Frances Merrill TRADE:
Founder and principal, Reath Design
Contemporary bones mingle with warm and lively interiors. ABODE:
A modern house in Santa Monica, California.
Designer Frances Merrill was faced with an aesthetic challenge on one of her very first projects after launching her Los Angeles-based firm, Reath Design
. Her clients lived in a very modern, four-bedroom, seven-bath abode with contemporary bones, yet the couple wanted a home full of color and whimsy -- not an easy task when the existing architecture feels constraining and limiting. Luckily, her brave clients knew they would have to take some risks to achieve the bold look they desired. "It was great to work with someone who was fearless and creative," the designer shares.
First and foremost, Merrill needed to warm up the sparse space. "The house was more modern then the clients wanted and could read cold with the existing stone floor," the designer shares. "We really needed to figure out how to marry their warm and lively style with the more modern architecture." To do this, the team introduced copious amounts of color, pattern, and texture to add layers of cozy warmth and visual interest. "My client had torn out an advertisement from Etro
that had a great mix of color and pattern," the designer shares. "Anytime we were worried about adding another component to the mix we would look at the ad."
Modern bones don't always lend themselves to warm design elements. "My client knew she wanted wallpaper and patterns and that isn't the easiest thing to do in a house with all straight lines and no moldings," shares the designer. Creating zones and ensuring that, despite the different colors and patterns, the rooms still felt connected enabled Merrill to bring the design to fruition. "For his office, my clients wanted an east-coast library feel but we didn't want to fake it in a California-modern house," Merrill describes. "We took the same palette of red walls and wood built-ins that a more formal library would have, but gave it an appropriate California twist."
With a furniture plan built for entertaining -- the living room's central daybed enables for conversation with those seated on the living room Chesterfield sofa and those outside at the barbecue -- Merrill not only honored her clients' aesthetic wishes, but their functional desires as well. Incorporating a comfortable banquette in the living room provided even more seating, and upholstering exterior furniture in patterns that echo the interiors made for seamless indoor, outdoor living. Perfect for a modern, lively California family.
Photographs: Teri Lyn Fisher