Archive for April 2018

This L.A. Designer Nails the Ultra-Cool Vibe California Is Known For—Here’s How

April 30th, 2018

In the initial stages of designing a space, it’s often tempting to focus your search on the one thing that “makes” the room. While no doubt a single element can transform a space, my design philosophy concentrates on the synergy between several items within a room and the effect created when they combine. This method of designing yields a more casual and unfussy vibe that California is known for.

The key to achieving this look is to break down a room by its layers and see what each layer brings to the table. For example, layer one is the rug and often times serves as the foundation. Rugs with muted tones and an organic feel are my favorite. They add color and pattern without being overpowering.

Keep reading for more of my modern bohemian décor tips as we explore the various layers, dimensions, and theories behind achieving this ever-cool California look.

Nothing Ages Faster Than Newness

From the Spanish colonial revival movement in the ’20s and ’30s to the post-war design boom of midcentury modern, California is deeply rooted in its design past. There’s a true appreciation for vintage here, proven by the hundreds of flea market vendors and furniture shops bursting at the seams with vintage treasures.

A sprinkle of vintage is one of the key components to the Cali-cool style that doesn’t look dated. While it takes more work to find the right vintage pieces, the result is worth every hour spent scouring Chairish (one of my favorite sites for vintage finds). My favorite vintage pieces to incorporate are mid-century coffee tables, benches, lighting and accent chairs.

It’s the Little Things

The broad strokes of an interior design concept are nothing without the supporting details. This circles back to the “sum of many parts” theory, delivering a comfortable, personal, and collected look.

When selecting accessories, vary the textures, materials, finishes, and patterns to keep the look multidimensional. If everything feels the same, the look falls flat and lacks interest. Handmade ceramics, vintage pillows, and books are my go-to finishing touches, and when in doubt, add a plant with a cool shape.

It’s Just Like in the Movies

Let’s think about how a movie is cast. There’s the lead role, supporting actors, and extras. When I first sit down to design a room, I figure out what piece(s) I’d like to highlight in the design. Being aware of the lead allows you to cast the best supporting roles to interact and bring out the best in each other. This becomes the framework for how I prioritize selecting pieces and allows me to stay focused on the final desired outcome.

Equally important is the practice of editing. Too much of something (e.g., pillows on a sofa) may yield diminishing returns. It’s all about synergy and a well-measured approach to each layer.

California style is all about casual, not cluttered.

Design Knows No Borders

Rich global diversity is undeniably a strong creative influence in California. From the rustic textures of Mexican terra-cotta to the rich colors of Morocco and Turkey, layering in global design elements is very characteristic of the popular West Coast style.

When incorporating bold global design elements into your space, I suggest pairing seemingly opposite pieces. Midcentury modern is perfect for striking the right balance to avoid a Moroccan palace-themed room.

Antique Chinese and Thai textile pillows are my absolute favorite ingredient to sprinkle in, and if you want to go for a bolder look, Turkish rugs are like none other.

This article was originally published on My Domaine on April 25, 2018. 














Tour Kathryn M. Ireland’s Santa Monica Home That’s Big on Bohemian Decor

April 23rd, 2018

The former Million Dollar Decorators star plays and works amid her boho “mishmash” — complete with a garden straight out of a Moroccan riad.


“I spent so much time going to work when my kids were younger that the only person who got to enjoy my house was my housekeeper,” quips British-born designer of textiles and interiors Kathryn M. Ireland.

After 25 years in Santa Monica, California, she has finally committed to the city’s work-from-home ethos with her new micro-compound, purchased last year from the actor Tobey ­Maguire. “I wanted to be able to cross the courtyard to go to the office,” she explains.

Kathryn ireland

Ireland cools off in her pool, framed by the back of the main house, a 1990s addition by architect Ruben S. Ojeda to the original 1920s Spanish-style cottage.

Known for her boho spirit and exuberant use of color, Ireland has warmed up the 1920s Spanish main house and made it feel more cohesive with the property’s two other structures — a guest cottage and a modern back studio.

