Dare to Go Custom - The Insider Scoop

A custom white sofa in Calabasas

A custom white sofa in Calabasas

Here is a little not so secret trade secret of mine, I like to go custom when possible with furnishings. It may seem intimidating to go that route and commit to a piece being made for you that you can't return if you are unhappy with it; versus seeing something in a showroom first. Or it may sound really expensive. 

A custom sectional with interchangeable ottoman in Los Feliz

A custom sectional with interchangeable ottoman in Los Feliz

For me, its actually my preference for a few reasons:

  1. I have found time and time again that going custom tends to be about the same price as big box brands and actually a fraction of the cost of designer brands.
  2. Instead of spending hours scouring for that sofa that fits just right in a client's room and falling short, its actually easier to design it exactly to my specifications.
  3. It makes my designs original. Its harder for people to copy me if they can't buy the exact sofa I used in a project. It makes me feel like I give a more personalized and special end product for my clients.
A blue velvet sectional in Redondo Beach

A blue velvet sectional in Redondo Beach

I have been using Clad Home exclusively for my custom designs because I trust the oversight. Rosa Beltran, who owns Clad Home, is a fellow interior designer. She already has a collection of her own designs to pick from if you are scared to design something on your own. Many times I have taken her items and modified the depth or length, or changed a sectional to a sofa. If its my own idea, I trust she will double check my dimensions and ask the critical questions so that something ugly isn't fabricated.

Copies of a daybed and a sofa I liked from other vendors that were either not available or came in the wrong fabric, modified to my exact dimensions.

Copies of a daybed and a sofa I liked from other vendors that were either not available or came in the wrong fabric, modified to my exact dimensions.

Usually I see a sofa or bed that I like but isn't quite right in terms of size, proportions, or fabric options and ask her if she can make something like it. Or my clients see something they love that is well beyond their budget and we modify the concept to make it theirs.  I get a rough estimate and match it to my budget.

The shop's Melrose sofa modified to a sectional

The shop's Melrose sofa modified to a sectional

If its a win, I pick the fabrics to use on the pieces in her LA showroom. She has a wide selection of yummy fabrics. The shop itself offers a tempting array of decor and home goods to pick up while you choose your fabric. Once the fabric is selected and the sizing and style determined, a final quote is generated. When payment is made, she creates detailed hand sketches to approve. That way everyone is on the same page about exactly what is going to be made so there are no questions or issues later on.

4-6 weeks later the custom item is delivered. Its a top notch looking item which is why I have used her again and again. But when for whatever reason it  is not, she jumps in to correct the flaw until its perfect. 

An upholstered bedframe

An upholstered bedframe

For all these reasons, I pounce at the chance to do custom furniture. The process is pretty safe guarded so mistakes don't happen. Everyone ends up happy. My clients get beautiful tailor made furniture pieces they adore, I get original designs in my portfolio of work, and her small business thrives. Clad Home has been an awesome fit for me and my needs,. They make all of their items locally in LA but can deliver anywhere. I know there are dozens more of small custom shops in each city who would be happy for the chance to make you a nice custom piece. Check local yelp reviews, follow their Instagram and Facebook feeds to be sure they can handle your design sensibility, and visit their warehouse/shop to see finished pieces before you make the leap. 

The Playa Vista sectional with walnut wood topper showroom in the factory

The Playa Vista sectional with walnut wood topper showroom in the factory

The Playa Vista sectional with custom walnut wood topper in action

The Playa Vista sectional with custom walnut wood topper in action

 

 

A Mini Dining Room Refresh

I have been pining over Cesca chairs for years and years. I love their standing in the modern design canon and the that way too many people had a knock off version in their mother's eighties kitchen. I love that people think they are ugly and I think they are incredible specimens of designs.  ANYWAY, after hemming and hawing I finally pulled the trigger.

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About the same time, Lighting Society reached out to me to see if I was interested in using one of their lighting fixtures in my work. Once I caught sight of the stylish Thurston chandelier I gladly decided to collaborate. I have been into oversized lighting over dining areas of late, and I like that it offers high end style in an affordable way.

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The last piece of the equation was new art. I'm obsessed with Amy Bartlam's large scale fine art photography prints of Joshua Tree. Obsessed to the point that I coerced her to sell them through my webshop. I wanted to stare at these two beautiful landscapes side by side each day and hung 24x30 prints above my sideboard to capture the minimally organic modern California cool feel I was after for my dining space. 

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All the parts and pieces go together really well now. Like it was meant to be all along.

My Dream Dressing Room

With the price of square footage being as insanely high as it is in LA, very few of us have real deal dressing rooms. Even my more wealthy clients skip it. BUT if you considered that a capsule wardrobe would save a lot of space AND you dared to dream, what would your future dressing room look like?

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Mine is a minimally tomboyish assortment of items that would make me very very happy to spend time with every day. Inspired by Arhaus, I have always had the idea to display shoes in a traditional bookcase for an eclectic twist. The black wood Tremont Cabinet from Arhaus with its leather handles is the exactly right amount of rustic masculine to counter the overly feminine shoe. I started with that. I would want to bring in an uber cool lounge chair that screams California Cool, for both hanging loose clothes on and taking a few moments to myself. A modern brass side table where I could stack books and magazines I mean to read and place drinks would accompany the lounge chair. Of course a full length floor mirror is required and I would want something modern, feminine and in a rose gold frame. All these over a lush and authentic Beni Ourain rug below, and a large Taza lantern above to give the intimate space a warm exotic layer. Muuto coat hooks for displaying my statement jewelry as wall art and favorite hats and bags. And finally, hang art that both calms me and inspires me to get dressed and join the world outside. Now that I have devised it, I want it so bad. In my next house then....

