When a pair of licensed leisure pilots were perusing an article found on a private airplane hangar magazine rack featuring Julie Kleiner’s elegant traditional interior design work, it was kismet. The couple had just sold their Montecito home, furnishings included, and purchased an exquisitely built shingle style home on Orcas Island that was empty. “Time was of the essence,” say the homeowners, “and we knew we needed a pro like Julie to guide us.”

“Although the architecture was picture perfect inside and out, the interior décor was too formal for this adventurous, fun-loving couple, who had arrived with just one chair, an ottoman, their Great Dane and her dog bed,” recalls Kleiner whose own heart-stopping arrival on Orcas Island was from a seaplane that dropped her onto a dock via a rope ladder.

With the home’s lack of beach feel, Kleiner suggested adding soft colors, great artwork, and comfortable furniture. The pièce de résistance, however, would be the Niermann Weeks giant palm tree chandelier presiding over a Gregorious Pineo dining room table. “We gave Julie a wide berth to be the expert she is,” says the woman homeowner, who loved the nod to their California roots.

To suit both the clients’ mechanical and nautical expertise, Kleiner chose lighting that also functions as decorative art. Fabricated metal banding on the kitchen pendants are finished with blue magnifying glass bottoms, while the custom ceramic dining room table lamps boast platinum banding.

Back-to-back living room sofas honor the homeowners’ desire to enjoy a view of the water before napping. “It’s rare to find a room that lends itself to this type of configuration,” says Kleiner, who adds that the sofas’ exacting design reflects not only the homeowners’ style, but also the heft of a 100-lb dog, who might decide to lounge on them as well.

A trip to the Blue Whale in Los Angeles enabled Kleiner and the homeowners to discover plenty of outdoor furniture suitable for making the expansive waterside deck another living space. Thanks to porch ceiling heaters, the porch is habitable ten months of the year.

Kleiner relied on DowBuilt, who constructed the home originally following architect Conard Romano’s plans, to expertly undertake not only the cosmetic changes and necessary repairs, but also prep the painting and facilitate getting the homeowner’s Hartley Botanic greenhouse situated on the patio with services to it.

“DowBuilt has a specific service team on the island with great communication from a distance via video calls and emails,” says Kleiner, “and I trust them to the hilt!” The homeowners were thrilled with them as well. “It was such a relief to be able to call on somebody who not only knew the house from top to bottom but had all the necessary contacts and resources on the island to make our updates.”

On rainy days, you might find the couple sipping coffee inside the Hartley Botanic greenhouse, enjoying the peacefulness they’ve found in their new home. “We were blown away by the spectacular setting when we first saw the property,” says the woman, “but there was a formalness we wanted to tone down. Thankfully, Julie has made the house so polished and pulled together while also being very laid back and comfortable, which fits our lives to a T!”



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