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Mission Accoplished

A new home in San Juan Capistrano keeps easy company with its architectural legacy

The home opens up to a large outdoor space with pops of color from vibrant blue pool tiles.

Ever since Robin and Jim McInnis moved into their custom-built home in San Juan Capistrano, their evening glass of wine is sipped to the sound of the mission church bells ringing from below.

“For the daily 6 p.m. ring, we’re out there with our wine by 5:55 in our outside pavilion,” says Robin, who enjoys cooking and entertaining friends and family. Jim works in finance. “It’s got panoramic views of Saddleback Mountain, as well as the mission.”

Keeping in cocktail hour rhythm isn’t the only thing connecting their home to the mission. The McInnises also wanted an architectural style that would echo the iconic structure, which was completed in 1776. “Santa Barbara mission style captures the historical feel of this community. And both my husband and I have always loved that style,” says Robin, who discovered the undeveloped site more than four years ago while on a run.

The couple had lived in north Scottsdale and had a condo in Dana Point. Explains Robin: “We then decided to move back here full time. We were searching for a home to completely refurbish but could not find anything, then ended up coming across this incredible lot and decided to build. It was our first time ever to build, so we were a bit reluctant but ended up having a fabulous experience.”

Today, the 3,750-square-foot, three-bedroom house hardly looks only 2 years old. The McInnises credit its timeless appeal to architect Gene Kiyotoki, who incorporated many of the hallmarks of mission architecture while integrating more modern functionality into the home. “We took inspiration from places we love in Santa Barbara and Spain. Another thing that inspired me was Diane Keaton’s book ‘California Romantica,’” says Robin. “There are some things in that book, like the fireplace in the living room, I found … and we copied it. There is an iron window on the front cover of that book; we copied that too.”

Other choices were made to meld functionality with the couple’s own modern-day needs. With frequent entertaining, the couple paid especially close attention to the kitchen design. “We wanted it to be beautiful and functional,” says Robin. “We did the big huge marble island, and then we wanted a barrel ceiling. We did it in light bricks, which ended up being so beautiful.”
When it came to creating mission-meets-modern-living interiors, the McInnises tapped Robin Strickler of Costa Mesa-based Design Works, who had worked with the McInnises on previous homes. According to Strickler, the goal was to keep the mission feeling without any of the heaviness often found in more literal translations of the style. “I wanted to keep it feeling extremely open, but never heavy,” says Strickler. “So all of the walls are light neutrals and the big furniture is similarly also in lighter tones.”

When it came to honoring the client’s request for plenty of soothing blues, Strickler opted to contain the color mostly to pillows, art and window treatments. “There is the blue tile work in the pool and outdoor areas, as well as touches throughout the house,” she says. “Overall, however, we layer textures more than color on color. Here there are lots of linens and velvets.”

For the homeowners, however, the crown jewel of the home may be the outdoor pavilion. Located on the edge of the property in prime position to take advantage of its expansive views, the room features a television, heaters, a fireplace and comfortable seating. “We spend a lot of time out there,” says Robin. “The bells ring twice a day during the week, but on Saturdays when there are weddings there, there are lots of bells. We’re right above the mission and look straight onto it. And even though they’re actually pretty loud, it’s all part of the romance of living here.”

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