Los Angeles fashion designer turned lifestyle entrepreneur Jenni Kayne fell in love twice during her early 20s.
The first time was with her then-boyfriend, now husband, Richard Ehrlich. The second was with home renovation after Ehrlich, a real estate agent, helped Kayne find a California ranch starter home nestled in the Hollywood Hills. “I loved the process,” Kayne recalled. “It was super fun, but it was definitely a learning curve.” Since then, Kayne has refurbished and decorated four other personal properties in addition to helping friends and family with their own.
“I’ve been approached to do it for other people as a profession and that’s not really for me,” she said. “I have a very specific aesthetic and process, and I find that if you’re going to actually do it for someone as a profession, it’s a lot of hand holding and you almost become their therapist.”
Instead, Kayne found a way to pursue home design on her own terms. After launching a collection of decor, tabletops, furniture and textiles in 2017, she is taking her love a step further. She recently completed renovating a property she calls the Lake House, the first in a series of projects she will tackle with her eponymous lifestyle brand (and her 285,000 Instagram followers).
“I’m probably more passionate about interiors and about creating a beautiful home than I am about fashion,” said Kayne, who launched her company, at 19, as a clothing brand. (She still designs ready-to-wear each season and branched into kids and men’s sweaters in November.) “As I’ve grown up and my lifestyle has evolved and changed, the brand has gone with it,” she explained.
Tucked away in the woods of Lake Arrowhead, the three-level 2,678-square-foot house was discovered by her company’s chief executive, Julia Hunter, who saw great potential in it. So we asked for a tour.
“It was really untouched,” Kayne said of the four-bedroom, four-bath property, which had dated tiling and old carpeting. “It had a lot of work that needed to be done, but it was clear to me where it could go.”
Kayne and Hunter particularly liked that each room included a picturesque view of Emerald Bay.
Kayne’s family owns a vacation home in Lake Tahoe, which provided inspiration for the Lake House’s clean, crisp aesthetic. “I spend my summers in Lake Tahoe, which is an important part of my life,” she said, explaining that Hunter “wanted to re-create what I had done in Tahoe up in Arrowhead.” This translated to whitewashed ceilings and walls, organic materials and reclaimed wood floors.
“Walking into a neutral space feels timeless and calming,” Kayne said. Her California roots, she said, have informed her classic, laid-back sense of style.
Kayne said she is most proud of the master bedroom’s transformation, which went from a dark room without a bathroom or closet to a bright space with a luxurious bathroom and walk-in closet, the latter of which was created with the assistance of California Closets. Kayne kept the room’s original fireplace but gave it a refresh using Farrow & Ball’s All White No 2005.
“White paint can change anything,” she said, explaining that she brought subtle color into the house through flowers, art and furnishings such as an oak nightstand.
Other details include an immaculate kitchen with floating shelves and white Heath ceramic subway tile; a downstairs mudroom that leads to a wraparound patio; and a detached bunkhouse made of reclaimed wood. There’s also a reading nook in one of the bedrooms. Its cushions are fashioned from painter dropcloths Kayne found on Amazon. Alpaca pillows and a textured sheepskin, both from Kayne’s home collection, adorn the upholstered bench.
After five months of renovation, the Lake House was ready for market. But first, it hosted a retreat for Kayne’s team, who invited guests for a day of lakeside activities, including arts and crafts, a scavenger hunt and kayaking.
The scene that afternoon when we stopped by: A couple of women floated on black-and-white striped sunbeds. Others dipped their toes in the water. One woman decided to go for a swim.
“Are you wearing a bathing suit?” shouted another woman from the dock.
The first woman’s head peeked out from the water. “No,” she replied. “But I have one.” She held up a two-piece black swimsuit she’d slipped off.
The afternoon represented everything Kayne loves. “There’s something powerful about mountain energy,” she said, noting the importance of “getting grounded” by enjoying nature. “That lifestyle trickles down into the way I design everything.”