At Home With Katherine & Dane Chapin
“I just want you to know this house is not for the meek,” a real estate agent warned Katherine and Dane Chapin when they first laid eyes on their La Costa home. It was something of an understatement. The 1960s-style house with “smoked mirrors and gold swans coming out of the sink” was badly neglected. Patio furniture was in the bottom of the pool, windows were broken, beer cans and cigarette butts littered the property. “It was the biggest wreck we’d ever seen,” Katherine recalls. The couple made a quick decision.
“So what do you think?” Dane asked Katherine.
“I love it!” she replied.
That was 11 years ago. Since then, the Chapins, successful entrepreneurs and philanthropists (she is Chairman of the Board of the La Jolla Music Society) have turned their home, overlooking La Costa’s Legends course, into a sophisticated showplace filled with art. “I loved the idea of a project, a challenge,” Katherine reflects on their decision to buy the onetime “wreck.”
All the rooms wrap around a center courtyard, opening onto a pool with golf course views. The living room has grey linen couches and abstract print chairs, accented with fuchsia and magenta throw pillows. In the corner is a baby grand piano. Katherine, who played as a child, has recently taken up lessons again.
The dining room, with its antique Chinese sideboard, is hung with “Card Trick & Table Twelve,” a painting by Sandra Jones Campbell that inspired a poster for the 2002 Pageant of the Masters. It also has a square dining table, which “makes for wonderful dinner parties,” says Katherine. “Everyone can hear each other talk so it adds congeniality, friendship and fun.” While Dane mans the grill, Katherine loves to cook Greek food from recipes handed down by her late grandmother. (The Chapins offered us baklava and kourabiedes, a butter cookie drenched in powdered sugar upon our arrival.) While the couple likes to dine out at such local places as Sake House Yu Me Ya, a Japanese tapas bar in Leucadia, and Maurizio’s Trattoria Italiana in Encinitas, Dane confesses, “Our passion is having dinners at home, just the two of us.”
The couple’s business and philanthropic ventures make for full, active lives. Dane is co-CEO (with partner Brad Termini), of Zephyr Partners, a real estate development and investment company whose projects range from Level 15, affordable townhomes in Escondido, to The Park, a luxury high-rise community taking shape in Bankers Hill. He also founded USAopoly, a toy and game company that creates twists on the iconic Monopoly game and other Hasbro brands. (Think “A Christmas Story” Monopoly or Trivial Pursuit “World of Warcraft.”) The company makes its own games as well, including Telestrations, Tapple and Ratuki, among others.
Katherine, who has held executive positions with the Limited and General Mills, also helped re-position Mattel’s popular Barbie brand “from a stereotype of pink, ruffles, and glitter to hip, fashionable, and stylish” girls’ apparel, accessories and home furnishings. She is now managing partner at Health Savings Associates, a family-owned company offering insurance services that has twice won the Better Business Bureau’s Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics.
A former professional dancer in New York, Europe, and the Far East, Katherine is especially involved with arts and culture. At the La Jolla Music Society, she is helping to oversee the building of the $65 million Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center (known as “The Conrad”) on Fay Avenue in La Jolla, set to open in 2018. She also serves on the board of the San Diego Youth Symphony, and next year will chair (for the second time) “Encore,” the organization’s annual gala in Balboa Park to raise money for scholarships.
“My vision is to make San Diego as well known for its arts and culture as its craft beer,” she says. “I see leveraging talent in all these (arts) organizations to achieve something really wonderful, creating a cohesive vision for a cultural destination.”
Dane, who has served on several boards, is committed to veterans’ causes. He and Zephyr Partners are taking the lead in efforts to rebuild American Legion Post 416 in Encinitas. He wants to honor his late father, who served in the Army and later spent his life helping injured veterans, as well as Katherine’s father, a university professor who fought in World War II’s Battle of the Bulge.
Besides the arts, the athletic Chapins enjoy hiking, biking, and skiing. Dane (who played tennis competitively at UCLA) is now a scratch golfer. The couple likes the livability of La Costa life, with amenities just a golf cart ride away.
La Costa is also where they began their lives together after meeting at the international toy fair convention in New York City. She was looking to pitch Dane’s partner. Says Dane:
“I pitched her on me instead.” Two months later, Dane, a romantic as well as a wordsmith, penned a poem for her upcoming birthday. “I think that sealed the deal for me,” says Katherine. It also became a tradition. Dane has since written more than two dozen poems to mark her birthdays and their anniversaries, including “Ten,” a bound book of his poems to celebrate the couple’s tenth anniversary last year. “I always say that it took me a long time to find Mr. Right,” Katherine says. “Instead, I found Mr. Perfect.” ANDREA NAVERSEN
Photography by Vincent Knakal