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Classic opulence in Laguna Niguel

Renovating a Dream House

Designer Anita Borrelli created an open, airy kitchen and dining room that drink in the home's picturesque skyline panorama.

It didn’t start out as a lovefest between homeowners Dave and Genell Schlotterbeck and interior designer Anita Borrelli, now with Von Hemert Interiors, but with the completion of the couple’s dream-home renovation high in the Laguna Niguel hills, there’s no doubt this trio is probably together for life.

“We met Anita about 16 years ago. We happened to go into a retail place that Anita was working at, at the time,” Dave Schlotterbeck remembers, seated alongside his wife in the expansive living room of his family’s Tuscan-inspired home, looking out at a panoramic vista of the Pacific Ocean.

“We happened to buy something there and then we came back looking for something else and she said, ‘Well, if I could just see your home, I could help you decide.’ I said, ‘No, we don’t allow designers in our home.’ Finally, we caved in and said Anita could come look at our house,” Dave continues.

“And she’s never left!” Genell adds, prompting a group laugh.

Cut to 2016, and Borrelli has collaborated on five homes with the Schlotterbecks, culminating with her work on their recently completed 9,300-square-foot house.
Borelli had done the interior design of the Schlotterbecks’ previous home, just three miles away in Ocean Ranch. That large house had “a massive pool we hadn’t been in for three years and a massive backyard,” Genell explains.

“We gave up a huge backyard that was amazing for this view,” she sighs happily, with a gesture to the sweeping ocean panorama on display from just about every room on the first floor of this three-story mansion. Entering the high-ceilinged foyer decorated with elegant classical chandeliers, massive sculptures and brocade furniture, one’s eye is drawn immediately to the right side of the airy home.

Everything there is wide open, with a large patio, fireplace, hot tub and swimming pool catching the eye immediately, pointing out to that miles-wide sea-and-sky vista. A few more steps through the foyer is the living room, where glass doors fold back to bring in more of the outdoors; the patio sweeps around and creates a resort-like indoor-outdoor feel.
Further along that long open hallway, there’s the welcoming kitchen, with wide windows drinking in the view – one of the favorite spots in this completely renovated house. “I just love the kitchen,” Genell says. “It’s so relaxing and homey.”

That kitchen wasn’t there when the couple decided to buy this home high in the hills. “We loved the view,” Dave says. “We were considering remodeling our house in Ocean Ranch, but Genell said, ‘Why don’t we look and see what’s out there?’ So we did, but frankly, we didn’t see anything that we felt had potential, so we kept adjusting the price range (higher) and found this place. Our objective here was to really have this place feel a lot more open and a lot more elegant but not overdone.”

To that end, the Schlotterbecks literally ripped the place apart, taking 20 months to completely renovate the home. “Everything was gutted,” says Dave, who retired from a long career guiding corporations in the medical and technology industries. “We actually added 3,000 square feet, did some big structural changes on all the levels of the house.”

Those included turning much of the attic into a livable space, tearing out the kitchen, cutting into the garage (which still parks six cars) to use the space for a state-of-the-art movie theater, replacing the floors with light-toned travertine marble and adding domes to the ceilings.

“We started renovating the month that we bought it,” Dave says. In the process, they sold not only their Ocean Ranch home, but also everything in it. That allowed Borelli to completely envision every element of the new home’s interiors.

Enlisting the help of construction manager Steve Bartz of Laguna Beach’s T&S Construction, as well as Gregg Abel Design & Construction, Venetian Tile & Stone Gallery and Fred Silpa Custom Draperies, the Schlotterbecks and Borelli brought their vision to life over the course of 20 months. They completed the renovation in November, after Borelli placed the last piece of furniture in the house, which she describes as “having a casual elegance, with more warmth than just a formal home. You walk in and feel like you can sit down and use it, and yet it’s still elegant.”

While Dave insists, “We decided that this is going to be our last house,” his wife and interior designer might just have one more project in mind.

“We have a house in Arizona that Anita decorated,” Genell says, “And we bought a double lot next to the house we own. We might do a house there, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Borelli grins. “We already have blueprints for another house there.”

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