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The Daniels Family Takes Us On a Tour of Their Lake San Marcos Home

How the real estate power couple helped make the North County community cool

By AnnaMaria Stephens | Photos by Tomoko Matsubayashi

May Home - main

Simply White by Benjamin Moore is homeowner and designer Erin Daniels’ go-to for the exterior paint. “It’s not too bright, not too creamy, not too traditional. I usually do the trim the same color but will accent it with copper gutters. I love mixing metal in there”

Seven years ago, when Erin and Jason Daniels moved their young family to the resort-like Lake San Marcos—a community originally built for retirees—it felt like a bold gamble. Now their North County neighborhood couldn’t be more coveted by a new generation of young homeowners attracted to the area’s many amenities. The real-estate power couple, whose boutique Daniels Home Collective also provides design services, deserves a lot of the credit for making it cool.

“We were looking for an established feel,” says Encinitas-born Erin, whose talent for transforming vintage ranch houses, including her own, has been a core part of the couple’s marketing magic on Instagram. “The lake is a thriving community with a huge social life.”

Lake San Marcos home - living room

For this ’80s ranch home, Erin opened up the living room floor plan and connected it to the outdoors, which features hillside views.

It also has its own laid-back lifestyle, which they frequently chronicle with the accompanying hashtag #LivingLakeSanMarcos. Set around two golf courses and a long, narrow artificial lake, the tranquil community is just 15 minutes from the coast—important for surfer Jason, who grew up in Florida—and includes four restaurants and the Lakehouse Hotel. “Everybody has golf carts,” says Erin. “We take the kids to school in one. There are vintage pontoon boats. We go out on the lake fishing. There’s golf, stand-up paddleboarding, pickleball, tennis.”

The Danielses, both Realtors, were snapped up by Compass Real Estate to represent the neighborhood, where a selection of single-story ranch homes dating to the ’60s have commanded steadily rising prices in recent years. Erin, a self-taught designer who has gutted and flipped properties in the neighborhood, knows how to help clients envision what a house could be.

Lake San Marcos home - kitchen

The Danielses keep a streamlined design in their home. “Your house needs to be your retreat and sanctuary,” says Erin. “I want the perfect balance of warmth but clean, not cluttered”

“A lot of people have a hard time visualizing,” she says. “I have the eye and can throw out ideas and how much it’s going to cost. It used to be a retirement community, so they’re not huge homes, but we are able to modernize the layout and enhance the character and breathe some new life into them.”

Her usual starting point? Opening homes up to celebrate the scenery. “Most homes in the neighborhood have a view of a golf course, the lake, or the hill that we’re nestled at the bottom of. We can access natural light with windows or sliders. I try to focus on having that indoor-outdoor access to nature and being outside in San Diego.”

Lake San Marcos home - pantry

Lake San Marcos home – pantry

Outdoor areas create extended living spaces for homes at the lake, which tend to be two- or three-bedrooms. At the Danielses’ home, a 1980 ranch house that looks clean and modern after an inch-by-inch gut remodel, kids Dylan and Ella have plenty of room to play outside with the family’s newest addition, a long-haired cream dachshund puppy named Bella.

The house, the third they’ve remodeled and second in the neighborhood, makes for perfect marketing material with Erin’s spot-on sense of style: “It’s definitely timeless and bright and airy; very California, but I want the home to feel established. For furnishing, I love to mix in vintage pieces, to bring that level of warmth and coziness.”

Lake San Marcos home - dining room

Lake San Marcos home – dining room

Lake San Marcos home - coffee table

Lake San Marcos home – coffee table

The family’s favorite place is the downstairs living room, which features a vaulted ceiling and a 50-foot wall of windows overlooking the golf course and mountains. “We get great sunsets,” Erin says. “We enjoy hanging out down there and entertaining.”

That joy translates well to attraction marketing. “All the things we do here have drawn people to the neighborhood through real estate,” she adds. “That was a big thing for us. And it was an easy thing to do because we love where we live.”

Lake San Marcos home - couch detail

The Daniels’ home has a California casual vibe that mixes affordable brands, like CB2, with statement pieces with history.

Lake San Marcos home - back porch

Connection to the outdoors is a big focus for the family, and the layout embodies that. They filled the pool in the backyard for more outdoor dining and lounge space, including a putting green. Landscaping is complete with a mix of evergreen shrubs and large succulents among accent fences. When they’re not enjoying the views at home, they’ll take full advantage of lake life with a fishing excursion or quick golf cart drive to Amalfi for dinner.

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