Before & After: A Fresh Start In San Diego

Before & After: A Fresh Start In San Diego

Before & After: A Fresh Start In San Diego


For a couple downsizing to a condo near the beach, designer Caity Hall uses their San Diego condo as a chance to upgrade their style for bright, airy space that feels refreshingly timeless.

Photos by Jennifer Siegwart

A new home can be a welcome excuse to give a new style a whirl. For Caity Hall’s clients Brad and Michelle, the move from a house to a two-bedroom, 1,770-square-foot condo near the beach in San Diego provided a golden opportunity to re-evaluate their personal style—without the pressure to make existing pieces work.

“They wanted a fresh start with their design—they wanted the rooms to feel comfortable and casual, but still curated and styled,” Caity shares. “It was also important to them to make sure the spaces were finished to the last detail, so we styled every little corner.”

The fresh start wasn’t just for them. The condo needed an overhaul as well. Caity balanced major renovations in the kitchen and bathroom with smart choices that made the best of the space’s bones.

Befitting the locale, Caity aimed for a casual California aesthetic—bright and airy but with elements of contrast, like deep olive soapstone and pops of black to anchor the spaces. Natural materials, organic textures, and rich neutrals help ground the home’s clean, contemporary lines.

In the kitchen, Caity kept the kitchen’s existing layout—with some tweaks to give the space a visual lift.

“We got rid of the bar height countertop that really visually blocked off the kitchen from the dining room,” Caity explains. “To stick with our bright and classic theme, we painted the cabinetry white. But to add some contrast and edge, we used a beautiful soapstone countertop and black hardware. The brass pendants were a fun, detail element. We also replaced the appliances and removed the cabinet over the range, so we could bring the beautiful backsplash tile all the way up and create a real focal point in the space. The unique pattern of the tile and the subtle crackle finish give the space a really polished feel.”

One of the few spaces where the couple wanted to save something from their current home was the dining room. Here, Caity took their existing art to new heights, keeping the furnishing pared down to let the pieces shine.

“We left a large wall for this piece, and stayed away from any bold colors in the dining room furniture to make it the focus,” Caity explained.

In the bedroom, Caity replaced the carpet with a subtle pattern that lends a fresh feel. A warm, wooden dresser and coat of dark olive on Michelle’s old desk balance earthy and attitude. To correct for the small, slightly awkward wall where the bed is located, Caity opted for wall-mounted sconces and airy basket tables.

To create a departure from the neutral kitchen and guest bathroom, Caity pushed the boundaries in the master bathroom through the use of arresting tile.

“The Tabarka tile on the master bathroom wall was one of our first jumping off points, and definitely one of our favorite elements,” she explains. “We customized the hand-painted terracotta tiles, and used them on the wall rather than the floor, to really create that central focal point.”

As a finishing touch, she also painted the vanity to complement the tiles for a bolder effect. From there, the rest of the space was about balance.

“The polished nickel fixtures and lighting contrast with the aged feel of the tiles, and the wood-framed mirrors stand out without taking away from the tile,” Caity explained.

Balance also came into play in the guest bathroom, where Caity wanted to cultivate a more masculine, contemporary feel.

“We used handmade elongated white subway tiles in a linear pattern with dark grout, so it’s a combo of contemporary and classic,” she shared. “The black faucets and light fixtures are slightly industrial against the clean marble hex floor tiles.”


Throughout the space, Caity looked at some of the condo’s less-than-ideal structures as opportunities to revitalize the space.

“There were three awkward ’90s feeling nooks in the space that we wanted to make feel more intentional,” Caity says. “In the entryway, we framed out the bottom of the nook, added shelving, lighting, and then installed the blue grasscloth wallpaper behind it. I love how it created such a nice entryway detail.”

In the living room, the second nook became a custom built-in for the TV. The third nook, a built-in bar off the kitchen.

“The nooks became really fun design elements or functional storage for them,” Caity explains.

That best of both worlds feeling applied to the couple as well.

“Brad and Michelle are a great combination because Brad focuses on the small details like tile layout and faucets, while Michelle loves the overall feel of the spaces and the design elements,” Caity explained.

Luckily as the project progressed, Caity earned just as much trust as the couple had for each other.

“By the time we were done with the kitchen and bathroom designs, Brad and Michelle were a lot more willing to put their full trust in me, so the design process was collaborative and easy flowing,” Caity shares. “I love that I could use their style, but push them to be a little more bold.”

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