New builds certainly have their advantages—after all, they're essentially blank slates just waiting to be filled with personality—but those crisp white walls often come off as cold and generic. So when a powerhouse pair of young successful tech lawyers purchased a new-build house in Marina Del Rey, a beachside suburb of Los Angeles, for their growing family, they turned to interior designer Kerry Vasquez to help them transform it into a home.
I wanted the house to reflect my clients, their personalities, and their lifestyle—stylish, relaxed, slightly whimsical, and 100% kid-proof.
"The goal was to create a modern Californian aesthetic using a neutral palette while incorporating pops of color and natural materials as much as possible," Vasquez tells MyDomaine. The home is located just a few miles from the beach, so the designer kept things light, bright, and airy to help give a sense of place with one notable exception: vivid Scalamandré wallpaper emblazoned with an animated zebra design. "I wanted the house to reflect my clients, their personalities, and their lifestyle—stylish, relaxed, slightly whimsical, and 100% kid-proof," notes Vasquez.
Scroll on to step inside and take a tour of the charming final result, featuring a wallpapered breakfast nook you won't want to miss.
From the beginning, Vasquez had her work cut out for her. "They wanted everything completed within a three month timeframe, and by sourcing in-stock items and them being crystal clear on what they wanted, we were able to make that happen in time for their kiddo’s first birthday," divulges the designer.
Thankfully, her clients had a clear idea of what they wanted and didn't waste any time when it came to making decisions. "To say they knew what they wanted and were ruthlessly efficient decision makers is putting it mildly," explains Vasquez. "I think this may be the quickest design project I have ever experienced."
"As working professionals and parents, these clients wanted the home to reflect their personality, be laid back yet stylish, and 100% kid-friendly," explains the designer. "Ideally everything would have soft corners and be relatively indestructible." In the living room, a custom-made low-profile sofa, a round tufted-leather ottoman from Article, and a durable rug from One King's Lane ticked all the boxes.
The new build had a bit of a modern American farmhouse vibe, particularly in the kitchen, but it felt a little cold and generic, explains Vasquez. "To make it their own, we decided to change the hardware in the house from chrome to matte black to up the chic factor and add a subtle dimensionality," says the designer. "We also chose to switch out the light fixtures with something warmer and more modern."
Although the updates in the kitchen are striking, the most impactful upgrade made to the space can be seen in the breakfast nook. "We changed out a drab gray accent wall for this classic wallpaper from Scalamandré," says Vasquez. The bold wallpaper, along with the matte black hardware and the modern light fixtures, are all relatively small, subtle, and inexpensive ways to get a big visual bang for your buck, notes the designer.
Another way Vasquez made the most of her budget was by repurposing furniture from the homeowners' previous space. "One of the only things we kept from the clients' previous home were the mossy green Eames dining chairs, which I loved," recalls the designer. "I tend to draw on earth tones, so moss green and rust became natural accent colors throughout."
However, when it comes to sourcing new pieces, Vasquez prefers to shop locally whenever possible. "I was able to do this with most of the art, utilizing an oversized wood block print from local design mavens Block Shop Textiles, local L.A. artist Anne Kyle, and even threw in one of my own original paintings," she explains.
The American farmhouse-inspired architecture shaped the overall aesthetic of the home, influencing Vasquez to lean toward traditional versus avant-garde design choices. "We wanted to keep things modern, fresh, and comfortable, which suited the client and the home," explains the designer. In the bedroom, a modern canopy bed from Restoration Hardware perfectly embodies the home's traditional yet modern aesthetic.
The aesthetic was also carried into the primary bathroom thanks to a neutral palate and, of course, plenty of plants. "One of my favorite ways to style is with plants," notes Vasquez. "The green not only adds color and warmth but actual oxygen to your space, literally allowing you to breathe deeper."
The term "Primary Bathroom" is now widely used to describe the largest bathroom in the home, as it better reflects the space’s purpose. Many realtors, architects, interior designers, and the Real Estate Standards Association have recognized the potentially discriminatory connotations in the term "Master." Read more about our Diversity and Inclusion Pledge.
The primary bath, like the kitchen, also boasts chic matte black hardware. The Restoration Hardware mirrors, drawer pulls, cabinet knobs, and towel ring — all in a matte black finish — add a bit of edge and sophistication to the neutral space.
The downstairs guest bathroom also got a major upgrade and was remodeled to be both ADA accessible and stylish. A combination of subway and penny tile make an otherwise ordinary all-white shower dynamic and interesting, and a sliding frameless shower door keeps the space open and bright while black hexagon tile anchors the room.
It's safe to say Vasquez succeeded in transforming the blank-slate new build into a stylish, relaxed, kid-proof space filled with personality and charm. "I love the feeling you get when you enter the house now, it feels warm and vibrant—like we turned it from a house into a home," says the designer.