black and gray 2-storey house

In this Manhattan Beach home, traditional elements get a modern makeover

black and gray 2-storey house

When the word “traditional” is used in interior design, it often conjures up images such as heavy floral patterns, grandfather clock ticking and tasseled ottomans. Although many people shy away from using traditional elements, there are ways to make them work without making it look like Antiques Roadshow. Interior designer was recently tasked with softening the feeling of a Cape Cod-style home in Manhattan Beach.

“I think the design of this house was all about using traditional elements in a new way,” says Lester. “Getting rid of the boring, traditional box and bringing out the personality and fun details!” She was able to use comfort, often seen as the antithesis for traditional design, and clean lines with soft paint colors and cozy furniture. This she juxtaposed with quirky wallpaper and original artwork. Lester said, “Trad is cool.” Find out more about her process.

“In every room there are always thoughtful creative solutions to our clients’ needs! The extension leaves for the table in the dining room can be dropped and stored inside the table. The accent tables can be used as additional seating in the reading nook. The playroom sofa is covered in an outdoor fabric that’s super comfortable and easy to clean up spills and stains.”

“The kitchen was actually already existing when our clients purchased the home. We only had to change the cabinet hardware and give it a paint refresh. When you are looking to update your look without having to do a complete overhaul, these little details can make a big difference.

“First, we wanted to revive the traditional details and give them depth and personality, so we painted all of the millwork a beautiful warm light gray. They were visually separated from the windows and doors and given a personality that was lacking in their previous white counterparts. This color was continued and integrated into the millwork in most of the main spaces as well as the primary suite. We used deep blues, dark blacks and even greens in spaces that required a splash of color to continue our bold, traditional-inspired palette.

“Contrast and the infusion of deep hues like black, green, and navy were absolutely intentional in making this space feel fresh, chic, and slightly more contemporary than a more traditionally designed counterpart. This house is no exception to that rule. The warm woods were complemented by black accents and metallics. This makes the space feel larger and brighter. Black can make a space feel bigger, brighter and bolder if used in the right way.”

“I loved that the homeowners knew that this was going to be their forever home and were ready to really invest in the property and make it their own. This was a great feeling and added pressure to my decisions and the project.”

Wallpaper: Traditional roll arm sofas with deep, plush cushions are used in the family room. They are pre-washed and soft to give the room a casual, livable look. We also preferred a tufted design in the playroom. However, the fabric we chose was not traditional. It could be used indoors or outdoors to provide maximum comfort (hi, kids! The geometric print not only made the space feel lighter, but also added a touch of humor to the traditional casing details and coffered ceiling. My philosophy when it came to lighting was “less is more”. Each light fixture should be simple, but elegant, with a touch of personality to add a modern twist to any room.

“A lot of our inspiration came from the traditional elements that the house came with. We didn’t want the house to become a waste of its traditional elements. Instead, we wanted to marry their traditional-ness with more modern decor. The house’s location to the ocean also had an impact on our choices. This is evident in the textures and colors used throughout the house.

“I love the living room! It was clear to the homeowners that this house would become their forever home. This meant that the living room would hold many important memories. The charming corner banquette, classic built-in bookcases and magnificent windows that span almost the entire wall are just a few of the many highlights. This room is truly a paradise.

“About 75 percent of what we do is custom made and designed. The remaining 25% is a mix of all three! Many of the art, small furnishings, rugs and other decorative items come from our retail stores. I love to shop at flea markets and vintage shops to find unique pieces for every space.

“The home owners were adamant about staying away from larger more mass produced artwork and really leaned into one-of-a-kind found objects and pieces of art and photography that were meaningful to our clients and really helped tell a story of the space and the people who live there.” Because they had just purchased this property, the homeowners didn’t want it to be completely ripped out. This would have been both environmentally and economically incontrious. Instead, we did a “facelift.”

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