Home. It's such a loaded word. For us, home is our happy place. It's our private refuge away from the noise and structure of the world outside. A place where we are in control and where we can truly be ourselves. There's no pressure to conform to societal norms, no expectations to be or look like something you're not—you can truly relax and breathe. It's why we can't wait to get back when we've been away from it too long. This is the feeling Katie Hodges of Katie Hodges Design wanted to create.
When the Los Angeles–based interior designer first stepped inside this Hancock Park apartment in Los Angeles, she knew what she wanted to do with it. The nine-unit historic art deco building was constructed by Bing Crosby in the 1930s, so the place was literally bursting with personality and charm thanks in part to its architectural bones. "My goal was to create a space that felt equal parts cozy and modern while maintaining a neutral color palette," Hodges told MyDomaine. "There's so much romance in Spanish architecture, and I wanted to capture the feeling of understated elegance in a way that still felt modern and fresh."
While Hodges's style evolves with every space she works on and each home really "calls for its own voice," she can never veer too far away from that laid-back Cali-cool aesthetic. "There is always a strong pull toward that California-modern style with textural elements incorporated throughout the design," she says. And we think that after scrolling through this beautiful space, you'll agree with her.
The key to creating a space that looks collected yet personal is fusing furnishings styles. "Combining the modern (like the safari chairs) with the old-world accents (such as the vintage nude oil painting and wooden folk chair) creates a multifaceted design story that doesn't feel forced," she says.
The living room is by far Hodges's favorite space thanks to the tall ceilings, plaster fireplace, and large, Tiffany-glass window, which she says "had me at hello." Hodges adds, "This is the room with the most amount of miles on it. The layout was perfect for working from home, an intimate evening with friends, or Netflix on the couch with the pups. Aside from its prettiness, it's completely livable with nothing too precious to be utilized."
Because the details in the original architecture are so stunning, Hodges kept the color palette very neutral and simple to highlight the arches, ceiling beams, and plaster detail of the fireplace. Instead, she used greenery to add color, frame the focal point of the fireplace, and break up all the whites in the space. "When mixing plants, varying the leaf scale keeps the look interesting," she adds.
Draperies are an important design element that often doesn't receive enough recognition, but Hodges aims to change that perception. "It has the power to elevate a space and mounting rods closer to the ceiling is the oldest trick in the book for exaggerating windows and creating maximum impact," she advises.
Layering was also key to ensuring this large open space felt warm and homely. "Pretty much all of the large furniture pieces were from my previous apartment," she says. "The sofa, coffee table, bed, bookshelves, bedside tables, living room credenza, dresser, dining, and even the star fabric roman shade. I strongly believe in investing in well-made and timeless foundation pieces that can look completely different when restyled."
This also turned out to be one of her biggest challenges. "Using existing furniture pieces in new ways is much less exciting than going out and getting new stuff, but I was proud to have pulled it off," she says. "I had to continually check in with myself and make sure purchases were something I truly loved and not just for the sake of filling the space."
The layering technique also applies to the coffee table design. Here, Hodges curated a personal selection of coffee table books, pottery, objets d'art, and candles.
The vintage kilim rug ties all the elements together. Its neutral coloring anchors the eclectic mix of vintage pieces. It's also why Hodges typically begins her design process with the rug selection. This vintage kilim was her first purchase. "I recommend this first step especially for those considering a rug with a pattern as it can be easier to build a room around a rug, rather than finding a rug that works with an already designed room."
Black leather safari chairs are the foundation piece of the room. "The darker, more masculine leather element grounds the space and drives the design," she says. They're also her greatest find, she tells us, sourced online from Denmark. "The black worn leather and walnut combo speak to my soul," she laughs.
Not wanting to change too much of this iconic apartment, Hodges kept the black-and-white art deco tiles in the kitchen are original to the apartment. "It goes to show that some materials truly are timeless," she notes. "I love a trend as much as the next person, but the longevity of design is always at the forefront of my process. Living in a vintage apartment that still felt so current was a great reminder of my philosophy, and I even referenced the scale of the shaker cabinets for one of my new build projects."
Hodges kept her modern upgrades to a minimum, ensuring it complemented the historic aesthetic of the apartment. The pot rack is a nod to the old with a hint of the new.
This quaint, light-filled breakfast nook sits adjacent to the kitchen. It also doubled as the dining room and Hodges's home office—a tall order for such a tiny space. "The addition of the built-in window seat was a game-changer, allowing for more function, storage, and that extra little bit of specialness," she says. "Any opportunity for a nook, I will gladly take."
When selecting furniture for a small area, Hodges suggests you keep the pieces (especially those in the forefront) visually light so as to not overwhelm the space. "My designs are usually composed of the sum of many parts, rather than just one focal piece driving the look," she says.
Hodges is particularly fond of the pillow textile arrangement on the bench. "It is my all-time favorite because it's understated yet impactful," she beams. "Mixing textiles don't have to be complicated, and one of the reasons I opened my online shop is to share my textile obsession and help people curate their own special collection of these one-of-a-kind treats. The black seat cushion is made from an African vintage textile and functions as the color foundation of the space, much like what the safari chairs achieved in the living room."
Hodges decided to continue the neutral and black color palette from the living room into the bedroom, with a slightly more rugged aesthetic inclination. "Day to day, I am immersed in so much visual stimulus when I am home. I crave simplicity and tidiness," she explains. We couldn't agree more.
The designer admits she's not much of a minimalist, but editing her selections was key to creating the right mood. "Every room has its little challenges, and to my surprise, I couldn't find sconces that fulfilled my vision," she says. "I contacted Worley's Lighting with the idea, and the Katie Sconce was born. So many of the products I made at the shop were born from a gap in the market, so I encourage people to reach out to vendors with custom requests and ideas."
After finalizing this place, she now has a renewed understanding for her clients. "I completely understand why they have such a hard time to furnish their homes because when it's so personal, the vision is lost," she says. "Because I knew this place was somewhat short-term, I didn't take it too seriously, and everything fell together with ease."
Collecting vintage pieces has been a priority for Hodges over the past year, and it's been the most fulfilling "hunting and gathering" experience. "I'm pretty impatient, so allowing the time to find meaningful pieces has its challenges but is so worth it," she says. "A word from the wise, though: If you find a vintage piece, don't delay too long in purchasing. It's a total heartbreak when someone else snatches that 'liked' item you've been delaying purchasing." Preach.
The entry evokes a moody yet calm aesthetic. Hodges sourced vintage items, which felt a fitting introduction to the apartment. "The rest of the spaces are more light and serene, so a darker vibe broke up the color palette in the rooms," she says.
The bathroom is pure art deco magic thanks to the unique tiling combination. "I wish I was responsible for the beautiful pink art deco tiles, but they are original from the '30s and thankfully preserved by the previous occupants," says Hodges. "When styling this space, I added masculine and playful touches to neutralize the femininity of the pink tiles. Using black in the gallery frames and roman shades grounded the color scheme and balanced out the girliness in the pink."
This post was originally published on February 7, 2018, and has since been updated.