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San Diego Design Series: Exploring Downtown San Diego

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The Gaslamp District: San Diego, CA

For our last blog post of the series we take you back to the heart of downtown San Diego. Downtown San Diego is the hustle and bustle of the city that attracts locals, professionals, and tourists alike. Like any city, Downtown San Diego is the hub of entertainment and activity with a plethora of business offices, a countless amount of restaurants, a vast number of elegant hotels, and attractions with many cultural influences. Places like the San Diego Zoo, the Padres Stadium, and Seaport Village attract people from all over to Downtown San Diego, but once they get there the opportunities are endless.

Pacifica_HI-res-1

J Hill Interiors, Warm Contemporary

Development of downtown started way back in 1867 by Alonzo Horton; however, today it is still full of the rich history and architecture that dates back to its early establishment. A mix of both modern and historic buildings line the streets of the Gaslamp District. This blend of old and new is a common design style within the downtown area as young professional move into the older buildings of this area, they are drawn in by the vintage style, while still incorporating modern touches. One of the most popular attractions of downtown San Diego, Gaslamp, has a profound number of award winning restaurants and live music venues such as The Shout House, The House of Blues, and country bar Moonshine Flats. The vibrant and sophisticated nightlife of downtown San Diego offers an adult playground with its many sizzling clubs and impressive rooftop bars. Residences and businesses alike draw on endless design styles ranging from traditional, contemporary, urban, vintage, and modern.  

Ironically placed on India street, Little Italy is a quaint corner of downtown that will make you feel as if you’ve walked right onto the cobblestone streets of Italy. From fine Italian dining to pizza by the slice, Little Italy is a common night on the town or date night hot spot for San Diego locals. In addition to its many authentic Italian restaurants, Little Italy is the home to a hand full of refined art and design galleries that showcase furniture designers and artists from here in San Diego as well as international. The rich culture has found its way into the design preferences for the restaurants as well as residences of this area that captures the ambiance of the community. Whether you are dining alfresco in an Italian café or admiring the fine arts, Little Italy is nothing short of a cultural wonder. Truly Bellissimo.

A little further outside the business district of San Diego’s Downtown, is the community of North Park. North Park has undergone a number of changes over the past few years and is well on its way to becoming a new “it” scene. It has a very hip and trendy dynamic with many boutiques-like stores and coffee shops that are full of personality.  Its nightlife attracts a different crowd than that of deep downtown San Diego in that it gives forth a relaxed and “kick-back” bar atmosphere. North pack encompasses a special blend of an urban community and a quaint town that gives it a feel unlike any community of San Diego.

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Old Town: San Diego, CA

A bit more north, you will find the historic and iconic community of Old Town. One of the original establishments of San Diego, Old Town was once a humble pueblo inhabited by early settlers. Today it feels as if there is little difference between the early days of Old Town when compared to that of its current dynamic. Nearly every restaurant, shop, church and home still is so strongly influenced by the traditional Mexican design that it is impossible to confuse it with any other area of San Diego. Everything from the orange clay tile roofing to the décor that makes the streets look a 24/7 fiesta, it reflects the traditional styles of a Mexican town that has helped made Old Town so iconic.

The list of activities to do and sights to see along the streets of downtown are truly endless, as are the design styles of the area. From the urban and modern styled apartments inhabited by the young professionals in the heart of the Gaslamp district to the Mexican influences along the streets of Old Town. We hope you have enjoyed this trip around San Diego with us! As a design firm here, we feel so fortunate to be able to draw on the many different styles and influences that the San Diego communities have to offer. We look forward to what the future holds as we take on projects in the beautiful, sunny San Diego.

