We've written about decorating rentals on MyDomaine before and the one thing we continually harp on about is that you don't have to compromise on style just because it isn't your permanent home. Besides, it is your space after all regardless of whether you live there for one year or two. The key is to invest in classic pieces that stand the test of time so you can move from one rental to the next and not always have to buy new each time. That's what this family did when they moved into this 5 bed, 7.5 bath home in Santa Monica, California.
This proved a fun challenge for their interior designer, Courtney Nye who set about fusing their modern aesthetic with the home's Cape Cod transitional architecture using a mix of existing décor (such as their Serge Mouille ceiling lamp) and new furniture pieces that felt timeless and special enough to continue with them to their next house. The plan is to stay in this rental for two to four years, long enough to really set a foundation and a space that feels like home.
Being much larger than their previous house, Nye knew she needed to add a lot of new furniture that wasn't necessarily specific to this space, just complimentary. Given all of the obstacles, we think you'll agree that Nye really smashed it out of the park with this one. Prepare for your retinas to dilate as you scroll through this stunning space photographed by the talented Amy Bartlam.
While Nye's interior style varies per project, she tends to err on the side of modern minimalism with a warm and natural aesthetic. "Clean but unfussy," she says. "Attention to materials, texture, and lines versus statement with a strong pattern, color or opulence." This can be seen in the living room design here. Nye opted for the lounge chairs to back onto the dining room so it didn't block the flow between the rooms.
[My style is] clean but unfussy ... Attention to materials, texture, and lines versus statement with a strong pattern, color or opulence.
The dark soapstone on the fireplace was existing and the ceiling light was a piece they already owned which introduced a good contrast to an otherwise softer palette.
Nye selected a sofa with a floating/light feel to it so it didn't obstruct the beautiful detailing of the French doors behind it. The lounge chairs have beautiful detailing from the back which makes for a nice view from the dining room. Despite the sofa and chairs being symmetrically placed across from each other, Nye ensured visual interest and variety by mismatching the fabric slightly—white velvet for the sofa and a blush/warm gray mohair for the chairs.
"I found the sofa pretty quickly and we loved it instantly so I think that was one of the first purchases (as well as a priority space because the living room had no furniture at all to start so we focused there)," she explains.
The coffee table was selected as a white oak to add warmth and the rug was kept to a simple linear texture that is a tonal variation of the white and soft gray fabric palettes. The Campbell chairs by Sean Woolsey Studio really complement the space and the soft color scheme. "He was just shooting the lookbook while I was searching for pieces for this room and the lines of the frame play so well with some of the light fixtures in the space," says Nye. "It felt like they were designed together."
Since this home was a rental, the starting point was the existing palette because they couldn’t remodel or paint. "Luckily it was a beautiful home to start with and the white oak floors, white walls, and neutral curtains provided such an easy base," says Nye. "In the master bedroom, the rug was the starting point as that was gifted from her mother’s house and was a perfect size for the large room."
To add balance and depth to the living room, Nye added slim and linear black accents with the pearl sconces and the mirror. She also repeated the eased edges and soft curves throughout the space. This design style was initiated after Nye found the sofa and the lounge chairs which both have a variation of that. "The arc mirror and graceful lines of both the ceiling and floor lamp compliment that theme," she continues. There was also a practical reason for not choosing sharp edges since they have a small child.
The biggest challenge for Nye was selecting pieces that could be both unspecific enough to move on to a future (likely modern) space, but also feel appropriate in the current traditional space, while still being special and intentional. "We also needed that style to carry continuously throughout the house, which had many existing pieces," she continues. "The majority of the items also had to be a fairly short lead time or in stock, because they were moving in mid-November and hosting a large party in the house at Christmas." And on top of that, Nye also lives in a different state. "Although California is my home state so luckily I’m very familiar with resources in L.A.," she says.
The vintage radio console is a highlight of the space and another piece the client already owned and has taken from place to place.
There's nothing more exciting than finding a vintage piece that has the perfect level of patina. So you can imagine the thrill when Nye spotted this stunning vintage Pierre Jeanneret chair. "It has such beautiful texture and style that floated well between modernism and a slightly traditional backdrop, and the vintage element with the patina keeps the space slightly relaxed," she says.
The dining table and cabinet were also brought in from this client's previous home so for this space, Nye really only need to find dining chairs and a rug. "This room feels fairly integrated with the living room so the palette needed to flow," she explains. "With so many chairs, going a dark, contrasting color to the table would have felt heavy but the light tones of the fabrics in the living room could have been risky on the dining chairs. Instead, we stayed with light wood but loved the Hoffman chairs for the openness, and a textural interest since it would be a similar wood tone to the table."
The graceful lines worked well with the living room pieces. The rug is darker warm gray, low pile vintage Oushak that helps contrast the light wood and be more durable for possible spills.
The light palette and modern style continue from the living room and into the master bedroom. Nye loved the details of this bed immediately. "It has so much sculpture and interest, it felt clean and modern while also having a classic familiarity of Windsor style spindle," she says.
The rug was gifted from a family member so they pulled the soft gray tone from there for the bench upholstery. The art pieces are by Frederick Forest and were selected for their calm and minimal feel.
The blue shades add a touch of color without impacting the overall color scheme.
While the nursery and guest bedroom are still being finalized (story to come on MyDomaine soon) Nye is so happy with how this home came together. "We really had a lot of puzzle pieces to consider," she says. "Sometimes under those conditions of needing to make selections that could be so flexible or even urgent, it’s easy to end up with a more safe or generic space, but I think we have so many very special pieces."
Instead of filling the house up with “quick, cheap and temporary” furniture, now this client has a lot of beautifully crafted and timeless pieces they can carry with them from home to home. "There is nice flow between the spaces as well, where if in the next house any items need to be mixed differently, it’ll still work," she adds. We couldn't agree more.