California Cool Exterior

More and more I have been asked to consult on the exteriors of homes I am designing. I suppose this makes all the sense in the world since of course the exterior should be an extension of what's happening on the inside. As Veneer "Designs", I don't limit myself to interior design only.

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This could be as involved as all the elements - materials and colors, lighting, door and window styles and sizing, and hardscape concepts like the rendering you see in development above.



AFTER (in progress. We will have house numbers, lighting, and entry hardware to install)

AFTER (in progress. We will have house numbers, lighting, and entry hardware to install)

This could mean quick fixes like paint colors and lighting alone, like this current project in progress. White paint can be transformative.


Or it can be creative solutions to spice up a ho hum exterior. My client remodeled the kitchen in his Venice Canals home 5 years ago. He had always meant to paint the exterior. Flash forward to 2015 and he finally got around to it with my input. Not many LA locales imbue the laid back and artsy SoCal surfer vibe than Venice Beach. Painting his drab exterior dark grey was the right move. The front of the house faces the canals while the back of the house is actually on the street side and obscured by trees. To get attention we had the house numbers painted extra large on the garage in the same light blue color as on the front entry door. 


I try to capture that California Cool look on every house I work on but even more so when it comes to the curb appeal of the exterior.  For a guide on how to achieve the complete look on your home, if you dare to go dark, read ahead. 


The color we chose was Benjamin Moore Gravel Gray 2127-30 because it reads the darkest and hides the most flaws.  With Benjamin Moore's Bird's Egg 2051-60 as the light accent paint color for the number decal and the entry door color. To take it further, dimensional Eames house numbers can be added near the front door. A super cool door mat by Commune. A mod planter with stand. Pavers set in a chevron pattern with grass growing in between as the base for a casual hangout area.  String lights (with a black cord). A circle of lounge chairs and stump stools around a lava rock propane fire bowl. Nailed it. 

Playa Vista - The Children's Spaces

When I tell you that the couple who hired me put their kids' needs above all other priorities, I kid you not. It was very sweet how the children's comfort, enjoyment, and security in the spaces we were creating were the driving force behind every inch of the house. Which meant that when it came to designing the kids' dedicated spaces, we probably spent the most time and attention.


When you first enter the home, the playroom is immediately past the foyer and its a quiet room tucked away from the main living area one floor up. It has its own bathroom and patio access which also makes it the best room to double as a guest room. Unfortunately its not that large so the only way to make it work on both levels was to design a custom Murphy bed on the main wall. Yes, that beautiful wood paneling actually houses a queen size bed.

Custom cabinetry rendering showing the bed in the open position to guide the cabinet maker in his fabrication.

Custom cabinetry rendering showing the bed in the open position to guide the cabinet maker in his fabrication.


The best way to make use of the wall space and help the room to straddle both kiddie and adult vibes was to build bookshelves to display an array of interesting books and house toys. A mod Acupulco rocking chair was draped in a sheepskin throw and works as an intimate corner for adults to settle in or a cuddly spot to read children's books with the little ones.


Soft textiles and neutral tones kept the room calm. The colorful toys infused it with enough energy in my opinion. An industrial rolling cart was used as toy storage and with a few easy pieces, a play room came to life.


Moving upstairs to the third floor we have the girl's nursery and the toddler boy's room. Gosh I love the energy and creativity that went into these rooms to make for a truly magical experience for these adorable tots.


We went masculine and industrial in the boy's room, as you can see. To store his massive collection of books and toys we utilized the ubiquitous plumbing pipe shelves to create a custom unit that hugged the underside of his window and worked its way up the wall. Easier to reach lower shelves house his favorite books and toys. Higher up are the items he shouldn't be messing with before asking for help.


Doing one accent wall of fauxe concrete wallpaper gave it a subtle industrial warehouse feel and some textured to the otherwise simple space.


But you know, the room still needed something and that was both dark navy duvet and Roman shades as well as a custom salvaged wood headboard. We looked up and down for a cool little boy's bed that wasn't a bazillion dollars. When we couldn't find it, we decided to take this gorgeous carob wood slab, mount it to the wall, and voila a headboard was born.


