Van Galder Design makes a home in Flower Hill Promenade

Jennifer Van Galder of Del Mar’s Van Galder Design for Living operates her interior design business from one basic premise: A home can be beautiful but it must be comfortable and livable at the same time. Regardless of budget and scale, Van Galder specializes in designing warm and welcoming spaces that keep her clients’ lifestyles, personalities and needs in mind.

The longtime interior designer with a storefront in Flower Hill Promenade recently completed a fresh, high-end yet timeless design at the 12 fractional-ownership Villas at Rancho Valencia Resort.

Jennifer Van Galder
Jennifer Van Galder (Sam Wells)

Van Galder had been in La Jolla for 23 years with Maudlin, a boutique design firm and showroom she owned with her sister, specializing in antiques and upholstery, representing Cowtan & Tout fabrics. She branched out on her own with Van Galder Design for Living and has been in Flower Hill for three years. She moved upstairs to her current storefront last April.

In the fun “bowling alley”-type space, she was able to utilize the wood floor of the former Pangea store, add light fixtures and fill the showroom with furniture topped with pillows and unconventional accents and her shelves are stocked with elegant and cozy fabrics for her custom upholstery and window treatments.

Van Galder’s talents with fabric are often called upon by other local designers for upholstery projects.

While interior design is where the bulk of her business comes from, Van Galder loves having a brick and mortar shop with a retail presence.

“It’s really fun because you never know who’s going to pop in and what kind of conversation you’ll have,” Van Galder said. “The retail side is a real, raw way to deal with the public.”

Van Galder’s look is one of worldliness, a blend of eclectic aesthetics and a lifetime of design starting in her mother’s studio when she was a girl. It’s a “collected, curated” look, a mix of textures and eras, little details with big impacts, “clean, edited and simplified” window treatments and upholstery done with high-quality fabrics.

“I like to intermix and play,” Van Galder said.

In her line of work, she has dealt with clients of all kinds at various stages in their lives, looking to make their house a home. She has helped a homeowner start fresh after a devastating fire, helped combine the homes of 80- and 90-year-old newlyweds and designed spaces for newly-single parents. She is always mindful of who the client is — the client has obviously bought into her look and aesthetic but it’s still up to her to apply her years of experience to their needs and how they live.

“At the end of the day, I walk away. What was my project becomes their home,” Van Galder said.

A Van Galder-design in Rancho Santa Fe.
A Van Galder-design in Rancho Santa Fe. (Sam Wells)

The Rancho Valencia redesign was a huge project in a unique way. It was grand in scale with 12 homes and unique in that it was overseen by several decision-makers within the Homeowners Association as well as with the Jacobs family, who owns the resort.

It was also unique in that she had three and half months to overhaul the villas, as homeowners have promised time and the full property had to be shut down in order to complete the renovations.

“It was the largest project in the shortest timeline I’ve ever done,” said Van Galder.

Each home was three bedrooms and three-and-a-half baths, with full kitchen, living room and courtyard with spa. Some units were upstairs and some downstairs and none had been updated in eight years.

Van Galder had preciously designed the cabanas and bar area for Rein, the resort’s poolside bar but spent almost two years competing against other designers to earn the project, completing an extensive request for proposal and interview process.

She started with one model house to get approval and then completed the other 11 last spring. She was tasked to modernize the hacienda feel of the units which she achieved by swapping the Saltillo Mexican tiles for French limestone pavers and wood flooring, and bringing in fresh, updated cabinetry, furnishings and colors — every unit had its own “funky nuances” to make them slightly different from one another.

As with all of her projects, it was slightly bittersweet to hand over the keys and walk away after all the work she had put in.

In her line of work, Van Galder is always working to stay on top of the trends and will soon travel to Europe to scope the latest in London and Paris from her Europe vendors. Whereas in the past years it has been all about the light fixtures, the influence of English cabinetry and hardware are a big tastemaker right now, she says.

A Van Galder Design kitchen in Rancho Santa Fe
A Van Galder Design kitchen in Rancho Santa Fe (Sam Wells)

Van Galder said she is also seeing design trend more toward the way people actually live. She said no one wants to be spoon-fed their aesthetic from one store or a catalog — no one wants to live in a showroom, they want to see their individuality shine through.

“You want to see yourself in your own home,” Van Galder said.

For more information visit Van Galder Design on Facebook or call (858) 344-1965. The storefront is located at Flower Hill Promenade, 2670 Via de la Valle, suite A-225.