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Home: Little Space, Big Style

At home with interior designer Kelly Hinchman


Cortez Hill

1,100 square feet, with two bedrooms and two baths

Her story: Interior designer Kelly Hinchman of Studio H Design Group always knew what she wanted to be when she grew up. The native San Diegan, now 33, spent her childhood stenciling gold stars on her bedroom walls and moving the furniture around. She went on to study interior design at the Design Institute of San Diego. Today her client roster ranges from residential to commercial properties, including yoga studios, clothing boutiques, and more. Her condo in Cortez Hill showcases her flair for mixing patterns and pops of color. It’s a synthesis of modern and vintage with high- and low-end pieces. “I like to blend all different styles and price points,” she says. Although small, the space packs a punch. Because she spends her days in a sea of fabric swatches and paint chips, making other people’s houses beautiful, Kelly admits that she didn’t want her own house to feel like work: “When I walk into my home, I want it to feel soothing. It’s my sanctuary.”

Parlor Room Chic

In keeping with the original 1926 architecture, Kelly opted for a traditional parlor room style in her living room. Layered rugs add texture; mixed patterns give the space a modern twist. Here, Kelly’s Pomeranian, Liz Taylor, relaxes by a pair of antique French Louis XV chairs with cabriole legs. Kelly painted the frames and recovered the seats in a blue-hued fabric by Stroheim. A vintage Art Deco vase by Lenox holds Kelly’s collection of Japanese and Chinese calligraphy brushes. (Carrera marble side table from Ocean Beach Antique Mall, wool accent rug by Safavieh, blue sisal rug available at West Elm)

The designer topped an Ikea table base with a custom terrazzo slab. She found the tolix-style galvanized-metal stools at overstock.com and spray-painted them chartreuse. Tucked in the corner, a fiddle leaf fig tree brings a little bit of the outdoors inside. (Stelton gold jug available at Barneys, cups and saucers from Anthropologie, high-back stools from Classic Home, cowhide rug available at World Market)

Kelly enjoys a morning cup of joe with Liz Taylor on her outdoor terrace. “The views are always nice,” she says of the vistas that sweep from San Diego Bay to Coronado to Balboa Park. (Rug, table, and all other items from Pigment boutique in North Park)

“I have trinkets that I love sprinkled throughout my home,” Kelly says. This bar vignette displays a piece of driftwood she found on the beach in Costa Rica. “I just tied some twine around it.” (Cat bowl by Waylande Gregory, marble cutting board by Kelly Wearstler, West Elm gold pillar lamp topped with a Hillary Thomas agate finial)

Built in 1926, the El Cortez was once the tallest building in San Diego, and counts Elvis and President Eisenhower among its former hotel guests. The building converted to condos in 2004. Kelly was inspired by its charm: “This old building has lots of extra character, and I love living in Cortez Hill. It’s a 15-minute walk to everything.”

K is for Kelly

The master bedroom is a mix of mauves and neutrals. Some of the details pay homage to another Kelly—design maven Kelly Wearstler—including her custom throw pillows and the two antique Berger chairs upholstered in Kelly Wearstler fabric by Kravet. “I’m obsessed with her,” Hinchman confesses. The art above the bed is from Blackman Cruz in Los Angeles. “It’s made from a Barneys New York window display.”  (Bed and throw over headboard from West Elm, lamps from Home Goods, ottoman with hoof legs by Noir)

Statement Piece

Kelly says, “You can make a lot of things look good if the proportions are right.” Case in point: This starburst mirror by Thomas Pheasant for Baker, which demonstrates the designer’s eye for scale. She also switches out accessories as needed. “It’s a way to not get bored. I can change up the way things are arranged and breathe new life into the space.” (Antique dresser custom-painted in European fine paints by local artist Mark Chavis)

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