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An Enchanting Transformation: Home Renovation at its Finest

PHOTOs by Harrison Photographic, Courtesy of San Diego Home and Garden

Rebecca Robeson, interior designer extraordinaire, recently completed an enormous, exciting task few others would dare undertake. She accepted the challenge of renovating a grand Mount Soledad home. Her first goal was to find a way to direct the eye toward an incredible spiral staircase in the area, drawing focus to the home’s verticality and expanse.

What she wanted was a light fixture hung from the very top ceiling of the home that would come down 30 feet to light up all three floors of the place. “Nothing like that existed unless it was some sort of glitzy, Vegas-looking thing. I wanted a classic design aesthetic. There was another problem: How was I going to hang anything from the glass skylight in the staircase ceiling?” 


Undeterred by the unique challenge, Robeson had the idea to use an art-like sculptural piece as a light fixture; she ordered 48 Bocci balls that were hand-blown glass, weighing only five pounds each. She also designed a steel support with branches that weighed in at 700 pounds and had it welded to the home’s main post. Using rope-tied water bottles numbered to correspond with the balls, she determined pendant placement throughout the stairwell. As her design was nearing completion, the balls replaced the water bottles – each of which was lighted and individually wired.


What did the homeowner think of Robeson’s solution? “I never would have thought of the creative design changes Rebecca made. I couldn’t visualize her solutions, but I soon learned that when she made a recommendation, it was a good idea to adopt it,” explains homeowner Martin Chitwood. “Her ideas turned out better than I could have imagined and added immensely to the home’s appeal.”

What other solutions serve as examples of Robeson’s unique solutions? Take the guest bedrooms in the house, for example: She themed each of the three unique from the others. One has a Nantucket scheme, and another includes a cozy space decked out in velvets and brocades with a sliding door that leads out to a fountain that is part of a rock-shelter cavern. The final guest bedroom is light-filled and adorned in beautiful coastal colors, complete with a sliding glass door that opens to an ocean view patio.

As for the master bedroom, breathtaking ocean views are the main center of focus, along with a fireplace wall accented with backlit granite. The lighting is designed to accentuate the natural veining of the stone, adding an incredible element of intrigue.


Rebecca also took on the challenge of transforming three of the home’s “bubble spaces,” as she called them, into attractive little-accented areas, each with its own unique appeal. There was one such space in the master bedroom, one on the main floor, and one at the lower entry level. The spaces were oddly shaped with curved glass windows, resembling fish tanks, according to her. The master interior designer transformed each space using a unique theme: For the master bedroom, the space became a viewing retreat with a nautical touch. The space on the entry level features a telescope in a study filled with memorabilia and books. On the main floor, the space became a stunning formal dining room with an ocean panorama.


Rebecca explains, “When you go up to the second (main) floor, the dining room bubble space lies straight ahead of you from the circular staircase. The previous owners had put a booth in it, facing back into the main part of the house, which was open but broken up into three segments [a living room, a dining table across from the booth and a secondary seating room]. A pair of square columns, covered in knotty pine, created a ridiculous hallway to the left of the staircase that only served to make this narrow space narrower.”

She was able to open the interior by removing the extra pillars, along with the drop-down ceiling soffits in an area behind the secondary seating and in the kitchen. “The kitchen was unusually large compared to the other weird-shaped rooms and had more cabinets than you can imagine, all in honey maple,” Rebecca says. “In the kitchen’s center was a grand piano-shaped island that looked like it belonged to Liberace. If that wasn’t bad enough, over the top of the thing was a drywall ceiling soffit shaped just like it.”


The remodeled kitchen features cabinets in a dark chocolate finish, a beveled-glass, five-tiered chandelier, a clean-lined island with a backlit granite top, and a metallic-finished backsplash. The sophisticated design gives the homeowner flexibility, thanks to a corner space of the kitchen that’s been transformed into a cocktail area with a movable bar. The bar can fit into the home’s elevator, and rolled to the surround-sound theater on the entry level. The theater was designed by Rebecca too, and features fabric-padded walls and a custom ceiling with walnut panels in a diamond pattern. The bar can also go up to the rooftop, where guests enjoy a blowout space with incredible views, a vanishing edge pool, lounge areas, a spa, outdoor kitchen, a bathroom with a bronze sink and hand-sculpted European faucets and showerheads, and a hydraulic lift television – not to mention the four fire pits.

Homeowner Martin Chitwood states that visitors call the rooftop area “The Garden of Eden,” and Rebecca agrees. “That rooftop is incredible; but where I took it, it’s a whole new story,” she says. This rooftop is one of the main reasons Chitwood decided to purchase the home.

“Rebecca turned it into a five-star resort where you can sit in awe of city views, sailboat running lights in the harbor at night and lights belonging to anchored ships farther out to sea. You can see Torrey Pines and the glider port and watch hang gliders with all their beautiful colors soar over the water,” he explains. “You also can look back toward the hillside to see fruit trees and the side of Mount Soledad and imagine yourself in a mountain retreat. No matter where you look, you have that peaceful feeling of communing with nature.” 

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