Desert-inspired landscaping and a sleek matte black exterior greet guests at the curb. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
Southern California’s Sara Simon of Handsome Salt Interior Design played by her own rules when it came to designing this stunning home in Encinitas.
The primary bathroom features custom-made sconces from Mexico City and terrazzo from San Marcos’ Concrete Collaborative PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
When it comes to the accepted wisdom of designing homes to appeal to a range of buyers—offend no one by sticking to neutrals—Sara Simon is a consistent rule breaker. Instead, the interior designer and founder of Handsome Salt Interior Design relies on the entire rainbow to create one-of-a-kind environments, and her latest project in Encinitas’ beachside Leucadia community is no exception—even if its facade casts a different impression. Painted a dramatic matte black, the exterior of the home makes a moody first impression while desertlike landscaping increases the drama heightened by the strict symmetry of windows.
The living room is highlighted by The Citizenry’s Tejal area rug teamed with a sofa and chairs from Lulu and Georgia PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
Once inside, however, Simon creates a light-flooded, color-charged experience in the open-floor-plan, 3,200-square-foot home featuring four bedrooms, 3 ½ bathrooms and a home office. “I was inspired by Moroccan riads, with a beautiful courtyard hidden behind a simple exterior,” says Simon. “I wanted to create that feeling of a great boutique hotel in the backyard.”
An array of hats act as artwork in the entryway PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
But even though Simon’s goal was to create a resortlike ambiance, it was far from what she found in the first place. Instead, Simon and her developer, husband Sven Simon, co-founder of Encinitas’ dasMOD, discovered a 750-square-foot bungalow lost in an overgrown lot. “The front of the house was totally obscured by giant yucca and agave plants, and the backyard was just dirt and tumbleweeds,” says Simon. The couple decided to anchor the property with a new home while transforming the original structure into a two-bedroom, one-bathroom guesthouse that offers even more livable space.
A painting from Art De Avalo hangs above the küdd:krig HOME bed outfitted in Cultiver linens in the primary bedroom. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
Today, the property fuses resort-inspired amenities with high-function features. The expansive, lushly landscaped backyard is highlighted by an above-ground pool and sauna teamed with built-in daybeds, benches and a fire pit, a space that’s tailor-made for both small- and large-scale entertaining. “The plants and trees are what give this garden the feeling that it’s been here for more than a year,” says Simon, who collaborated with Cheryl Kellough of Sage Garden Design in Calabasas.
Designer Sara Simon of Handsome Salt Interior Design with her husband, Sven Simon, co-founder of Encinitas’ dasMOD PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
Inside the home, Simon makes even more daring design decisions. In the kitchen, she chose countertops featuring lava stone stacked with a mitered terrazzo and birch cabinets painted a dramatic matte black. Nearby, the dining room boasts a built-in plum-toned credenza. Simon, however, saved her biggest color hits for the bathrooms where she utilized stone, tile and paint in saturated—and often mismatched—tones.
Terrazzo countertops from Concrete Collaborative and wall tiles from Clé Tile adorn the kitchen. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
Case in point: In the downstairs powder room, she paired orange Fireclay tile with a baby-blue sink from Kast and set it all off against a canvas of a terrazzo half wall. She even brought speakers into the space to reinforce the resort feel. The kids’ bathroom marries black and yellow while another creates a confection of pastel pinks.
In the home office, Simon took to a different section of the painter’s palette, opting for a salmon-hued wall arch contrasted by a pair of rust-toned chairs. “When people think of a home office, they think of neutrals. But that can get boring very quickly,” she notes. “The arch and chairs add dimension to the space in a way that’s not overwhelming or too out there.” And when an afternoon siesta is required after a long day of work, Simon has that covered with a hammock that hangs in the corner of the office, out of Zoom’s way.
Relax under an umbrella from One Kings Lane in the inviting backyard. PHOTOGRAPHED BY JENNY SIEGWART
So did Simon’s style-forward design cause the home to lag on the market? Hardly. The house sold before it officially hit the MLS. “I wanted to make this house feel like a vacation…” says Simon. “…with the goal of bringing hospitality home.”
Sara Simon, handsomesalt.com
Sage Garden Design
Terrazzo countertops in the kitchen and primary bathroom concrete-collaborative.com
Area rug in the living room the-citizenry.com
Lulu and Georgia
Sofa, chairs and select decorative pillows in the living room luluandgeorgia.com
Crate & Barrel
Side tables in the living room and dining chairs in the dining room crateandbarrel.com
Floor lamp and coffee table in the living room anthropologie.com
Bed and decorative pillow in the primary bedroom kuddkrighome.com
Art De Avalo
Cassidy Avalo, “Desert Escape” (mix media painting on canvas), 24 inches by 48 inches artdeavalo.com