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Nature Is a Big Influence in This Sunny San Diego Home

September 01, 2020

Designer Nikki Klugh decorated this California midcentury modern-inspired home for two Cornell scientists inspired by the natural world and art.

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Photo: Jim Brady of Brady Architectural Photography

Holistic Approach

If San Diego-based designer Nikki Klugh looks familiar, you may have caught her on BET, NBC or other lifestyle shows. She helms the award-winning Nikki Klugh Design Group, and approaches projects by designing with all five senses in mind in order to create what she feels is a sacred space for her clients.

Such was the case for one of her latest designs. Her clients — two new San Diego transplants — needed help designing and furnishing their 2,156-square-foot midcentury-inspired home. While tackling the four-bed, two-bath space, Klugh also made sure to incorporate the homeowners' interests. "Much of the inspiration for their home originated with their love for all things science and nature, as they are both researchers at Cornell University," Klugh says.

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Photo: Jim Brady of Brady Architectural Photography

Guiding Inspiration

Klugh says the living room's inspiration came from the 16th century painting The Harvesters by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, one of the couple's favorite works, because it draws parallels to their work as scientific researchers. "It was a perfect starting point," says Klugh, "given that the color palette worked so well with the elements of the home that we needed to work with, like the blond flooring and the aged wood fireplace surround." (Though the home wasn't built until 1980, it does contain some midcentury features found in original styles, like the wood paneled wall.)

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Photo: Jim Brady of Brady Architectural Photography

New Vision

"This space was very challenging for the homeowners to envision, because the previous owners showed this room as one very large family room," Klugh says. She ended up converting it into to a living/dining room combo, and then transformed the former dining room into a study.

Klugh also added two chandeliers to anchor the new dining room. "The slope of the vaulted ceiling provided a fun way to offset the heights of the science-inspired lighting; they remind us of atoms!"

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Photo: Jim Brady of Brady Architectural Photography

Family Time

The homeowners relocated from Ithaca, New York, in order to live closer to their grandchildren, and this table is large enough to accommodate everyone. In the corners, large fiddle-leaf figs (a favorite plant with designers because of its striking shape and leaf form) help balance the space while adding a tropical element.

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