Sass Construction and Design

Sass Construction and Design is a division of Shelley Sass Designs, and was the next logical step after the many bathroom, kitchen and entire home remodels undertaken and delivered by Shelley Sass Designs.

As a local business in the San Diego area, we attribute our reputation (see reviews here) to the lasting customer relationships we’ve developed throughout the years. 

Shelley Sass Designs

Contractor Number: 1067716


Home By The Sea Project

La Jolla Full Home Remodel

Tell us more about the project. What was the home like before and what was the client’s goal?

This home was purchased right at the beginning of  COVID by a couple who were relocating to San Diego from Los Angeles to be near their children and grandchildren. This home was completely outdated (as is visible from the before images) and needed a complete renovation which is exactly what we did. Everything from floor to ceiling in the entire 2500sf single level home (with the exception of the kitchen and master bathroom vanity) was demoed out. We also removed a few walls, the most significant being the wall dividing the living room and dining room, making it into one big open plan room. 

My client’s goal was to end up with a beautiful comfortable home that would meet their needs both practically and aesthetically, filled with thoughtful and special things, and a clean, warm, cozy and inviting feel that would be timeless for years to come.

Where is this project located (neighborhood not address)?

La Jolla, San Diego

Any specific challenges for this project?

No challenges, everything went really smoothly and according to plan, and the entire project was completed in 3 months by our team.

What did the client have to say?

I’m thrilled to say that my clients are ecstatic in their “new” home and love every single detail in every single room! They told me it is everything they dreamed of and more. I have been back a few times since the project was completed and they are more in love now than ever. See “Sheila Hermel” testimonial here

How long did this project take to complete?

3 months which is record timing for a whole home remodel

How would you describe the main theme for this project?

“Home by the Sea” is the perfect description for this project. It is clean, crisp, neat, fresh, inviting and cozy, and gives you the feeling of being on vacation by the sea.  

What was your inspiration behind this design style?

Once my clients described the look and feel they wanted to achieve, it all came very naturally, and everything fell into place and just worked. I guess the house location with sea view, although distant, inspired it all. It’s in a lovely quiet part of La Jolla and there is something so awesome about a single level home with a beautiful calming outdoor area. I pulled inspiration from showing my clients images of ideas that I thought would work well including past projects, as well as incorporating their new wants/needs into this next chapter of their lives. I knew the design of the home needed to be functional, not fussy, while still having that beautiful, eclectic and warm aesthetic that they love. Through mindful selections like super durable and low maintenance luxury vinyl planks throughout, and life-friendly furnishings like leather dining chairs and performance fabric furniture, this home is perfect for spending time with family and friends  – young and old, all year round. 

What was the main goal when you were designing this space? 

My main goal was to give them exactly what they asked for as specified above, and by seeing the potential, the solutions, and the opportunities in this home, I believe I gave them exactly what they asked for. I have to admit, there’s nothing quite like the feeling of seeing a beautiful transformation take place as in the case of this home. These clients came to me looking to renovate this home to suit their personal style and needs of their large growing extended family, and through reconfiguring the floor-plan, taking down a wall or 2, changing floors, painting, renovations the bathrooms and more, this home is a place they will enjoy with their family and friends for years to come. That was my goal!

We love the bright and airy nature of the design, especially the living room space. Is this a common theme when designing a home by the beach? How were you able to achieve that?

No, it is not common at all, but it was the result of what my clients wanted, and what they asked for. Removing the wall between the dining room and living room changed everything, facilitating the open plan airy feel. If that wall was not removed the space would have been completely different.  

We know that the open-concept style is very popular right now. With this project, was the open-floor layout the client’s idea? How do you find out if an open-floor layout will work for a client? 

Open concept is popular but not necessarily what everyone wants, so one should never assume that it is. In this case, it was both my client’s idea and my idea. It’s really about asking the right questions and listening carefully to the answers to find out if an open plan layout will work and suit the needs of the particular client. In this case, removing the wall between the dining room and living room was a no-brainer and completely changed everything!

We love the subdued earthy tones and pops of color in this project. Are these colors what clients usually go for when designing a coastal home? Aside from these colors, what hues and tones are ideal for beach homes?

No, nothing is a given and each of my projects is truly unique, and every single one is different and special in its own way. The people and the space dictate the design. The big piece of art you see on the wall in front of you as you walk into the home became our color palette because we loved the colors so much. All large furniture pieces we selected are neutral because this allows for the most versatility (which is what I usually like to do), and I picked up colors from the art as accents.  I usually like to work with a fairly neutral color palette with pops of color and pattern here and there. This keeps the design feeling timeless and elevated, while still having personality and interest. The philosophy adopted in this space is very much in line with my vision. I tend to favor designs that are livable, interesting, timeless, and can be easily re-invented by simply changing out the art, throw pillows, rugs, window treatments, and accessories. 

Can you discuss a bit about the flooring choice for this coastal home? Why did you choose hardwood flooring? Why not tiles or luxury vinyl plank flooring?

This actually is a luxury vinyl plank believe it or not, these days it’s hard to tell the difference! I have done this exact plank in about 10 of my projects to date, including my own home. It is great quality, super durable, so versatile, and works with most design styles. I am a very practical person and I love the low maintenance worry-free nature of this product. I also love that you can run it into any room (because it’s waterproof), and in this home it was installed on the entire floor including all bathrooms and kitchen which creates a great flow and automatic cohesion in the project.

What’s your favorite design detail about this project? Any particular thing that makes it unique from other projects?

Honestly, I love it all! I cannot pinpoint a specific thing. We achieved the most awesome cohesion in this home through combining the perfect combination of furniture, colors, materials, and styles, and as a result, everything flows so well. Probably the most exciting thing was that I had the opportunity to source and select every single piece of furniture without worrying about accommodating any existing furniture into my design. Aside from some art and accessories, everything was new. This allowed me to have complete design independence (obviously on a slight budget) and to carefully curate this space and select each piece with intention.

Tell us more about the furniture and decor. What materials did the client specifically ask for? Are materials such as wood, rattan, and wicker typical when decorating homes by the beach?

Yes, these materials can be quite typical in this design style but sometimes people opt for something different. My client didn’t ask for any specific materials but once I had a clear design brief and understanding of the project, the materials I selected were the most obvious choice.

Tell us about the design idea for the backyard. When it comes to odd-shaped and small backyards, how are you able to maximize space? What are your go-to design elements for coastal-themed backyards?

Again we wanted the backyard to feel beachy, breezy, warm and inviting, and have a vacation vibe. There was a waterfall already there which is awesome. We selected a great outdoor furniture including a dining table and chairs, a bar table and chairs, and a seating area. Multiple string lights both around the house as well as the gazebo area were a must to give us the ambiance we were after. I work with an incredible landscaping company that assists my clients and I with design, and they provide CAD drawings as part of their service. We collaborate and design backyards of all shapes and sizes, and it’s amazing what can be accomplished, the sky is the limit!

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