At Home With the Collopys
Posted on June 1, 2019
A few years ago, Rebecca and Jonathon Collopy found their dream home perched on a Solana Beach hilltop overlooking the sea. “I felt a strong and divinely guided pull towards this home,” recalls Rebecca, who had been looking at another house down the street. “I went up to the house and knocked on the door and was greeted by the homeowners. From the moment that I walked in the front door and looked out at the stunning ocean view, I knew that this would be the home for us.” There was just one problem: the house wasn’t for sale. s
The Collopys, the former longtime owners of We R Home, were undeterred, eventually persuading the homeowners to sell. For the next two years, the couple lived in the original house, a 1950s-era structure ordered from a Sears & Roebuck catalogue, with eight-foot ceilings, tiny windows, knotty pine kitchen cabinets, and mauve tiles. “We wanted to get a feel for how we wanted to live in the house,” Rebecca explains. “How are we going to use it? Where do we want to watch the sunsets? We wanted to understand the home’s light. Winter light is so different from summer light.”
The couple’s careful attention to the property’s spirit has led to a thoughtful transformation that shows respect for both space and place. A towering Torrey pine, for example, became a focal point of the home’s design. Interior rooms and outdoor decks afford views of the treasured tree, as well a window carved into a 44-ton concrete wall at the home’s entrance. Says Jonathon, “You feel like you’re in a treehouse.”
In keeping with the seaside setting, the house melds a coastal vibe with a modern aesthetic. The kitchen has sleek white Italian cabinetry, and the expansive waterfall-style island and counters are crafted in easy-care quartz. Floors are of distressed reclaimed wood, contrasting with simple yet sophisticated furnishings in subdued, calming shades of gray. Art, including an abstract painting by Angel Ricardo Rios, provides color and energy.
Bathroom floors are tiled in durable Italian porcelain, counters are quartz, and marble is used in wainscoting or as an accent in showers. Throughout the house, the Collopys added skylights to bring in more natural light. In a guest bath, they added a transom window, an easy thing to do, Rebecca says, to add light while maintaining privacy.
Luxe touches include Rebecca’s forte — bedding, upholstery, and draperies in beautiful fabrics — and Jonathon’s focus on architectural and exterior elements. The Collopys not only envisioned and designed the home, but mindfully selected each and every element from floor to ceiling. They also drew upon Solana Beach’s design community, businesses, and artisans that included builders Ron and Randy Rimmer of Rimmer Construction, real estate agent Liz Nederlander-Coden, Mitchell’s Floor Coverings, Aran Cucine cabinetry, European Bath Kitchen Tile & Stone, and Linda Kwasny for landscape design.
The Collopys also used more than 40 vendors from We R Home, the business they recently sold to Brian and Dianna Cruz. “They valued and respected the business that we had created and the legacy that we wanted to be carried on and expanded,” says Rebecca. “Our amazing and talented staff, as well as our custom artisans and vendors, remain the foundation and strength of the business, along with our highly valued clientele. The continuity and care of We R Home is a top priority of the new owners and that means so much to us.”
Although they will miss the daily “creative cauldron” of the company they founded 25 years ago, Rebecca has carved out a design and consulting business that will utilize the store as a design workshop and showroom. The Collopys look forward to visits with daughter Ariana, a senior licensing coordinator with Calvin Klein in New York City, more travel, and philanthropic work.
For more than ten years, Jonathon has volunteered with the Challenged Athletes Foundation (CAF), which helps those with disabilities get back in the game. Last year, CAF provide more than $4 million in grants for adaptive equipment, camps, and other programs. Jonathon, an avid cyclist, often competes in CAF’s Million Dollar Challenge, something of a misnomer because the three-to-seven day event more than doubles its goal. He is also a marathoner and Ironman Triathlon competitor.
Former family and marriage therapists, both with PhDs, the Collopys are passionate about mental health and dedicated to de-stigmatizing mental illness. They have a long commitment to Aseltine School for at-risk children with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities, where both once worked. Jonathon has been involved with the school for 36 years, and as board president, for the past ten. The couple is also working with the city of Solana Beach on the Kindness Initiative (also known as “City of Kindness”), an effort to build stronger and more compassionate communities. Founded by Anaheim Mayor Tom Tate — with support from the Dalai Lama, South African Bishop Desmond Tutu, and Lady Gaga — the movement is aimed at reducing bullying, decreasing loneliness, and increasing social and emotional well-being.
The Collopys’ philanthropy also is informed by personal tragedy. Their son, Andrew, despite his efforts to conquer an addiction to OxyContin, died of an accidental drug interaction more than eight years ago before widespread publicity about the danger of opioids. His artistic spirit and soul continue to inspire the Collopys. After his death, the couple found these words written in his journal: “Live your life and live it well.” They believe it was his message to them to embrace life and carry on. “My brother really wanted to be able to tell his story, but was never able to do so,” says Andrew’s sister Ariana. “He would have been honored to have had the opportunity to save a life by sharing his journey.”
Andrew loved to draw Torrey pines, like the one that now stretches its branches just outside their door. The Collopys believe their son somehow guided them to their home on a Solana Beach hilltop overlooking the sea. Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal