In TZR’s franchise, Interior Motives, celebrities and tastemakers discuss their unique approach to home design and how it reflects their personal aesthetic. Here, we sit down with Jenni Kayne, founder of an eponymous lifestyle brand that encompasses everything from fashion to furniture, to discuss her freshly renovated Santa Ynez ranch.
According to Mother Goose, there was once a woman who lived in a shoe. Footwear may have been fine for that fictitious figure, but Jenni Kayne — a Los Angeles-based designer known for her quintessential California style — resides in the architectural equivalent of a cocoon sweater where comfort, she says, is paramount.
Tucked away in the rolling hills of Santa Ynez lies the new Jenni Kayne Ranch, a project completed in March 2022 after a two-year gut renovation during the height of the pandemic. Surrounded by 20 acres of land, the weekend refuge — inspired by architect Cliff May and his iconic California ranches — is the ultimate escape. It’s also a homecoming of sorts for Kayne, who grew up going to her godmother’s ranch in this “sleepy cowboy town.”
Santa Ynez has experienced a fairly recent awakening and is now “flooded with people” lured by the many tasting rooms, restaurants, and stores in the area, but Kayne says the community hasn’t lost an ounce of charm. “I like to call it a baby Napa,” she says. “There are vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, beautiful farms, and a lot of horses and livestock.”
Around the corner from the ranch, Kayne even keeps a rescue donkey and a mini horse that weren’t suited to LA living (her Brentwood, California menagerie includes three mini horses, two mini donkeys, and two goats), as well as a few of her retired horses who are making the most of their golden years in picturesque pastures. “Being out in nature and surrounded by animals feels really special and just makes you slow down,” she adds.
In addition to respecting and preserving the bucolic setting surrounding the ranch, Kayne was determined to “keep the integrity of the architecture” and let the landscape lead the way. “Someone could have come in, torn everything down, and started fresh by building a really big house, but to me, that's not what the land wanted,” she says. While Kayne and her team did add a little bit of square footage, the bones of the home remain. Everything else, however, had to go, including the kitchen’s tangerine floors and countertops (both ’70s relics).
In their place is a serene, sophisticated, and light-filled space wrapped in a soothing palette of white, gray, and taupe. With sweeping vistas of the Cali countryside, the kitchen now serves as Kayne’s sanctuary at the ranch. After all, cooking dinner with freshly picked produce or washing dishes while overlooking an infinity pool doesn’t feel like a chore.
Ahead, Kayne shares her secrets for scoring vintage treasures, the trick to keeping white furniture clean (the mother of three knows a thing or two!), and how to bring the Cali vibes home no matter where you live.
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What initially drew you to Santa Ynez and this home?
I love Santa Ynez and I've spent a lot of time there as a child and as an adult. I think the landscape is just so stunning and beautiful. It’s only two and a half hours outside of LA, but it feels really special. We’d been looking for a project in a specific area called Woodstock Ranch. I grew up going there and my godmother actually had a house around the corner [from the ranch]. There are 20-acre parcels with gorgeous oak trees and we stumbled across this house. It was completely rundown and needed everything, but the views were insane and the bones were great. It just felt like the perfect project.
What was your vision for the ranch?
I wanted a very beautiful, clean, and neutral California ranch. The idea was to create an open floor plan with beautiful pitched roofs and maintain a natural, clean palette in terms of color. The goal was to open everything up as much as possible so that you could look through the house and out into nature.
The original home was far from open and airy. What inspired you to take on this reno?
The house had a lot of character, but it wasn't quite right. You walked in and immediately there was a sunken living room with a fireplace. It was all carpeted. There were a lot of drop ceilings, but I knew that beyond them was a pitched, wooden roof. We took it down to the studs and really opened up the ceilings and the walls. The kitchen was a really small, dark room but it had potential to be a beautiful, open kitchen with an adjacent family room and expansive views. I feel like it was all about stripping the house down and opening it up.
What is your favorite room at the ranch?
