Jean Orlebeke moved into her idyllic 1953 ranch ten years ago (Part 1) and started renovations early on, which she continues today, using some unexpected resources.
She’s replaced the impermeable surfaces with linear cement and rock driveways, paths and patios, and installed extensive vegetable and herb gardens. In fact, the one day per weekend she spends gardening is what grounds her and keeps her relatively sane.
As owner of Obek Design, she’s responsible for branding, identity and pattern design. And as the creative half of Eieio Studio she creates giftware, cards and art prints—endeavors she says are wonderfully devoid of the packaging, graphic design and typography that dominates her corporate assignments. “My love of seed forms and plant forms does influence my Eieio designs; I try to do stylized and abstract foliage forms,” Orlebeke explains.
But she demurs when asked if her art education informs her home’s interior design. “I have a certain aesthetic and I feel like I’m a competent graphic designer, but I’m a terrible interior designer. I prefer linear to curvaceous, I prefer minimal to cluttered—a modern minimal aesthetic. I do have a real love of textiles and have a whole collection from everywhere I’ve ever traveled—the Caribbean, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, Mexico, India.”
A tenant had trashed the home prior to Orlebeke’s purchase, so the seller painted most things white—fortunately not the beautiful exposed redwood ceilings that define the living/dining room and the outdoor porches—and put down white carpeting as well. She’d love to replace the latter, but hasn’t yet invested the money. “You could make this house look Asian, or you could make it look ‘lodgey’; it’s long and narrow and clean.”
Orlebeke’s largest interior project was a kitchen remodel that replaced plywood cabinets with a mix of bespoke and IKEA. Custom base units were used primarily because of the unusual angles of the room, but many elements, including drawers and open shelving, were strictly standard. Another designer might opt for high-end cabinetry, but not this one.
See how Jean mixes Ikea frugality with designer masterpieces in Part 3!