Style Cues for 2017

This being the first Monday of the new year, let's look at style cues to come. I don't like to say trends because when you are investing on refurbishing and renovating your home you don't want passing trends. You want to spend money on elements that feel contemporary, unique, and timeless. These are interior design elements we will be seeing more and more of in 2017.

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DARK GREEN PAINT COLORS

Dark forest green and Black Forest green are the answer for designers who love using charcoal grey and navy blue as kitchen cabinet and accent wall colors. If you feel like everyone and their mother is using dark grey and dark blue, dark green is a fresh alternative. It looks fantastic with white oak floors, pastel colors, and brass hardware already a mainstay in contemporary interiors. It feels different than every other home. I already have my sights on it for a new kitchen in Nichols Canyon this year.

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ART DECO

If you are sick of Hollywood Regency and feel like you have seen it everywhere lately, then a new round of Art Deco revival is for you. Defined by bold geometrics and ornamented geometric patterns, it celebrates luxury and the machine age. You will see it in furniture with the use of lush velvet, channel tuftinga nd curvy shapes, and brass frames. In wallpaper and tile with strong linear patterns. To be honest its too glam and maximalist for my tomboy style, but I'm sure there are plenty of you out there who are excited by this chic development that you will see a lot of in upscale European hotels and restaurants.

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HANDMADE POTTERY

After all those open shelves were installed, we realized we needed beautiful pottery on display to fill said shelves. A collection of vintage 70s pottery, new handmade studio creations, and wooden vessels look just right in modern open kitchens. I have to say this is my favorite home design trend as I gravitate to the earthy, organically shaped, and bohemian collection of pottery vessels. Its easy to pick up a unique piece here and there and they provide functionality while elevating daily use to a ritual.

What developments and style cues have you noticed taking shape in the new year?

Culver City Remodel

Culver City Kitchen Remodel

Culver City Kitchen Remodel

Culver City has been a hotbed of activity for my design firm of late. It makes sense - young 21st century families moving into post war developed starter homes results in some friction between how they want to live and what the homes can offer. In a lot of cases, a reconfiguration is necessary, In some cases we can get away with cosmetic overhauls. In most cases a combination of both. Enter Culview....

Exterior BEFORE

Exterior BEFORE

Kitchen BEFORE

Kitchen BEFORE

Master bathroom BEFORE

Master bathroom BEFORE

Kids Bathroom BEFORE

Kids Bathroom BEFORE

Culview was your typical grandma house. You could tell a family had lived a nice happy life here, but zero changes or updates had been made since the 1960s and even though it was a nice size house it felt sad and dingy.

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We started with a kitchen remodel before the new family moved into the house. The planning and execution occurred last winter. I wanted to tear down the wall between the laundry and cooking areas so that became a bigger single room and have the majority of storage on one wall. We were also short on time so we went with Ikea cabinet boxes and Semihandmade flat slab walnut fronts. The Ikea cabinets were delivered in 2 weeks so the contractor could start installation. The Semihandmade fronts took 10 weeks but the lack of fronts wouldn't slow down the overall kitchen installation. We chose the walnut and white mix to capture the modern style my clients were after while referencing the midcentury origins of the house. With snazzy chrome retro style handles to complete the midmod look.

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As soon as the kitchen was complete we rolled into the exterior refresh. My client wanted to paint the bricks from day one. We went with white and simple black accents to keep it looking clean as well as it give the house a little prepster East Coast vibe since it wasn't a purely midcentury modern style. It had some traditional touches so black and white was the only way to tie it all in.  A new door, new outdoor lights, mailbox, and house numbers were all that was needed to give the house major curb appeal. Look at that lush new landscaping out front. I was so happy to see the brick pavement go. What was that?!

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After a few months of settling in, my clients were ready to tackle the 3 bathrooms. A kids bathroom, a guest powder bathroom, and their master suite. The two downstairs bathrooms were easy as they were purely cosmetic. All the plumbing locations remained the same and we installed new tile and fixtures that related to each other.

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How fantastic is that funky black and white graphic floor tile with the brass and woody elements? It feels midcentury but of this century and a lot of fun for the kids and guests who will use these bathrooms. I also used 9" white hex tile as the accent and shower walls for neutral texture.

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And that brings us to the master bathroom which was the biggest transformation of all. In place of one long room with a nappy tub/shower combo, I wanted to create a luxurious walk in shower with a built in bench, clad in marble, for my clients.

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How delicious is the new bathroom layout with the mountains of honed marble tile, the floating cabinet, and brass accents that matches the downstairs bathrooms?

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The final piece of the puzzle was changing the entry into the master suite so that we ended up with a walk in closet into the master bathroom. With a sliding barn door and new closet system, I'm truly envious of the finished results.

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Fantastic quality work by Lion Builders, we were able to transform the house and have a beautiful project to show for the time we put into it.