And she’s done it using a “mishmash” (as she likes to call it) of her brand’s signature textiles, English and French antiques, patchwork rugs, and eclectic accents, from a hand-painted Sicilian table to the whimsical photograph of a horse having tea that hangs in one of two kitchens. (“Yes, I use them both,” she says.)

bohemian decor santa monica homes

In the living room, the custom sofa is in a linen velvet from Ireland’s fabric collection, and the armchairs are covered in an Otis Textiles linen slipcover (left) and a fabric purchased in Marrakech (right). The rag rug is from Amadi Carpets, the steel-framed sliding doors are by Chateau Domingue, and the wall hanging is a 19th-century suzani.

The former Million Dollar Decorators star — her clients include Julia Louis-Dreyfus and Steve Martin — turned the courtyard into an oasis. The outdoor lounge, with its wicker pendants and striped banquettes, is now the perfect vantage point for watching watercolor sunsets. Newly planted succulents and a freshly installed swimming pool create, she says, an “Ibiza-meets–Luis Barragán” vibe.

She hosts dinner parties in the back studio, roasting chicken in her cherry-red AGA stove. Instead of cabinets, she uses her own textiles as curtains to disguise shelves of pots and pans. Defining the dining area is a monolithic, floor-to-ceiling 18th-century English wooden cabinet that’s filled with design books, several of them written by Ireland herself. The table, which seats up to 26, is also antique and “very important,” she observes, adding, “I like to use that word when an antique’s good.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes

Artworks by Hugo Guinness, Martin Mull, Thomas Hart Benton, and others hang above a Mexican console.

Keeping watch over guests is a photo of Ireland in the style of an odalisque taken from an old Scalamandré advertising campaign. “It’s kind of cheeky,” she says. There’s also a piano (“because someone can always play”), and when she’s ready to scamper off in her Birkenstocks across the courtyard to bed, the revelry will often continue into the night.

bohemian decor santa Monica homes

When it’s just her, she eats in the combined kitchen and TV room in the main house. Under a vivid landscape of the Santa Monica Pier by photographer Stephen Wilkes, she settles into the oversize L‑shaped sofa, which is topped with pillows in beach-glass hues.

bohemian decor santa monica homes

The stonewashed linen fabrics are from her son Otis Weis’s new textile line, Otis Textiles, which he describes as “a contemporary collaboration of both our tastes.” (Also launching this spring is her new online site, the Perfect Room, which will offer room bundles curated by Ireland and other designers, including Michael S. Smith, Barry Dixon, and Beth Webb.)

In the living room, a 19th-century Uzbek textile hangs over the red linen-velvet sofa as a symbol of Ireland’s design empire. “This I bought many years ago, and it was the inspiration for my Safi Suzani print,” she says of her iconic textile pattern. “You mix things up with old and new,” she says in a room where the furnishings include 17th-century French chairs, an 18th-century Mexican console, and a cocktail table from her furniture line.

bohemian decor santa monica homes

The latter, a simple wood piece, is covered with objects both precious and not. “I’m always picking things up,” she says, “whether it’s an Indian cowbell, a flea-market Buddha, or that little tartan chair in the corner. Things just speak to me.”

The powder room is covered in a pale paisley wallpaper, and in her son Louis’s bedroom, Indian blankets from the Santa Monica flea market reflect Ireland’s lifelong love of needlework. “I won a prize when I was seven years old for my patchwork quilt,” she muses. “I used to do perfect hexagons, but now you can do it so rustically.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes

Upstairs, there’s a reading nook with an upholstered chair and ottoman in a new pattern — her first foray into digital printing — inspired by a summer trip to Maine.

“I’ve always been a hand printer, but when my mentor, Robert Kime, said he was doing digital and I realized what it could do, especially this painterly look, I had to try it,” she says. “There’s a movement back from beige and plain to color and pattern again—whether it’s on fashion models or on the walls.”

bohemian decor santa monica homes

In the powder room, the sink and stand are by Kreoo, the fittings are by Fantini, the mirror is by Arteriors, and the wallpaper is from Ireland’s line.

The raffia sheers floating around her iron canopy bed are another of her designs, and the bedspread is an antique Indian textile in vivid oranges and reds, a pair of hues (“They are just so uplifting”) that recur throughout the compound.

By contrast, the master bath — which sports a contemporary look with its quartz floors and modern glass shower — might just be the most understated room in the whole place. “I like to hide the loo, so I’m a big believer in a little pony wall,” she says.

