For Cheryl Underwood, creating fresh, inspiring spaces that bring her clients’ visions to life is at the heart of her passion for remodeling and design. The California-based designer, who founded CherHouse in Orange County, CA, is known for her sophisticated minimalism, as well as her focus on functionality, in her residential and commercial designs.

Although Underwood has always had a knack for art and design, she was inspired to make it a career when she successfully remodeled a previous residence for her now-husband, Scott Underwood, the former lead drummer of Train. With years of experience under her belt now, Underwood has flourished in the design world, coordinating various projects throughout Southern California, Nashville, New York and everywhere in between.

For one of her recent residential ventures in Corona, CA, Underwood purchased a home with plans of flipping it, but ultimately decided to make it her personal home because of the connection she felt. “When I first walked into the property, it had a cathedral-like entrance that flowed all the way through the house,” said Underwood, who then envisioned the perfect outdoor oasis to complement her vision for the home’s open floor plan.

This outdoor oasis, which features traditional and contemporary elements, begins near the entrance of the home with a three-spout fountain and small sitting area behind the front gate. Walking through the backyard, the space opens up to a large, tiled saltwater pool, a 12-foot-wide fireplace and multiple seating areas. “I wanted to give a feeling of cohesiveness, so when you walk in, the design continues all the way through to the back of the house,” said Underwood, who used 8- x 8-inch handpainted ceramic tiles from Arto Brick in Gardena, CA, on the fountain and fireplace.

The three-spout fountain from Bobé Water & Fire Features in Phoenix, AZ, incorporates around 100 tiles, while the poolside fireplace includes around 60 tiles. Arto’s “Kaleidoscope” decoration was selected — a black-and-white Moorish-inspired design. When Underwood came across the handpainted ceramic tiles from Arto, she was impressed by their intricacy. “Almost everything I do has some natural element to it, whether in the material or look,” the designer explained. “Whenever I pick something, I try to make it something you don’t see too often. I came across Arto at one of the tile shops I visited. Their tile was handmade and handpainted by local artisans, which made me want to research the company further out of interest.”

“I thought it was so beautiful,” Underwood went on to say. “The design was called ‘Kaleidoscope’ because it changes as you turn it. I loved it so much that I wanted to feature it at the home’s entrance. As people walk up, they always say how much they love it.”

The ceramic tiles are also fire-rated, which is another reason why Underwood decided to use them on the fireplace. “When designing the fireplace, I wanted it to be seen from all angles of the house,” she said. “I thought the design would be amazing with the fire lighting up the tile. Everything else is a clean palette in the background of neutrals, which makes the tile stand out as a focal point.”

Altogether, the home took around one year to complete, with a couple of months allotted for the outdoor spaces. “All of the blossoms and everything we planted are coming in nicely,” said Underwood. “When people walk into the courtyard, they say it’s like a Santa Barbara retreat. For me, when designing a home, I want it to feel like a private escape where you have everything you need and you’ll never want to leave.”

Private residence

Corona, CA

Designer: CherHouse, Orange County, CA

Tile Supplier: Arto Brick, Gardena, CA (Handpainted Ceramic Deco Tile – SD229HA, “Kaleidoscope”)

Tile Installer: Seed Landcare, Costa Mesa, CA