Oh my, this nursery steals my heart. We basically took every decor element throughout the house and intensified it into the tiniest room.


Indigo accent ---> dip dyed Macrame wall hanging commissioned from Juniper & Fir. African mudcloth ---> Roman shades using the specialty DISC line of textiles. Brass knobs to add bling to the dresser. A gorgeous antique Persian rug. Even an accent Hmong batik fabric pillow. 


Tribal wallpaper by Cavern Home on every wall for this room, because why not?! And the requisite Animal Print shop baby animal prints. 


No spare inch went to waste. We had a unique 28" tall area to place more shelves. When we couldn't find something that fit, Clad Home sold us this display shelving frame and we installed a beautiful chunky light wood shelves on it to create a unique piece.


I seriously can't decide which kid space I love more. Do you have a favorite?

Playa Vista - The Master Suite

Upstairs we created 3 bedrooms specific to each of its occupants unique personalities and requirements. Let's take a look at the master suite first. Its relaxed, layered, and cozy. Its an incredible room that doesn't take itself too seriously.  There are the formal elements of the painted wood paneling and the custom window coverings. Then there are the special touches that infuse the space with life like the live edge plank headboard, layered bedding. and brass accents. 


I wanted to bring in touches that were unique to this room so besides the wood pieces, the textiles were one of a kind. We used indigo African mud cloth for some color contrast to all the neutrals going on by way of two additional custom cushions at the foot of the bed. And these relate to the indigo accents we have else in the house.


The nightstands was my client's already (from West Elm I believe) and it matched the wood finish of the live edge headboard to a T.


Across the bed I did his and hers highboy dressers made of more salvaged wood. Each dresser displays little objects and momentos that are sweetly on trend. Brass baby, lots of brass details and white accents to underscore what's happening downstairs in the kitchen.


There is a bathroom in the suite. Here we reframed the mirror with more salvaged wood and added cool matte black hardware. Of course we laid another antique Persian rug here for color and pattern infusion in the sedate space. You see the famous sconces by Schoolhouse Electric.


Playa Vista - Open Living Area

I can finally sit down and give you a few more details about the Playa Vista project now that its been on Domino. I want to start with the main living area which entails a grand sized kitchen, the dining area, and the living room. Its the main reason my clients chose this house. For the generous space alone.


The kitchen is simply divine. Just look at that huge island. The house is a new construction where the developers had a very fixed idea about modifications - there are NONE. So as soon as the keys were turned over to my clients we got busy personalizing the home by replacing a lot of fixtures  and adding many customized personal touch to make it feel more special. 


It hurt part of my soul to swap out perfectly good brand new fixtures with newer ones, but the space would have felt pretty blah if we hadn't and the contractor was able to take a lot of it for reuse on other projects. The kitchen cabinets are traditional so we added some youthful pep with brushed brass modern handles, oversized bronze pendants over the island, the bikini stools, and the antique Persian runner. Salvaged wood accessories and plants, bohemian textiles added warmth and texture to the very white space as well.


We really wanted the island to be  a welcoming spot where family and friends frequently gather so the stools were chosen for their style and comfort. The last details were all considered, even the place settings.


Moving into the dining area, we added a built in banquet with drawers for toy storage, lots of ethnic pillows piled high, and black Eames chairs to coordinate with the bikini stools nearby. Comfort and functionality were taken into consideration. We pushed the dining nook against the wall so that the kids would have open floor space to play on that beautiful Indian rug.


Can we just talk about the oversized textile art?! Its a framed black and white Senegalese fabric that is simply stunning in that scale.


Moving into the living room, lots of custom features had to happen to make it work. The first was building a custom fireplace face out of cement hex tiles and a salvaged wood mantel to house the gas fireplace insert. Figuring out how the geometry of the tiles would lay out and overseeing the install was a nail biter.


