A Globe Trotting Family Settles Down in a California Spanish Colonial

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Living room (Image credit: Stephanie Wiley)

Name: Fernando, Roberta and their 1 year old son
Location: Pasadena, California
The basics: 1 year, owned — 2,200 square feet

After time in Switzerland, the UK and Seattle, Fernando and Roberta found themselves in Pasadena hunting for a home. A design enthusiast, Fernando jumped at the opportunity to remodel a basically untouched Spanish Colonial home in a perfect location.

Tell us a little (or a lot) about your home and the people who live there: My wife Roberta and I bought the house a little more than a year ago. We were relocating from Seattle to Pasadena, as we were both going to work at Caltech. I’m a professor of theoretical physics there and she is a human resource consultant. We are both originally from Brazil, and we lived in London for seven years and in Zurich for one year before moving to Seattle.

I have always had a passion for interior design, and whenever I can I like to give it a try. I designed the remodel of our apartment in Brazil five years ago and I was looking forward to doing it again. When I found a charming 1926 Spanish Colonial house one mile from Caltech, which had never been renovated, I felt it was time to give it a try again. I hired goodfellas construction as the contractor for the job, which took around five months. We completely remodeled the three bathrooms and the kitchen, and fixed the rest of the house and its exterior.

My wife and I were very happy with the end result. The house is everything we hoped for. It has a lot of sunshine and the rooms flow very naturally into each other, with the common area having the feel of being a big loft. Also the outdoor space is very well integrated with the interior. For the furniture we chose to have a minimalist design, which would highlight all the colonial Spanish charm of the house. We combined some design pieces with objects we collected in different places we lived and traveled (Colombia, France, UK, India, Japan, …) and antique furniture from colonial Brazil which I inherited from my family there.

What is your favorite room and why? It’s the dining room/kitchen. It’s where we spend most of our time as a family and I really like the combination of different styles (from the modern kitchen cabinets, the retro Smeg fridge and the demolition tiles from the midwest, to the antique furniture from colonial Brazil inherited from my family and the nice french doors separating it form the rest of the house). It also has a nice view of the two living rooms, the main bathroom, and the outside. It definitely feels like the central point of the home.

If you could magically change something about your home, what would it be? I’d add an extra room to the rooftop. The rooftop was a pleasant surprise to the house. I had no idea it was there. But using the window from the stairs to the second floor, you can access it, and it has an amazing view to the nearby mountains. I would love a studio there to contemplate the view and focus on my work.

What’s the last thing you bought (or found!) for your home? A beautiful Chesterfield Sofa from Rose & Moore. It was the missing piece for the family room, which has big glass windows for the pool area and backyard. The traditional British style of the sofa is a nice break from the Californian setup of the outdoor space.

Fernando’s words of wisdom: To fill it with objects that means something to the owner, but to select them well. Less can be more many times.

Thanks, Fernando!

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