The Oldenkamp home in SLO: A Mediterranean inspiration

Mementos and memories in each room make this home special for the owner

rajuretic@sbcglobal.netApril 23, 2014 

Interior designer Judy Oldenkamp has worked with her share of large estates and sizable budgets. But it’s the more modest projects that challenge her expertise.

“The smaller the space, the harder the design, and with limited funds there are less choices,” she said.

This was the case when she remodeled her own approximately 2,000-square-foot San Luis Obispo home. She and husband Robert purchased the 1975 ranch-style residence in 1993. Oldenkamp was raised in San Luis Obispo in a Catholic family, and the home’s Spanish Missionstyle exterior resonated with her.

She was also drawn to its large, one-third-acre backyard. Before the couple moved in, they hired architect John Pryor and general contractor Phil Enns to remodel the rear of the house to better take advantage of views. Among their changes were a complete kitchen remodel, a new windowed breakfast nook, and French doors leading to the rear patio.

By 2000, Oldenkamp felt it was time to update again, which she accomplished with the help of general contractor Greg Moore. This time, she was inspired by a recent trip to Italy that shaped her new design philosophy.

“To their way of thinking, it is unpardonable to live in a house full of rootless pieces with no secrets and bruises of history,” she said.

The living and dining rooms offer the most literal interpretation of Mediterranean design with details such as arched doorways and wrought iron accents. She added an Italian-inspired surround to her simple brick fireplace. Douglas fir ceiling beams, distressed with an electric saw, make a strong architectural statement.

In several rooms, she hired decorative painters Catherine Panofsky and Lynn Bankston to cover walls in a warm glaze for a subtle aged look. Oldenkamp considers wall treatments an art, and not a simple DIY project.

“When glazing is done professionally by an artist, it truly gives an Old World feel to a room,” she said.

When it comes to furnishing her home, her personal style is what she calls “traditional Euro- pean.” But she’s not afraid to veer toward eclecticism. “Mediterranean settings look as if they’ve been furnished at an unhurried pace, by several generations of family,” she said.

For instance, in the casual family room, she pairs a rattan loveseat with another loveseat she purchased 20 years ago that was recently reupholstered in distressed leather and tapestry fabric. She said that disparate items work together when you use “colors that complement each other and similar shapes.”

Her own history permeates every room in the house with displays of favorite travel mementos, handmade ceramics, art and antiques. Several items were inherited from her mother, from whom Oldenkamp acquired her love of antique auctions. Among her favorite family heirlooms are a century-old French armoire and a 1930s chocolate brown Chesterfield velvet sofa; both are in the living room.

Other favorite pieces are those she and Robert picked up when traveling. For instance, in the guest room are two marbletopped night stands found at an antique store in Pacific Grove, a bedspread brought home from Portugal, and Italian bedside lamps purchased in the Napa Valley.

In the living room is a space where Oldenkamp celebrates and shares her love of wine. “I found few people knew much about wine among our friends, so I designed the wine room and began giving wine tastings at home,” she said. She added a wine bar, wine storage and comfortable seating. She hired artist Gerri O’Brien to add the finishing touches. O’Brien faux painted the fireplace to look like limestone. She also created a painting for above the fireplace mantel depicting Oldenkamp’s “dream home in the vineyards.”

This house may not be that vineyard home, but for Oldenkamp, it epitomizes the wine country lifestyle she enjoys. “I know this house is not a Spanish hacienda or a Tuscan villa or a Provencal farm house,” she said, “but with my memories and mementos, I made it my special place.”

Judy Oldenkamp may be reached at her business, Judy Marie Interiors, 543-2654.


GET HELP WITH COLOR If choosing paint colors seems overwhelming, consider getting help. A professional color consultant can save you from making costly mistakes. She can also share tricks of the trade, such as ways to make a small space seem larger or downplay undesirable features in a room.

FOLLOW YOUR ARCHITECTURE Instead of following trends, let the architecture of your home dictate your design choices. There will be better flow throughout the house, and it can sometimes save you money. For instance, not every new or remodeled kitchen has to have expensive granite countertops or stainless steel appliances.

CREATE ARCHITECTURAL INTEREST Modern rooms often lack architectural features such as substantial moldings. Create depth and interest without a major remodel with simple accents. For instance, you can hang a decorative wrought iron grille or a large framed mirror. To create a more welcoming guest room, Judy Oldenkamp installed an old fireplace mantel, then added candles and an iron screen.

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