One is immediately struck upon entering the home of Jim and Karen Santaniello’s Eastbluff home by the sheer panoramic view of the Upper Newport Back Bay. With floor-to-ceiling glass doors and windows, the view is the main attraction.
The Santaniello home was not always the modern, architecturally valued property it now claims. Images of the house’s original interior reveal just how much revitalization was done by the couple.
“Once our last child left the ‘nest,’ we felt the need to downsize our living space,” says Karen. “Upon finding this property, we each went into our specialty modes: I explored interior designs, and, for Jim, it was the structural renovation.”
Gone are the supporting walls that once divided the kitchen, dining and living room into disjointed segments. Small windows were updated in favor of the current glass wall with the fabulous view. Karen, with her inherent design sensibilities, infused the space’s interior walls, cabinetry, flooring and kitchen space with a palette of light, clean colors and metal hardware.
The chic elegance of the Santaniello home truly reflects the owner’s talents and passions. Still thriving after 40 years as a successful real estate broker, Karen, along with son Bryce, owns her own real estate agency. Jim, of James Santaniello Construction, started out at the age of 18 in his home state of New Jersey. The couple met in California through a mutual friend. The relationship sparked; they married and combined their collective children for a total of eight family members.
The couple shares a love for classic rebuilt cars and has an enviable collection all their own. It includes Cadillacs, Ford Mustangs, and, a Karen favorite, the GMC truck she redesigned in her favorite colors. Their auto collection proves useful as well for property listing photographs and, of course, for just buzzing around town. Another attraction they share is for the mixed martial arts; in fact, they have owned a one-of-a-kind gym and training facility together for 10 years.
“We were ahead of our time when we opened,” says Karen. “Jim and I loved MMA (mixed martial arts), as did Bryce, who started training at a young age and won multiple contests.”
The collaborative, creative approach that resolves decision-making in Karen’s and Jim’s personal lives, naturally, for them, extends to their professional world. The Santaniellos come as a packaged team. Karen will sell a home, and, if the buyer requests modifications or a remodel, husband Jim steps in. A recent example is Karen’s listing on Kings Road in Newport Beach. After her client had purchased the home, he hired Jim to do a complete remodel from the ground up. The once ostentatious interior, leaning heavily on marble, dark wood and crystal chandeliers, was renovated into an open, light-filled, inviting home. By tapping into Jim’s vast knowledge and experience, Karen’s buyer transitioned seamlessly into constructing the dream home he desired, therefore avoiding frustration and time-delays of interviewing multiple contractors.
Known in the community for creating long-lasting friendships with their clients is quite a testament to Karen’s and Jim’s reputations in two industries known for high client dissatisfaction. The collaborative ease the Santaniellos enjoy personally extends to their professional lives. And, for many clients, now friends, they are grateful.