The second thing we had to work out was a sectional that would be extra cushy, extra deep, extra long and fit the space perfectly.  Clad Home was awesome to collaborate with. We had a unique idea to have an ottoman that could be pushed against the sofa to make it into a sectional, or stand alone as an ottoman. With a walnut table straddling it for placing drinks, THAT could also stand alone as its own piece. Clad Home was able to make this and to very high quality standards. Its a beast, a beautiful beast.


We looked for floor cushions for weeks and couldn't find the right color combinations or global style. So we made our own from African mud cloth. And those tie into the throw pillows and baskets throughout the house.


See that coffee table? Its terrific, but its the third one we tried in the space. We tried wood and other metal alternatives but when something is wrong, it feels wrong. Once this guy got into the space, it was like trying on Cinderella's glass slipper. A perfect fit.


We were able to reuse my clients' existing credenza and Venetian mirror as the entry console. Styled up very pretty it fits into the home's new aesthetic.


Next up, the bedrooms upstairs....

Playa Vista on Domino

Happy Day! The project I completed at Playa Vista this summer just made Domino Magazine and I couldn't be more elated. Domino has been a source of inspiration for me for years and years and I am pleased as punch they thought my work was worthy. 

Now that the "reveal" is official, I can start blogging away about the different areas of this gorgeous house. I will break it up over the course of the coming week. For now, you can get all the dirt over at Domino's site

Design for Fundraising

My son attends Ocean Charter School which provides the equivalent of a private Waldorf education for free. Its a truly magical environment for him and us. Since it is a public school and their goals quite lofty, they require a good deal of fundraising throughout the year. One way I can contribute to the school is by donating a room design to the annual silent auction.  I figured to pay it forward and share the boy's room I designed with you, along with the sources.

The budget was very limited to under $1000. The little boy who occupies this room told me he wanted his room to be "raccoon". That's it. That's all I got to his mom's horror: "raccoon". Um, okaaay. She pulled together very Scandinavian images of black and white kids rooms. No problem. I pulled the color scheme of raccoon - black and white and created an inexpensive new scheme to make them both content. 

I started with recommending to paint the existing white walls with a dark grey or black lower portion. Either the lower half in a straight line or a jagged semi mountainess graphic. Something like Oh Joy's nursery. Then bring in the Ikea Kura lofted bed, and for extra points paint it grey and build an A frame out of 2x4s to create a playful feel, inspired by this Ikea hackBelow the lofted bed, you can create a hang out area with a low black Eames style rocking chair and a super plush sheepskin throw rug.

To break up the stark black and whites I recommended a vintage midcentury wood dresser, with curved styling. The wood tones will add warmth and the vintage aspect works with the budget. I'm assuming they could luck out on Craigslist. The ceiling light will be swapped out with the matte black industrial style flush mount light, perfect for the abuse it might take in a boy's room. Finally some actual raccoon imagery by way of a pillow and framed print. The triangle wall decals can be installed near the bed and relate to punk feel of the print.

If you like what you see, ask me about e-design. 

Noteworthy 12

Happy Friday.  I have two recent photo shoots to share with you soon, very soon. For now, I will leave you with my recent collection of noteworthy links. You can thank me later and have a wonderful weekend.

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1) I dig the cute graphics from Honey & Bloom 2) Lovely Brooklyn home tour; this lady seems to trip into a charmed life. Jealous. 3) Someone sure understands how to bring greenery into a minimalist contemporary interior via Inside Out 4) OMG! That rope railing 5) Honey & Bloom also makes jewelry. How do you choose? 6) Another super cool Brooklyn home via Lonny, the epicenter of cool clearly 7) Have you found Sole Society yet? I have bought two pairs of shoes from them already online. Awesome style, nice fit, great prices. All of their booties are just too good. And now they have a store in Santa Monica 8) This minimal wood and leather hook is beyond "me"

Ellendale Update

Its been about a year and half since Ellendale opened to its student residents near USC and a cool addition has made an appearance. A custom graffiti mural in the courtyard.


And I don't think you ever glimpsed the completed pool area and lounge. Look to your right. How ridiculous is this set up for its student residents?!