents a young family’s historic California home with classic style and whimsy.
Happy hues and durable textiles pave the way for family life in a century-old California home.
This photo: Glimmering fabrics and lighting set a romantic mood in Jessica and Chad Herrin’s dining room, used for both special occasions and everyday family meals. A hide rug grounds an espresso-glossed custom dining table by designer Kendall Wilkinson and custom chairs covered in platinum vinyl. Opposite: Art by Joshua Meyer, custompainted silk wallpaper, and a velvet-clad bench offer a spirited greeting to guests.
A cocktail party in a closet? Cupcake wars for a child’s birthday party in a formal dining room where dignitaries have dined? Why not? That’s life for Jessica and Chad Herrin, and versatility is the enduring legacy of the couple’s 1902 California home.
That potential, however, was less-than-realized when the couple first laid eyes upon the place. “We pulled up and debated whether we should even go inside,” Jessica says.
“It was a wreck.” But Jessica—an entrepreneurial visionary who cofounded a wedding gift registry website at age 24 and later started the social jewelry-selling business Stella & Dot—is hardly averse to a challenge. “I fell in love with the property,” she says. “Once I convinced Chad it wasn’t total madness, we dedicated ourselves to making it a comfortable family home.”
With two young daughters, Charlie and Tatum, the couple wanted their new home to cocoon their immediate family as easily as it would welcome large groups. “It was our goal to honor its heritage and keep its old-world charm, yet update it to feel youthful,” designer Kendall Wilkinson says.
And so the house was almost completely gutted, “brick by brick and wall by wall,” Jessica says. The painstaking process— regulated by historical preservation protections—took three years, resulting in open spaces more conducive to entertaining. Still, its architecture was respected, even revered. Moldings and trims were replicated, doorways embellished, and original millwork salvaged. Jessica’s feminine aesthetic was then woven throughout. “This house sparkles,” Wilkinson says. “We have mirrors, we have Lucite, we have gold, we have platinum—it’s a lot like Jessica’s jewelry. A lot of the furnishings feel like jewelry, and much of the palette came from her jewelry.”
That neutral palette is subtly punctuated by shades of plum. Ranging from aubergine to lavender, orchid, and raspberry, they wash over rooms that, upon close inspection, reveal tonal surprise. “I was attracted to things that felt youthful, as a counterpoint to an otherwise mature home,” Jessica says. Largely textural, featuring an occasional statement-making print or pattern, upholstered furnishings accommodate Cheetos-eating children and the family’s Goldendoodle with nary a shrug. “To me, a home is meant to be lived in,” Jessica says. “I care more about people connecting in my home than I care about the carpet.”
The living room’s rug and sofa fabrics were kept neutral to allow art and accent fabrics to add high voltage. White-shag-covered ottomans with Lucite legs keep the mood youthful, providing a whimsical counterpoint to the room’s formal millwork.
“This house has a soul. It spoke to me immediately.”
—HOMEOWNER JESSICA HERRIN
The library’s original casework is painted high-gloss black to confer unabashedly dramatic style. “I love the mix of black and yellow,” Wilkinson says. “It elevates the space from feeling old-world to Mad Men- ish. It’s a little more fun.”
This photo: The closet design maximizes space for displaying Jessica’s collection of jewelry. Opposite left: Silver leaf glams up a contemporary bed in the master suite. Velvet-covered armchairs and rosewood-veneer nightstands punctuate the toneon-tone room. Opposite right: Marble floors and an abundance of mirrored surfaces wash the bath in classic style.