Home is where the heart is. For homeowner Kelli de la Torre, this old adage has certainly proved true. Upon inheriting her childhood home following the loss of her father, she made the decision to return to her Texas roots. This inherited home granted de la Torre the opportunity to pay homage to the past while also creating a serene space for herself and her son.
“My dad built the home in 1978 while my mom was pregnant with me,” de la Torre said. “It became my childhood home. . . I really resonate with it. It became my passion project to update it after his passing. We wanted to make it a place fo rmy son and me to thrive.”
Infusing the 1970s home with a clean, modern style was a task that seemed monumental, but when she was introduced to interior designer Hailey Kolbe from Hailey Kolbe Design, de la Torre knew instantly she found the perfect partner to bring her vision to life.
“She did a fantastic job,” de la Torre said. “We hit it off, and when people walk into my home now, they literally gasp out loud. There’s a definite vibe!”
First and foremost on de la Torre’s wish list was to honor the past in unique and special ways. “It was very important for me to honor the history of the home,” she said. “We did a gallery wall in the hallway with all black and white photos, many of which were taken in the home. My husband passed when I was pregnant with my son, so that’s where we honor him in the house, too, with lots of silly and fun photos.”
Many of the home’s features were kept but given a modern touch. For example, the living room panels received a fresh coat of white paint to lighten the dark wood. The wet bar also made the cut but was given a makeover. “We removed the dated glass shelving with the mirror backsplash and mimicked the kitchen’s open shelves,” Kolbe said.
“We also kept the shelving that was original to the home,” de la Torre said. “I use it the same way as my parents did to showcase family photos and such.”
The crown jewel of the space is a 1910 Heriz Azerbaijan vintage rug that de la Torre found. “I collect vintage rugs,” she said, “so to find one that would be fitting in the living room was awesome. We found the perfect rug and I’m in love with it. The color is unique with coral, cream, and navy. It ties everything together – it’s perfect!”
If there was one spot that could be deemed a major change, it was the kitchen. A wall was removed between the living room and kitchen to make it an open floor plan. Kolbe added open concept shelving to display de la Torre’s unique pottery collection among other items.
Of course, the kitchen also got a fresh color scheme. The strong contrast of the white and black kitchen was softened by Kolbe’s selection of Crema Marfil marble, a neutral stone with many varying shades of cream.
There are so many ways the home pays homage to de la Torre’s past, but perhaps a favorite is the photos around the home from the Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic at the Texas World Speedway, which her father was involved in starting.
“He was gifted a photo album in 1976 by the photographer who shot the show,” de la Torre said. “There were so many incredible photos, including a great shot of when Robert Earl Keen’s car caught on fire, and it spread through all the other cars.”
The renovation process took one full year of working with Kolbe to complete. “It was perfect because it was a therapeutic and rewarding process,” de la Torre said. Wrapping up the work right before quarantine began was good timing as well. “There’s not a day that goes by where I don’t think, ‘I love this space.’ All credit to her 100 percent – she has become more than a friend, like family to us. This is what she does with her clients; it’s her magic. I’m so grateful!”