Laurel and Saeed Davar have lived abroad and traveled around the world. But the inspiration for their current home came from just 150 miles up the coast.
Strolling the streets of Carmel, they became enchanted with the warm and sometimes whimsical stone cottages there. “They have hints of Old World elegance without the formality,” said Laurel Davar.
Their previous home was a more formal interpretation of Old World. The 4,000-square-foot Mediterranean estate in Edna Ranch was inspired by the Palladian villas outside Venice.
But the Davars felt it was time for a more relaxed lifestyle. “The whole idea was for something casual, comfortable and intimate, without all that grandiosity,” she said.
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They hired architect Tom Martin and Irwin Construction to create a 3,300-square-foot, two-level custom home in the Bowden Ranch development in San Luis Obispo. The couple came to Martin with a binder full of preferences and photos.
Their vision for the architecture coalesced into a look they call “Carmel cottage style.” Davar defines it as a home that “has some history to it, like it’s been here awhile.” Key to the style are a stone façade and Craftsman-inspired details. They skipped the wood roof, however, keeping in mind fire safety. Their version of Carmel cottage has a tile roof — one throwback to their Mediterranean abode.
Davar is an artist and interior designer, and her husband is an engineer. He lent his attention to detail and function, and she, her talent for color, balance and composition.
“I’ve done every fad in the book,” she said. This time, she wanted a timeless look — “traditional but pared down,” she said. “Nothing fussy.”
In the living room, for instance, the sofa has traditional pleats and welting, but a squared-off, contemporary profile. Traditional wingback chairs are slim and minimal, clad in a French fabric. The fireplace, a custom design by Davar, is sleek and elegant, sheathed in earthen-hued Cambria quartz with a black Silestone mantel.
We downsized, but we didn’t sacrifice any luxuries.
Davar added her own artful touches to the finishing details of the home. She purchased a custom zinc-top table from France, then stained unfinished chairs to match its patina. Her striking portraits line the walls of the home. And she painted a triptych mural in the dining room depicting chefs taking their dinner break in a Paris alley, which “helps to give the room a feeling of informality,” she said.
The Davars tailored their home to reflect an emphasis on ease and informality. Their elegant sofa is clad in a fabric usually used for car upholstery that Davar called “indestructible.” The floors are porcelain tile with the look of stone that she said is the “most forgiving floor material we’ve ever had — a dream to care for.”
Their previous home had a grand, formal dining room that had space to seat up to 14. This time, they opted for a more casual eating area just off the kitchen, ideal for intimate dinner parties. A window-clad breakfast nook just off the kitchen is where they eat their everyday meals.
The kitchen is less elaborate than their last, but very functional for Davar, who is an avid cook. She learned lessons from the last home — including the fact that she didn’t really need a second dishwasher. “We hardly ever used it, except for parties,” she said. The new, pared down kitchen has practical features like hardworking Thermador appliances and a wet bar. Backsplash tiles are in a range of neutrals, with shimmering gold accents. Earthen-hued Silestone countertops are easy to care for and won’t show every smudge and speck like their previous black countertops did.
Although the couple downsized, they held onto favorite pieces from their travels including ceramic olive jars from Italy, a copper coffee pot collection from Sweden, and Persian carpets. The mirror over their fireplace is from a bistro in Paris.
The new home is both comfortable and manageable for the couple, who believes they will enjoy it for many years to come. “We downsized,” said Davar, “but we didn’t sacrifice any luxuries.”
BATHROOM WISDOM Laurel Davar likes to use similar materials in all bathrooms, with only slight variations. Doing so sends a message to guests that you value them as much as you do your own family, she said.
EASY EARTH TONES Very dark or very light hued materials show more smudges, dirt and scratches than medium tones like brown, taupe or gray. This is especially true with high-traffic areas such as bathrooms, kitchens and floors.
LIGHTEN YOUR LOAD Consider locating your laundry room close to bedrooms to reduce having to haul baskets of clothing through the house. The Davars located theirs right off the master bedroom.