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Home: A Veteran Approach

At home with psychotherapist Marjorie Morrison, founder of PsychArmor, and her family


Carmel Valley

3,200 square feet with 4 bedrooms, 4.5 baths, and an office that doubles as a guest room

Their Story

In a city that prides itself on its military presence, the Morrison family is making sure we honor our commitment to our troops. Psychotherapist Marjorie Morrison recently launched the PsychArmor Institute, a national nonprofit that offers support and free training to those who live or work with military veterans. “There are all these people that want to help but don’t know how,” says Marjorie, who authored the book The Inside Battle: Our Military Mental Health Crisis. Marjorie lives with her husband, Michael, daughter, Lindsey (18), and son, Charlie (13). The passion and compassion seen in her professional life is also apparent at home, which buzzes with the hustle and bustle of two working parents (Dad is a financial advisor at Morgan Stanley), three kids (their oldest, Jacob, is currently studying film at USC), and a dog (woof!). The Morrisons recently completed a full remodel to accommodate their busy lifestyle, which includes lots of family time and entertaining (read: poolside margaritas and Ballast Point Sculpin on tap!). They enlisted a veteran of a different type, Kristin Kostamo-McNeil of Anne Rae Design, to help them realize their vision. The result is a relaxed and functional space that’s as welcoming as the Morrisons themselves.

Poolside Paradise

Due to old piping and drainage issues, the family decided to completely redo the backyard. They added a bar, fire pit area, and stone fireplace with built-in bench seating. The pool also received a major face-lift, with new tiling and masonry. LaCantina doors along the back of the house open up to the patio, creating an indoor-outdoor feel. “Mike is a master of the barbeque,” Marjorie says. “We rarely eat formal dinners, and more frequently eat sitting around the fire pit.” Furniture by Sirio, throw pillows available at Pottery Barn.

“We searched high and low for this muted black with white veining,” Kristin says. “I didn’t want a polished black granite or marble that would look too formal. And honed black granite will hold on to every water spot. Natural soapstone has a timeworn elegance that isn’t fussy.” 

“One of the things we really love about this house is the panoramic windows. We open them up and enjoy the view.”

Kristin loved the idea of an open bookshelf. She says, “It reflects who they are and shows they actually use their kitchen.” Marjorie’s mother, Marlene Sorosky, penned more than a dozen of the cookbooks seen here. She says, “Growing up with a cook as a mother, I learned to appreciate the value of a good recipe.”

For Fork’s Sake

The Morrisons gave their designer carte blanche on the kitchen. “We know what we know and what we don’t know,” Michael says. “We stood back and let her do her job.” Their only request? A large island. “They had a much smaller island and had pushed a table up against it,” Kristin recalls. “The table was bursting with the kids’ homework and activities.” She designed the updated version to look like a piece of furniture with a wood stain that matches the flooring throughout the house. Blake lanterns by Robert Abbey serve as a focal point above. Bright white cabinetry via Nick Gonzales of San Diego Custom Cabinets “provides a neutral backdrop to that lush backyard.” The backsplash is a tumbled marble called First Snow from Daltile Tile & Stone Gallery in Kearny Mesa. “It has the look of Carrera marble, but it’s not as costly.” Fork accent above sink available at Pottery Barn.

To Tub or Not to Tub?

The new master bath went from drab and dated to modern and spa-tastic. One great debate was whether to keep the tub. “It’s the same question I face in a lot of my remodels,” Kristin explains. “I say if you don’t use it, lose it. It will provide more space and function better.” In this case, they removed the tub and added a vanity. The mirror in front of the window offers “a great layered look and allows for some pretty killer natural light.” Oversized subway tile, porcelain floor tile, and Crema Marfil marble slab countertops from Daltile, mosaic tile from Cepac Tile, Jayden sconces available at Tech Lighting.

Soft azure accents add a pop of color to the master bedroom’s mostly neutral palette, and are “a nod to the shimmering pool just outside the windows,” says Kristin. Below: The family’s toy poodle, Chester, poses on the Pottery Barn bed with its statement-making tufted headboard. John Robshaw pillows from Bixby & Ball in Solana Beach, gourd lamps available at Ballard Designs.

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