Interior designer updates original 1950s home in Santa Barbara
Since she was 8 years old and growing up on the northwest Florida coast, Jessica Risko Smith has had a passion for re-imagining spaces.
Every month, she’d rearrange her own bedroom furniture, always experimenting with how to make a new world out of a 10-by-12 foot space.
Now, as founder of JRS Interior Design in Santa Barbara, she helps clients create their own new worlds with unique, stylish and ultra-livable designs that elevate their everyday lifestyle.
Among her recent projects is a local four-bedroom, four-bathroom renovation of a home, which features high-end lighting, Calacatta Gold marble slabs, sandstone fireplaces, chic wallcoverings, luxurious textiles, handpicked decor and accessories.
“Before the renovation, the original 1950s home was in need of complete system updates and architectural reinforcement. The project was a full gut renovation with a small addition to create additional pantry space off the kitchen and a fourth bedroom, which adds an interior courtyard feel at the back of the house,” said Ms. Risko Smith.
“Because the neighborhood typically embraces more traditional architecture, my team and I wanted to bring in classic elements like Santa Barbara sandstone to anchor the clean, modern forms and materials. The design team was particularly interested in connecting the interior materials to the exterior for a seamless indoor-outdoor transition.
“The lighting selection was pertinent to unlocking the rest of the furnishings and details. The fixtures are all unique and play really nicely together, each one visually interesting but not overpowering.
“My goal for the design was to create something artistic, interesting and fresh and cohesive, and I added color in a very mindful, measured way,” said Ms. Risko Smith.
The client’s daughter’s pottery is showcased throughout the home as décor touches, and selected handmade pottery from a local Ojai potter, Emily Brown of Emily Brown Ceramics, complements the owner’s traditional wedding china.
“Through furnishings, lighting and art, we allowed the client’s personality to shine through and personalize the space while remaining cozy and uncomplicated,” said the designer.
“I picked unique materials throughout the decoration including Calacatta Gold marble slabs, which became the perfect counterpoint to the sandstone fireplace, and created a negative space backdrop to incorporate a hood and storage along the range.
“We also added personalization and tied the design together through whimsical wallcoverings, sophisticated textiles and curated decor and accessories.”
Brands featured in the project include Matthew Fairbank Design, Bernhardt, Mehraban, Visual Comfort and Schumacher.
Before launching her firm in Santa Barbara, Ms. Risko Smith earned her degree in interior design from Auburn University and had a long career at Gensler, a worldwide corporate design firm, where she worked with Fortune 500 companies on legal, finance, retail and entertainment interior projects.
She is a LEED Accredited Professional and a longtime ASID Professional Member. Her travels to New York, Chicago, Mexico and Europe continue to influence her designs and vision for unique styles, trends and products for residential and commercial interiors.
The JRS ID studio is located in a historic Santa Barbara garden courtyard, where her team is often found meeting with clients and vendors. Otherwise, Ms. Risko Smith spends time with her two children and refueling at Handlebar Coffee, oftentimes sketching more new world design concepts.
“I love that this home feels connected with the outdoors as that was one of our main goals throughout the design process. The homeowners initially had a much more traditional style but were eager to try something new and move away from a catalog feel,” she said.
“We wanted their personalities to shine through in the design and push them slightly out of their comfort zone. We took a more modern approach to the design, gave the space some edge, and everyone was happy with the end result.
“The home is truly breathtaking and reflects a timeless and refreshing take on the classic Santa Barbara home.”