It’s really hard to say, but if I had to choose one it would be the kitchen, which has a beautiful breakfast nook off of it. It is really functional and has gorgeous views. I love cooking and the windows over the sink open up to a little bar outside where my kids love to sit and face me while I'm cooking.
What was your inspiration for the kitchen?
I wanted to do something a little different and I was definitely inspired by Plain English after visiting the showroom in London. I wanted [the cabinets] to be a little bit more bespoke but still feel like they fit with the whole ranch vibe. I also wanted to do a darker paint color on the cabinetry but still keep the kitchen feeling really light and fresh. So, we used beautiful, white Moroccan tiles for the backsplash and added a pale stone countertop. The walls are coated with Portola Paint in Gem, which is one of my favorite colors. We used Portola’s Roman Clay finish for a plaster effect. I feel like the kitchen is both effortless and traditional. It’s also a little dark but very bright and light at the same time.
Why did you opt for open shelving in various areas of the kitchen?
In kitchens, I'm a fan of either open shelving or cabinetry that you can see through. It's really nice to see all of the beautiful ceramics that I've collected throughout the years, but it also encourages people to feel more comfortable. I always put things on the shelves that are going to be as functional as they are beautiful.
In addition to the bespoke cabinets, the stove is pretty special. Tell me about that.
I love beautiful ranges. I think La Cornue is the best of the best and because the kitchen was relatively small, we were able to put one in. It’s really the jewelry of the kitchen.
Speaking of the best of the best, Kourtney Kardashian revealed that even your sponges and scissors look nice. What are some of your kitchen essentials?
I'm a Virgo, so I think all the details matter. I love to find the best of the best and have great accessories by my sink. I keep an enamel bucket filled with an Amber Interiors’ bottle brush and natural dish soap from Koala Eco. I keep all of my drawers super organized and I like to be really thoughtful about everything that I'm using, whether it’s a paper towel holder, a hand towel, or a fruit bowl.
Are there any special pieces or mementos in the kitchen that bring you joy?
I mean, everything brings me joy! In the kitchen, there's a large, wooden dough bowl that was in my godmother’s ranch, so that is very special to me. On the banquet, there are beautiful Victoria Morris ceramics. I like putting flowers in them or just looking at them. She's a good friend and her pieces make me happy.
Aside from your own line, what are your favorite places to shop for home décor?
In addition to Jenni Kayne Home, are there pieces from other designers at the ranch?
My friend has a great online vintage curation called Galerie Provenance, so a lot of the accessories— wooden bowls, ceramics, small stools — are from her. Some of the other pieces, like the parchment dressers and the woven chairs that are in the living room, are from my various homes throughout the years that I’ve held on to and love. I would say 90% [of the furniture and décor] is Jenni Kane and 10% is sourced because I want the ranch to feel real and lived in — I didn't want it to feel like a showroom that was filled with one thing.
Your color palette includes a lot of white and cream. I’m sure a lot of people see a linen sofa or white boucle chairs and think “No way!” because they have kids or pets. Do you have any advice for creating a space that is both elegant and family friendly?
All of our sofas are slipcovered for a reason. You can remove the slipcover and take it to the dry cleaner. Nothing is too precious. I also know that everyone's family is different. My kids are pretty respectful of nice things, but they're also kids and jumping all over the place. The furniture is meant to be lived in and it’s meant to have kids jumping up and down on it.
I also buy painter’s drop cloths. You can get them on Amazon or at Home Depot. If you wash them a couple times, they get really soft. You can measure your furniture and just drape them over everything. If you have a bunch of kids over that you don’t trust, or if you're having a party, or if you have a dog that's constantly jumping on the sofa, you can do this and everything still looks beautiful. When you have an adult night, you can take them all off.
How can you infuse California style into a space no matter where you live?
I think the rules are: Nothing should be too perfect and things should feel effortless. Linen furniture, lighter woods, lightening up the walls, or bleaching out your floors always helps. Then, look outside and bring nature in whether you're in an apartment or a home. For example, I always like having fresh flowers, even if it's just olive branches, to keep things fresh.