Santa Monica 3 - The Bedrooms

To me, the bedrooms are the most interesting part of the house and where things got really juicy. To be honest, I was a bit surprised by how adventurous R was willing to go, yet the rooms were kept pretty simple. Let me explain.


I have been very cautious to use wallpaper in the past since its such a big commitment. What if the client gets sick of the pattern and then is stuck with it. Plus its really hard for me to find patterns that I don't think are cheesy. For this house, wallpaper just made a lot of sense since the master bedroom was on the small side and we needed to make it feel majestic fast. It didn't hurt that this pattern from Hygge&West is beyond mesmerizing with its metallic accents and underwater illustrations. The room took on an aquatic feel and I paired it with a modern abstract blue rug from Loloi Rugs that reminde dme of looking at pool reflections. I brought in more black lighting fixtures to relate to the dining room light and the exterior paint. We had the vintage nightstands custom painted black as well. 


With the intensity of the wallpaper and black lighting fixtures, everything else could be kept really simple and no fuss. A large linen bedframe, a black and white Moroccon blanket, and just a leaning mirror with Paul McCobb chair are all that are needed to complete the room. I couldn't resist a pair of shibori pillows to underscore the water theme.  It has a boutique hotel room feel to it and I adore this bedroom.


In the children's room something really special happened. R is a pilot and he was able to get aerial survey maps to use as custom wallpaper. The contractor painstakingly matched up each map (bless his heart) to create a consistent full scale map that started at LAX behind the door and moved along two walls to reach Indiana at the window. It is truly incredible and photos do not do it justice. I have never seen anything like this before. 


The room sleeps 3 kids as the twin bed actually houses a trundle below. WIth the awesomeness of the wallpaper, we could keep everything else pretty streamlined like the master bedroom.  A cute little propeller based dresser. A neutral black and white scheme. And a rainbow of Bright Lab Lights strung over the crib for color.


If we imagine the master bedroom as water, and the children's bedroom as air, then the guest room is earth. This was the most bohemian and earthy I got in the house. And secretly I know it was R's favorite since he chose to sleep in this room rather than the master bedroom.  Its small, but it is very inviting with all the wood tones, even a wood bead pendant above, and the nice dose of natural light it gets. You see more indigo to give a little contrast to all the woodiness in the African mudcloth we hung as a headboard and the playful Caroline Z. Hurley throw at the foot of the bed.


Some really beautiful details add texture and life to the otherwise minimalist room. It feels very LA to me.

What do you think now that you have taken the full tour? Which are your favorite rooms in the house.

Santa Monica 3 - The Living Area

You have seen the exterior in the previous blog post, now let's work our way inside. As is typical in a lot of these small LA homes, the walls breaking up rooms into teeny tiny compartments are usually torn down during renovations to create one larger open plan living space.  


Seeing this configuration is pretty common but I wanted to make it feel really different and edgy. The all white modern kitchen and large glass windows was a nice start for the vanilla box.  The first thing we did since we were very short on time (my client was only in town for 5 weeks and the first week we spent on concept and design development - nailing down the look and feel of the space) was go to a vintage furniture store and buy as many large items that caught our fancy. My client definitely had a funky aesthetic and sought out the weirder items. In a good way. How else are you going to add a lot of personality to a bland white space? Those nesting tables in the living room and the console at the entry are two such examples.


The second thing we did was get up very early on a Sunday morning and visit the Long Beach Antique Market. A favorite source for midcentury finds at negotiable prices.  That's where we found a lot of accent pieces and the dining room chairs. They needed reupholstering and new chair pads which of course cost more than the set of 4 chairs, but it was worth the effort of cramming them into his car and bringing them back since they add a lot of wamth and life to what would be an otherwise stark space.


Once we felt like we had our fill of vintage items and hand washing after sifting through some grubbiness, it was time to balance out the vintage with clean shiny new things that still had a midcentury feel to them, but that would be available in 4 weeks or less.  The custom sofa from Thrive Furniture was made in 10 days. That gorgeous leather lounge chair was ready to go from HD Buttercup, as well as the sculptural wood accent chair from Organic Modernism. West Elm is always a reliable source for shelf styling objects. And that stunning black chandelier from Townsend Design was worth the full 4 week wait, even though I was worried it wouldn't make it in time. It really completes the entire larger living space.


Bright colorful objects from local sources and textiles from around the world helped add energy and vitality to the overall neutral space. Its happy and bright and makes me smile when I think about it.

Santa Monica 3 - The Exterior

The pictures are in for my third project in Santa Monica and I don't know where to start. Amy is so good, its hard to edit it down to 20 or so images that capture the house. So instead I will break it out into a few blog posts to allow me to be generous with the photos without boring you.  Background - the house is a second vacation home to a British pilot. He was only in town for 5 weeks in which we had to develop the design concept, shop our little hearts out, and install everything before he flew back to the UK. Talk about a mad dash but I loved seeing instant results. We will get into that, but first let's start with the outside. 


The house is in a lovely part of Santa Monica right near the airport sitting on a hill which grants spectacular views. It was recently remodeled (not by Veneer) and was a perfect blank slate to get creative on.  It looks pretty large the way it is situated on the incline on the site, but its quite petite inside. A compact 3 bedroom.  There is a small pad outside where we created a little lounge 


You don't need much to enjoy Southern California evenings when you have a view like that. A small outdoor sofa layered with textiles for interest, a fire pit, an Acapulco chair, and string lights. Instant quintessential Cali for a Brit. If you notice the main color scheme is black and white to relate to the house's exterior. And yes those Acapulco chairs are very comfortable.


