At Home With Shay & Jason Hughes
Posted January 1, 2013
Turn off a winding road in Rancho Santa Fe and you’ll come upon Rose Hill House, a four-acre estate, which, as its names suggests, is planted with hundreds upon hundreds of roses, Shay Hughes’ favorite flower. Inside the elegant but comfortable farmhouse-style home, roses are everywhere, from pitchers bursting with blooms on the kitchen counter, to the delicate patterns painted on vintage china in the dining room. The flower is a fitting metaphor for the Hughes family, for whom everything’s coming up roses, both literally and figuratively.
At just 45, Jason Hughes heads up Hughes Marino, the successful commercial real estate company in San Diego that he formed with David Marino, representing tenants-only in leasing and building purchases. Often recognized as a top executive, he’s also used his business savvy to help local nonprofits. When Jason was in his 30s, he led fundraising efforts that ultimately saved the New Children’s Museum in downtown San Diego. Shay, after raising their three children, two of whom graduated from college early and now work in the family business, has a second career as the company’s chief operating officer, spearheading renovation of the firm’s headquarters at Front and Beech streets downtown (among other projects). She calls it “home away from home,” not because of the hours they spend there but because of the family-like culture they’re trying to create. While she has no formal training in design, Shay has had plenty of experience, and a practiced eye that has turned both their headquarters and home into showplaces.
Fourteen years ago, the Hugheses swapped their newly remodeled farmhouse (down to the dishes in the kitchen cupboards) for the much larger property in Rancho Santa Fe, which includes a pool, tennis courts, stables, and arena. While the house had “good bones,” it needed major work. The Hugheses quickly set about making it their own: re-plastering and painting, stripping dark oak floors, and adding French doors to let in light.
Their favorite spot is the family room, where the slip-covered couches by Rachel Ashwell, famous for her “shabby chic” style, are extra deep for lounging. The flower print pillows are from Cath Kidston in London, where the Hugheses also bought the carpet at Harrods. An old farmhouse table, cut down to coffee-table size, bears scratches from years of board games, and bricks for the fireplace were salvaged from a construction site. There’s also a baby grand piano, a custom bookcase filled with family photographs, and (of course) paintings of roses, from small oils to large graphics.
A sign that reads “Fresh Flowers” hangs over the peninsula separating the family room from the open kitchen, with its long breakfast counter and hand-painted stools. Shay painted the dark oak cabinets white and hung crystal chandeliers over the white marble island with its built-in La Cornue stove. Her collection of cake pedestals top the kitchen counters.
In the dining room, the family gathers around an English farm table from the 1800s, purchased at Yorkshire Pine in Rose Canyon, a rustic counterpoint to the antique French armoire hand-carved with rose garlands and bows, a mirror and chandelier, and rose-painted Haviland Limoges. “I really like the girly stuff,” says Shay with a smile.
Jason not only promised Shay a rose garden – he grew it, commandeering a tractor to re-landscape the property. In the expansive backyard, he built every kid’s dream: a shingled tree house nestled in the spreading branches of a Chinese pistachio tree more than a century old, as well as a playhouse complete with its own picket fence. Off the patio, there’s a guesthouse with a bedroom and loft, barbecue, and outdoor fireplace where the family settles into wicker chairs to relax and roast marshmallows.
Hard to believe that life hasn’t always been a bed of roses for the Hughes. One of six children, Jason worked his way through college. Married right after graduation, the couple soon became pregnant, and their early years together were a struggle financially. They have worked hard for their success, instilling that ethic in their children, but emphasizing that what’s truly important, both at home and at work, are family and friends. “You like what money can buy,” says Hughes, “but you love what money can’t.”
Over the years, the Hugheses have taken great joy in watching their family, as well as their business, grow. A close-knit family, they love to spend time together, whether gathering around the dinner table or traveling around the world. And, yes, they even stop to smell the roses. Andrea Naversen