Jessica Kraus, San Clemente, California
Words by Serafina LoGiacco
Images by Elizabeth Cara
Jessica Kraus and her husband, Mike are in the midst of renovating their dreamy 1960s San Clemente ranch home. Just a mile from the ocean, the couple's home exudes coastal ease. Amidst the high energy of raising four young boys and self-renovating their home, Jessica tells us how she moves through a non-routine life and how she created a space for connection through motherhood's vulnerable moments.
What can you tell us about your home?
It's a 1960's ranch house in San Clemente, California. We bought it last year knowing it needed lots of work, but it was one of the only houses we could afford in the area and we were desperate to settle our family here. It was a pretty nondescript property to begin with but we saw potential in renovating. And, it had really great natural lighting. You and your husband Mike are completely renovating your space. Can you tell us more about this process?
It's much more trying than I imagined. We were sort of naive in the beginning. As we went on the plans grew more and more involved and before we knew it, we were gutting the entire house to switch up the main layout. Living through it with four kids tested me in ways I never expected. Mostly because of how hard things get when order is gone and you are living in various forms of disarray. Boy's sleeping in different spaces every night. And basic things like water and electricity wavering week to week. Most of this past year felt a lot like camping. "Roughing" it with one semi working bathroom and a single closet for 6 people over the past 10 months. Along with countless other little inconveniences that arose as the process evolved. But it's also been fun and exciting to see the work paying off and our vision coming to life in creating a little sanctuary by the beach. What has been your main source of inspiration when planning the interiors?
My main inspiration for the renovation are the houses in Hydra Greece. I love how they lean on all white interiors with rustic wood accents, imperfect plaster and white beamed ceilings. I love the simplicity and old world charm they embrace so beautifully in their beach homes over there. I've been long obsessed with Leonard Cohen's house in Hydra, so I kept coming back to those images when making certain design choices, hoping to secure a small part of that charm.
My main inspiration for the renovation are the houses in Hydra Greece. I love how they lean on all white interiors with rustic wood accents, imperfect plaster and white beamed ceilings.
What is your favourite part about living in San Clemente?
I love that it still has a small town, rugged surf vibe. The local longboard community has become a big part of my boys' lives and we love that they feel a part of something so special, and are out in the water as much as possible. Living by the sea feels invigorating in so many ways. Almost like it becomes part of your DNA. Which I love. Do you have a favorite object in your home, one that holds extra significance?
The plaster handprints my boys made in Kindergarten. And all my chairs. I'm a chair girl forever.
How did you find calm during those extra chaotic days?
The beach. Laying outstretched on the sun when the stress of renovation gets to be too much. It's been my one saving graces through this whole process.
What's the most surprising thing about raising four boys?
How much they seek, crave and feed off risk, in any shape or form. Except of course for my second son, Leon. He avoids it all at cost. Caution is his middle name. The other three though, they're constantly throwing themselves off rocks or scaling hillsides and launching off makeshift skate ramps and all kinds of other wild and worrisome things. Can you tell us a bit about your work with The Ma Books?
I started it while I was pregnant with my fourth boy, because I felt like the internet was lacking a raw and honest take on motherhood. I wanted to carve out a space where joy, love and gratitude could mingle alongside darker, more vulnerable sentiments we all share as mothers but sometimes shy away from admitting and exposing. What it uncovered is a series of exceptional woman writers who came forward to share their work on the site regularly and their pieces are some of the most beautiful things I've ever read. It's what I am most proud of as far as social media constructs is concerned. Creating that space to house such a beautiful, relatable vision.
In your opinion, what's something that you feel is underrated and on the flipside, overrated?
I suppose I'd say big houses in general feel overrated. Modern day families seem convinced they need a certain amount of square footage to suit their needs. But I don't buy it. I think flow and comfort is more important. And that can come with any size house. As for underrated - maybe outdoor showers. If you live where it's warm, I think it's crazy to not have one.
I'd say big houses in general feel overrated. Modern day families seem convinced they need a certain amount of square footage to suit their needs. But I don't buy it. I think flow and comfort is more important.
What's your go to easy and comforting meal after a busy day?
I like simple, one pan meals. Baked salmon and slightly charred veggies are my weekly go-to.
Can you describe your ideal morning?
I like coffee alone, before the house is awake if I can manage it. Music or a news station on while I make myself an egg and then a little time to write or prepare for the day ahead. How do you ease into the evening? Do you have any night time rituals?
Honestly our household has been a little too chaotic since the renovation to hold tight to routine, but we are finally getting to a point where ritual can take shape again. For us that means squeezing in a trip to the beach after school and before homework, then dinner, baths and a story before bed.
How do you connect back to yourself? What's your non-negotiable?
Hot baths. Anyone who knows me knows I live for my baths. One day - hopefully soon - I'll have a working one here to soak and relax in again. Because I am a miserable person when I'm not warm. Last thing you read, listened and watched that inspired you?
Read, Walt Whitman's poem the Child Went Forth; listened, a young Post Malone giving young Bob Dylan a run for his money with his version of Don't Think Twice it's Alright; watched, the documentary Finding Vivian Maier.
What's on the horizon for you?
I'm not one to fret too much on future expectations, but I'm looking to pour more time and effort into simple things like cooking in a newly completed kitchen, enjoying the beach with my boys, writing more, running, and maybe publishing something sometime soon because it's always been a fun grown up dream of mine and the timing finally feels right.