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At Home with Lisette Polny

Get to know the jewelry designer and philanthropist on a visit to her simply elegant, multi-structure Encinitas property

The couple describe their Encinitas home as “a very Scandinavian, modern ranch,” clean-lined and open
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Jewelry designer Lisette Polny greets me wearing a bright smile, a flowing pink organza skirt, and black turtleneck, her feet bare on this beautiful sunny day. She shows me around the Encinitas home and guest cottage she shares with her husband, Casey Andrews, an artist, creative director, and print maker, and eight-year-old daughter Zofia Day. Padding about the house are two felines: 18-year-old Henry and Po — short for “Posey” — a rescue kitty. The one-acre property, high atop a hill, is landscaped with fruit trees, eucalyptus, agave, and a giant 100-year-old palm. Below the main house, the couple carved out space for garden cottages and art studios. “It’s a little piece of paradise,” as Ranch & Coast photographer Vincent Knakal describes the property.

I was eager to sit down with Polny, who has received widespread publicity as a jewelry designer and recently opened an atelier — what she calls her “little jewel box” — on Via de Santa Fe in Rancho Santa Fe where she meets with clients by appointment. She is also a passionate philanthropist who supports Curebound, which raises money for collaborative cancer research through its signature annual event, Padres Pedal the Cause, taking place this year on Saturday, April 9, at Petco Park. Additionally, Polny supports Promises2Kids, Feeding San Diego, The Ecology Center’s Nourishing Neighbors program benefiting the food insecure, and Present Now, which provides care packages for domestic violence shelters. She is also donating 30 percent of the proceeds from her online jewelry sales to Save the Children in war-torn Ukraine, where her jewelry maker, who is of Ukrainian descent, has family.

Lisette Polny at home in Encinitas
Lisette Polny at home in Encinitas

Over the years, Polny has received international recognition for her jewelry designs, which have been worn by celebrities including Hollywood stars and British royals. Meghan Markle was widely pictured in the media from the British tabloids to glossy magazines, including the cover of Vanity Fair, wearing Polny’s “Dash Ear Studs.” Although Polny says she is extremely grateful for her success, she is reluctant to talk about her clients, both past and present, in deference to their privacy.

Polny began designing jewelry when she couldn’t find the perfect engagement ring, so she designed her own, a striking piece centered with an uncut diamond sourced from India. The woman she hired to make the ring asked Polny to design more pieces. Eventually, Polny left her job at a fashion company, after her daughter was born, to design jewelry full time. She named the company Zofia Day after her daughter and in honor of her late Polish grandmother who was also named Zofia. (The name runs in the family — Zofia is Polny’s middle name, too.)

Polny and her husband moved to Encinitas from Los Angeles when their daughter was six months old. They had grown tired of living in a “concrete jungle” and the long commutes, along with demanding careers that meant less time with family. They were also familiar with North County. Polny’s oldest sister, Julie Zozaya, is the longtime owner of Julie’s Beach Life in Del Mar, and their parents recently moved to Rancho Santa Fe. 

“The minute I drove onto this property, I felt I would be here forever,” Polny recalls thinking after the couple found a guest house to rent on Craig’s List. “It’s tucked on a truly magnificent piece of land. You have the amazing ocean view to the west, a eucalyptus grove and natural ravine where the upper half of Cottonwood Creek lies to the north, a sycamore grove to the south, and a citrus grove to the east. You can feel the energetic vortex of all the amazing elements of nature.” The land’s historic use by local Native Americans as a route between what’s now Moonlight Beach and Olivenhain also appealed to the couple who eventually talked the owner into selling them the property.

A 100-year-old palm shades the Encinitas property
A 100-year-old palm shades the Encinitas property

A property-wide renovation was a four-year project completed in three phases: garden cottages, artist studios, and the main house, which they took down to the studs. Built in 1927, the home was a former bootleggers’ cottage. “We literally found over a thousand bottles,” says Polny. “It was wild.”

The couple, dismayed by developments in Encinitas and other communities that value quantity over quality, did not want to build a box — nor a mansion — on the site. “We do our best to be conscious in what we actually need in a home and protecting and preserving as much of the natural landscape as possible. So, we maintained exactly the same footprint,” she says. They did, however, bring the master bathroom inside the house (previously, it had been a true outhouse) and opened up the living room to the outside through sliding glass doors. 

The couple describe their home as “a very Scandinavian, modern ranch,” clean-lined and open. “We drew inspiration from Cliff May and his California ranch-style homes,” Polny explains. “We wanted a roofline to highlight a more modern shape and allow for more windows throughout the home to absorb all the beautiful, west-facing natural light.” May, who grew up in San Diego, was a prolific builder during the 1930s to1970s. Considered the father of California ranch-style houses, May designed more than a thousand low-rise homes with pitched roofs and walls of windows and doors, popularizing informal indoor-outdoor living.

The living room in the modern ranch-style home, inspired by the work of the late designer/builder Cliff May, has a high, pitched ceiling and clean-lined furnishings, and opens onto a terrace through sliding glass doors to bring the outdoors in
The living room in the modern ranch-style home, inspired by the work of the late designer/builder Cliff May, has a high, pitched ceiling and clean-lined furnishings, and opens onto a terrace through sliding glass doors to bring the outdoors in

To give the home warmth, the couple added lots of wood, including light wood flooring, and handmade kitchen cabinetry by Carlsbad’s David Taylor Development, contrasting them with charcoal-stained lower cabinets and dining chairs. Furniture, whether new or vintage, was sourced both locally and online. “I like ‘high-low,’” says Polny. “It doesn’t have to be so expensive.” The leather and wood chairs are from Lawson-Fenning in Los Angeles, and a credenza is from Brandon’s Cabinets in Ocean Beach. Other sources include Nicky Kehoe for furniture pieces and bedding. An eclectic art collection ranges from a vintage Hermès scarf framed in the entryway to a mid-century brass sculpture of a sailboat from Jera Art Gallery. The couple also displays work by Deedee Cheriel, Sara Marlowe Hall, and Jessalyn Brooks, as well as that of husband Casey, a talented artist in his own right. Their daughter’s cheerful room, with a bed piled high with stuffed animals, has a sunny loft/reading nook and a closet organized by Bianca Helm of Hestia Homes, who also helped with the kitchen and bathrooms. 

The couple used lots of wood in floors and cabinetry to add warmth. Kitchen cabinets were handmade by David Taylor Development. The Italian stove is by Bertazoni, and fixtures are from Rohl. Countertops are quartz
The couple used lots of wood in floors and cabinetry to add warmth. Kitchen cabinets were handmade by David Taylor Development. The Italian stove is by Bertazoni, and fixtures are from Rohl. Countertops are quartz

As our tour and interview wind down, Polny and I take in the sweet scent of orange blossoms in the garden where trees are bursting with fruit. “I just felt the magic here,” says Polny of the couple’s hilltop retreat, “the peaceful, easy feeling. I could see us living here forever.” zofiaday.com

Featured Photo The couple describe their Encinitas home as “a very Scandinavian, modern ranch,” clean-lined and open
Image Credits Photography by Vincent Knakal

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