Back to Ireland’s reality in the bedroom, where a quirky red Sicilian mirror has a prominent place. “It’s Persian candlesticks living well with Chinese nightstands, an African table, and a French piece,” she says, describing her beloved mishmash. “If only people could live so effortlessly together.”


This story was originally published in the April 2018 issue of ELLE DECOR.

A Pasadena Garden Mixes Fresh and Modern Design with a Rustic Style

April 20th, 2018

When Nord Eriksson started renovating his garden in Pasadena, he knew he wanted a back yard with a swimming pool and a place for his two young sons to play. But beyond that, he decided to wing it. So work began, a hole was dug and then he and his family left for a vacation in Spain.

Eriksson returned deeply intrigued by the Spanish gardens he’d seen thriving in hot, dry conditions similar to those in Southern California. Inspired by his travels, he re-imagined his yard, crossing his own contemporary style with the time-tested traditions of Spain. The result is fresh and modern, yet also rustic and rooted in the past — and it has been chosen as one of six self-guided stops on the Garden Conservancy’s Pasadena-area tour on April 22.

The family’s midcentury modern ranch house dates to 1949, with a garden by pioneering designer Edward Huntsman Trout, who created the much-admired grounds at Scripps College in Claremont. Eriksson, a second-generation landscape architect whose firm, EPT Design, was co-founded by his father, Robert, took Trout’s original plan and gave it a judicious, site-sensitive update.

A new garden with a traditional twist in Pasadena
Rustic gravel, cobble, broken concrete and flagstone suit the grounds of the 1940s ranch house, now painted dark gray instead of beige. Jennifer Cheung


In broad terms, he borrowed from the tried-and-true in older gardens both here and abroad, replicating the sensible ways the Spanish capture and retain water, incorporate stone in many forms and select long-lasting, climate-appropriate plants.

For the pool, Eriksson painted the plaster a sand color reminiscent of the beaches of Majorca. Making use of tons of loose cobble edging beds on the property, he laid a stone wall and walk alongside the water. And he added a backdrop of Pittosporum tobira, which was ubiquitous on the streets of Madrid. “It was exciting,” he says, “to come back and create a memory of our journey.”

Where Trout had enclosed the rear patio with a high curved block wall to sharply divide the yard into upper and lower sections, Eriksson carved out additional levels for entertaining and other activities. He dropped the old flagstone patio several inches, poured long concrete steps and directed storm runoff so that — like the rain in Spain — it flows from one terrace to the next, soaking through permeable gravel and into the ground. The new outdoor living room, outfitted with a built-in grill and fire bowl, invites lingering after casual get-togethers.


A new garden with a traditional twist in Pasadena
The outdoor living room’s built-in grill and fire bowl make hosting alfresco gatherings convenient and comfortable. Jennifer Cheung


Eriksson also lowered the block wall to open up sight lines to the pool. “I like how the garden tumbles down and away from the house,” he says. “I come home from work and drink in the view.”

Just below the shortened wall, he installed a pad of broken concrete, reclaimed free from local contractors, as a spot to read in the shade of an olive tree planted by Trout nearly 70 years ago. Lower still, near the guesthouse, Eriksson swapped out a rose garden for a conversation nook. Blue chairs on more gravel are surrounded by eugenia and four sycamores. Massive Agave americana sprouting in rosemary separate the area from the open lawn where the kids, now teenagers, once played soccer.

Instead of the “jittery messiness” of seasonal blooms, Eriksson limited the plant palette to year-round green foliage for a sense of calm. Altogether, he planted 37 kinds of drought-resilient plants, most of them quite common. Boxwood, pittosporum, jade plant, agave and cactus, all proven survivors in decades-old Spanish gardens, appear most often. Tree mallow, one of the few flowering shrubs, adds color and a layer of mystery.


A new garden with a traditional twist in Pasadena
A variety of forms and textures, including those of cereus and jade plant, are showcased in pots. Jennifer Cheung


The redesign, which Eriksson says took shape in phases “as we had money,” was finished in 2017 after six years. He believes the garden — now equal parts retreat and remembrance — was worth the wait: “I’m interested in longevity and things that endure, not in things that come and go.”


Article originally posted on LA Times in April. 2018.