Name: Carol and Lee Estes
Location: Rancho Bernardo — San Diego, California
Size: 1900 Square Feet
Years Lived In: 20 years, owned
Carol Estes is an interior designer who recently built a substantial Instagram following simply by sharing photos of her own home's eclectic interior. Over the last 20 years, Carol and her husband Lee have slowly transformed their modest three-bedroom San Diego home into a space that reflects their passion for European travel and houses their well-curated collection of eclectic art and antiquities.
Carol's "high-low" approach to design coupled with a keen eye for editing makes her balanced home an inspiration for anyone who loves antiques and imported treasures. A striking collection of French and English flea market finds mingle with the likes of IKEA linens and HomeGoods knick-knacks. Rearranging her bounty regularly not only provides endless fun content for her Instagram fans (of which I am one), but it also helps keep the home's energy from falling stagnant, a challenge that many longtime homeowners face.
Besides the fresh croissants and homemade cappuccinos (humble brag), my favorite part about touring the couple's home was that, even though the house was filled with museum-worthy pieces, it ultimately felt comfortable. Carol encouraged me to move whatever I wanted and to make myself at home. After finding out her lightweight rustic dining table was from 17th century Avignon France, however, I immediately questioned my choice to hoist it back and forth while photographing the adjacent coffee bar...
Apartment Therapy Survey
My Style: Well-curated eclectic Euro mix
Inspiration: Annual travels to Europe
Favorite Element: Texture provided by natural, neutral elements
Biggest Challenge: Keeping my environment well-edited. I love to buy unique finds on my trips but I do not like to live with clutter.
What Friends Say: Your house is always so neat and serene. I feel like I can breathe deeper and relax just staring at it. Your kitchen is my all-time favorite!
Biggest Embarrassment: My current pool tile. Next project is to replace it all!!
Proudest DIY: When my contractors let ME do all the sanding and staining of my reclaimed beams and shelves and took photos of me in the process. Also, I get lots of compliments and questions on how I did the redesign of my '70s brick fireplace. I didn't do all the heavy work, but did each step of the design process.
Biggest Indulgence: Changing shape and size of most of my windows and doors. Also, using Calacutta marble on all bath, kitchen, and pantry counters. I love white marble and have not regretted it!
Best Advice: Buy the best quality you can afford with clean lines. Clean lines are typically more timeless than more decorative curving lines. When you want a trendy item, don't pay a high price for it as you will soon be tossing it for the next trend. I love to shop thrift stores, vintage markets and antique shops for unique items at good prices. These items will set your style apart as original and creative. Hire an interior designer so you don't waste money on mistakes and ultimately get what makes you happy!
Coffee Table— West Elm
Walls – Farrow and Ball Slipper Satin Belgian Track Arm 8' Sofa in Sand Linen with standard fill — Restoration Hardware
Sisal (Almond Color) Rug – Crate&Barrel
Black Floor Lamp – France and Son
Two Leather Wesson Chairs – Four Hands
Side Table – Four Hands
Cowhide Rug - Chesterfield
Antique Pine Bench – Yorkshire Pine
Art above sofa – Colette Cosentino Creative
Rattan side table – Amsterdam Modern
Magazine rack – Amsterdam Modern
Dining Table – 17th Century from Avignon France
Dining Chairs – One was an Estate sale find, Danish made vintage; Three are from Design Within Reach
Custom Cabinetry – White Oak
Back wall of cabinetry – Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain
Other walls – Farrow and Ball Slipper Satin
Chandelier – West Elm San Diego
Hide – IKEA
Oversized bowl and small ceramics on coffee bar shelving – Dekorla
Brass candle sticks on coffee bar — Dekorla
Refrigerator and Dishwasher – Bosche from Pirch La Jolla
36' Range and microwave in pantry – Bertazzoni
Cabinetry – Custom
Hardware – San Diego Hardware
Counters – Calacutta Marble Amazon Tile and Slab
Backsplash subway tiles – Walker Zanger. Handmade in Spain
Sink – Kohler Pirch La Jolla
Faucet – Kohler
Pantry Door – Custommade and finished
Windows – Anderson
Flooring – Travertine Stone from Daltile
Walls – Benjamin Moore Elmira White
Ceramics on open shelving – Amsterdam Modern
Vessel on dining table – Dekorla