San Diego Design Series: A Peek into La Jolla

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La Jolla Cove San Diego California

La Jolla Cove

As we continue our depiction of the San Diego interior design styles, we venture to the northern coastal city of La Jolla.  La Jolla resides along some of the most dramatic coastlines of the San Diego area with a very dynamic landscape full of hills and great views. With the varying landscape, there are many unique outdoor locations to explore including Mt. Soledad, which provides over six miles of paths used for hiking and trail running. Visitors and locals alike often take to the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve to experience the hiking trails that showcase spectacular views as they make their way down to the beach front. Tucked away between the cliffs is the hidden treasure known as La Jolla Cove. Down towards the waterfront, the area is populated by snorkelers, swimming, and beach goers as they gaze up the  sea-lion population who are often seen in this area.

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St James Church, La Jolla

Considering the prime location and gorgeous views, La Jolla is among the more exclusive and high-end communities of San Diego. The limited and in-demand real estate gives the community an elite feel. It is common for homes to be custom-built and very unique to fit the preference of individual homeowners. The styles for La Jolla homes range across the board as they draw on different aspects of La Jolla’s rich history and architectural influences. The 1920s gave way to the Spanish Colonial influence in La Jolla’s architectural design, which is encompassed in many homes today as well as the William Templeton Johnson’s Library and numerous Spanish-style churches. Many La Jolla residences are also influenced by the trend of Mid-century Modernism that became popular around the 1950s. According to La Jolla’s official history site, a large number of famous architects, including Robert E. Alexander, Russell Forester, Albert Frey, Frank L. Hope to name a few, had a hand in implementing this style deep into La Jolla’s design.

To see more about La Jolla’s history, click here 

La plaza la jolla california

La Plaza, La Jolla Shopping Center

Today La Plaza, a shopping center located in the heart of La Jolla Village, captures the essence of  Spanish style with its traditional white cement walls paired with  intricate tile work and pottery. The community as a whole has in many ways become a must see spot for tourist. La Jolla has an abundance of top-notch eateries, distinguished art galleries, and shopping venue that offers something for everyone. Increasing its appeal, La Jolla has become known for its award winning architectural firms for both residential and commercial designs. The world-famous Salk Institute was deemed “one of the globe’s boldest structures since its creation in the 1960.” This bold and modern design is often reflected in numerous La Jolla residences to reflect a personal style.

Salk Institute modern design

Salk Institute, La Jolla

These varying  design styles that can be found almost anywhere in the beautiful city of La Jolla , as well as the lifestyle the vast coastline offers, have had a large influence on the community. From Modern to Victorian,  Spanish to Contemporary, a little bit of everything can be found among the coastal homes of La Jolla.

San Diego Design Series: Exploring Rancho Santa Fe

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Rancho Santa Fe French-Spanish Decorating 1Rancho Santa Fe is a more remote, yet high-end, real estate area of San Diego. It draws in those looking for large estates with generous proportions of land that allows the many common interest of Rancho Santa Fe residents, such as private vineyards and horse rings. Rancho Santa Fe is home of many spas, golf clubs, and restaurants that bring the community together while embodying the relaxed lifestyle of residents.

Rancho_Santa_Fe_French_Spanish_Decor_DetailA large number of the Rancho Santa Fe residences reflect a strong Spanish-style. The implementation of this design style can be greatly accredited to Lillian Rice. Impressively, Rice was the first woman to earn a degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley in 1910, which she utilized as she moved back into her home in the San Diego area. In the midst of her career, she was asked to help develop a new community, which would later become the Rancho Santa Fe we know today. Rice was directly involved in many early Rancho Santa landmarks such as La Morada (the Inn), the Civic Center, and Paseo Delicias. Drawing from the ideals of Spanish Colonial Design, Rice set out to develop a community that embodies the charisma and charm of a Spanish village. According to historian, Lauren Farber, Lillian Rice also established “a standard Beaux-Arts and City Beautiful planning device which utilized landscaping, plazas, and parks to create a strongly-defined civic image.”

The InnClearly, Lillian Rice had intended to preserve the Spanish influence in Rancho Santa Fe. It is evident that she succeeded as the unique architecture and design remains in harmony with the design preferences of today. Now, Rancho Santa Fe is an inviting place, often populated with families and out-of-state visitors looking for a second home. Quite often the influence of the Spanish and Mexican  history can be found throughout the home, whether it be the use of talavera tile, Spanish quatrefoil shapes or hacienda plaster and rustic beams, etc.