Attached to the house is a funky little space that we called the Studio.  Its like a sunroom where we imagined people hanging out and listening to music and working from home.  We outfitted this room with some vintage pieces and lots of plants. I would like to see a little jungle in here over time as R brings in more potted plants and they thrive.

There was this one ugly blank wall between 2 doors. We had toyed with the idea of cladding it in salvaged wood but ended up with a much faster and cheaper solution - hanging a large flat weave rug on the wall for texture and interest. Placing two lounge chairs in front of it created an instant mini breakout area. Wouldn't you love to sit there with a friend having a nice chat or solo flipping through a magazine? Its a sweet little spot.

Party Planning

For a while I have been concocting this dreamy outdoor birthday dinner. It would require a large backyard or industrial loft space (which I currently am not in possession of), a collection of my favorite people (definitely have those), and hoarding vintage rugs and cushions to use as the main seating (I will gladly work on that). I am thinking this soiree will happen for my 40th birthday in the very distant near future. Everytime I see one of these parties styled for a blog, I mentally categorize it. I can't help it. How perfect would this be on a summer night (cough; June birthday). Who's coming?

Source: Eye Swoon

Source: Eye Swoon

Source: Designlovefest

In the Studio

When I don't blog for a  long stretch its because I am buried. Which is good for me and Veneer, but maybe bad for interested blog readers. I have been getting really amazing job requests lately and at the moment they are all in the implementation stage so I can take a breath and fill you in on what I have been designing. 

Corporate Work - there are two offices under construction right now. Its funny that I haven't gotten any corporate interiors work since I went freelance when that was all I used to do. I dusted off those cobwebs to bring two office spaces into fruition at around the same time.

A solar panel company's showroom and work space in the Valley. On a tight budget and schedule, I had a lot of free reign to do what I wanted in a large warehouse space. Let's talk BIG graphic murals, industrial touches like barn doors and concrete floors, and professional polish to attract visitors to the showroom.


  1. In a week's time I will be shooting this rad house in Santa Monica. The canvas is modern and white. The house is a second home for a British pilot who loves retro mod LA. He is flying back to the UK in mid-May and we only had about 5 weeks from his arrival to accomplish design development through installation. Its been a fun whiplash inducing ride. More details on this one in about a week. Its going to be his happy place - a relaxed vacation house that he will look forward to visiting a few times a year.
  2. There is also SCSH, my investor clients who have been behind Veneer since its inception. They continue to develop student rental housing near USC and whenever they acquire a new property they call on me to make it interesting and edgy to catch the students' attention. Right now we are doing two pretty cool projects: a traditional Victorian with a modern twist of black, white, and gray palette and new construction townhomes with very peculiar bathrooms.

There are few more smaller projects happening and one really big multi million dollar build starting up. The above will be photographed soon(ish) so I thought it would be fun to share with you so you can follow along as they progress. Thanks for your patience.

Joshua Tree

Did I forget to mention the time we spent a few magical days with my brother and sister in law and their 4 daughters in the desert? It was mid February, President's day weekend, and they came to visit us from Michigan to get a reprieve from the brutal winter cold. Luckily for them, the temps were in the mid 80s that week and lucky for us they found an awesome house to rent near Joshua Tree.

Rock House in Yucca Valley was the name of the house and the price was right at about $100/per family per night, easily sleeping 10 in comfort. The name was appropriate since there were a few boulder groupings to scramble on around the property. We saw a jack rabbit and heard coyotes.  We clearly saw the starry night sky and Beauty and The Beast on VHS in the rec room.


About 15 minutes away was the actual national park of Joshua Tree. We were able to get the cousins out on 2 easy hikes and enjoy the immaculate scenery.


Back in Yucca Valley we visited Pioneertown; an Old Western town used for many a movie shoot that's now a fun tourist destination to polk around. The main draw was the cluster of antique shops along 29 Palms Highway down the road. Incredible prices, but less midcentury and more antiquey Western. We did score a geode for $5 and a large gorgeous quartz crystal for $18. Easily 10x that in LA. I saw a cool longhorn for $100 but A wasn't into it. 


The main idea was to get plenty of downtime with the family and it was super worth it. Every minute was sweet, funny, and memorable and worth trying to repeat annually. Just look at those beautiful punim.

We made a pit stop in Palm SPrings on the way home. It just wouldn't be a proper trip to the desert without a dip in the Ace pool or a meander through Moorten Botanical Cactus Garden. I highly recommend all of the affordable and family friendly  above whether its  a quick getaway or longer. The desert will not disappoint. 

Golden Light

There is nothing better than being on a hike at the golden hour in the golden state. Our local hike is usually dry and brown, but after a good rain the grasses grow in, lush and green, and we welcome the Spring. These images are from an iphone. I'm curious how they would look blown up and printed?

Noteworthy 09

Its Friday already, huh? Yikes. Here's my round up of things that caught my eye recently. I seem to be coveting a few material items this week. Hmmm, what's that about Natalie?

1) I'm excited for this 100 Layer Cake crafting activity this weekend. I am so there with the kiddos.  Come and say hi if you are on our side of town. 2) Enchanted by this rustic glamping wedding. It reminds me of Will and Dana's wedding last June. 3) The people at Kei jewelery have figured it out. Makes layering necklaces and stacking rings a no-brainer; one of everything and call it a wrap. 4) I toldya eye motifs were going to be big this year. 5) Every time I visit Teil Duncan's shop every painting is sold out. With good reason. 6) I have a new design crush on Studio McGee. Their work is a bit traditional for my taste but it still feels youthful and relaxed. Very nice work. 7) This little Claire V pouch is tres chic.