J Hill Interiors is proud to have provided interior design services in this area. The uncommon and individual dynamics of the Rancho Santa Fe area has allowed us to expand our creativity to capture the essence of the community. Here are some picture of our past projects!

J Hill Interior Design - Via de Fortuna Casita

J Hill Interiors, Rancho Santa Fe Renovation

J Hill Interiors, Rancho Santa Fe Renovation

J Hill Interior Design - Via de Fortuna Casita

J Hill Interiors, Rancho Santa Fe Renovation

San Diego Design Series: Venturing Through North County

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As the name suggest, North County is a collection of towns and communities at the north most part of San Diego. North County, in many ways, has been the hidden gem of San Diego real estate within the last 10 years. As the development of this area has increased, the already rare coastline real estate supply has become even more limited and further increased the demand. Overall, North County has a very relaxed and laid-back atmosphere that acts as both a surfer’s paradise and a place for young professionals to settle down with their families. The youthful vibe from the emerging community gives North County a refreshing and unique essence.

Del Mar Race Track

Del Mar Racetrack

North County has much to offer with a variety of venues and activities across its many communities. Along with its many restaurants and shops, Del Mar has a strong presence in equestrian sporting. It comes with little surprise that Del Mar is therefore most know for the Del Mar Race Track that has attracted competitors and spectators to take part in the excitement of horse racing since it was built by the Thoroughbred Club in 1937.  Similarly, Del Mar attracts people from all across southern California to the annual Del Mar Fair that has become a tradition of family fun for many to enjoy.  

North County Dinning Room Decor

J Hill Interiors: North County Renovation

Cardiff, Encinitas, and Leucadia all add to the equation of the North County’s appeal with their restaurants, shops, and bars that attract the many young professionals that reside within the community. The city of Carlsbad has more of a suburban dynamic, which is a little less expensive and appeals more to families. Keeping up the North County lifestyle, Carlsbad has a quaint downtown with lots of character full of boutiques, eateries, and bars.

Transitional Dining Room

J Hill Interiors: American Transitional, Encinitas


An overlying theme of North County is its impeccable appeal for surfers and beach goers. This is especially true for the quaint beach town of Solana Beach. Along with its gorgeous beaches, Solana Beach is home of the Credos Design Center for both the public and designers. The Cedros Design Center is a town treasure that creates an exciting experience for shopping by offering styles across the board. From ultra-modern to antique, the Design Center offers something to satisfy everyone’s personal style and preference.

California Mission, Spanish Architecture

San Luis Rey California Mission

With all of these different aspects impacting the community, it is of little surprise that their residential design preferences follow suit. North County is among the communities of San Diego that act as the premier place for custom built homes.  Personal style has a huge impact on the homes of North County that gives the area  a nice variety. On one street you might see a blend of a dozen different styles, such as Craftsman, Tuscan, Spanish, and Super Modern. Many of these preferences may be a reflection of the landmarks and architecture used throughout North County. For example, the California Mission, San Luis Rey captures the historic Spanish and Mexican style of early settlers of North County, which is still very much alive today. The Oceanside Pier has also become a well known hot spot. So much so that, the beach life has found its way into many homes in both design and decor. The young community of North County brings about many modern design preferences as well as a blend of many other styles that come from influences all over the county.

Encinitas Contemporary Livingroom Decor

J Hill Interiors: Encinitas Contemporary Renovation

Overall, North County has a countless number of things to do for beach-side locals and adventuring tourists. The urban, yet beach dynamic creates an experience on can only find in the communities of North County. Take a stroll down the residential communities along the coast for some serious home design inspiration. Also, take a look at some J Hill project in North County that we have completed. You can also see these projects here: 

Child’s Room | North County 

Causal Contemporary | North County 

Bold Contemporary | Encinitas

American Transitional | Encinitas