When interior designer Jenika Kurtz of J. Kurtz Design showed us her latest project, we couldn't stop staring. Looking out onto the ocean in the Pacific Palisades, this airy Los Angeles home is a dream. And it's also proof that a sophisticated, stylish home can also be conducive to kids (read: spills, accidents, and outdoor voices inside). Built in 2013, the architectural bones are new and modern, and considering that there are four bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, a family room, a dining room, a living room, and a rooftop deck, there was a lot of work to do to fill up the entire space.
Kurtz was up for the challenge. The end result? A contemporary meets midcentury-modern design masterpiece that also feels 100% livable and very California. "This house is so welcoming and relaxing but feels really alive at the same time," Kurtz tells MyDomaine. Aside from the aesthetic achievements, something about the overall vibe just makes "it feel really good to be in this space," she continues. So to learn about all the design decisions that contribute to this atmosphere and to get her expertise on how to create a kid-friendly home that can also grow up with the family, take a virtual tour of the gorgeous space below.
A Warm Entrance
"Everything we selected was very intentional and meant to be beautiful, comfortable, and functional," Kurtz says. "Nothing is precious, but everything says something," she adds. This is the secret to designing gorgeous interiors that also accommodate kids and families. Like any well-decorated space, it needs to feel authentic to those who live there and it also shouldn't feel like a museum.
In the entryway, for example, there's a clean and sleek feel from the crisp white paint and polished hardwood floors, while the printed, colorful textiles and indoor plants bring in a softer, more liveable feel. And while the DWR bench was a customized in Peter Dunham upholstery, it's still very practical, functioning as a space to step out of your shoes after work or school.
A Fresh, Open Kitchen
Since the home is only five years old, they didn't have the worry about making any major renovations. "With the exception of adding millwork in a couple areas, we started with a solid backdrop and filled in with new furnishings, fixtures, and accessories," says Kurtz.
In the kitchen, where clutter should be kept to a minimum to ensure plenty of usable, clean space, most of the style opportunities also need to provide some functional benefits. Everything has a purpose, from the artful pendant lights to the industrial leather stools from Thomas Hayes Gallery and even the sleek, spacious kitchen island. All it takes is one lovely ceramic vase and a few pieces of artwork on the floating shelves to finish the look. It's the perfect backdrop for quick family meals, homework study sessions, and a casual wine night with friends.
An Inviting and Formal Dining Room
"When we first started working together, the client was still living with furniture from their previous home that wasn't the right style or scale," Kurtz tells us. And before they started working with Kurtz, the family "sat around a breakfast table adjacent to the kitchen," but they decided to transform that area into a desk station. So they "kept the dining chairs—and that's about it"—moving them from the breakfast nook into the formal dining room.
The casual, nature-inspired materials and the unique oat hue of the chairs make the room feel inviting and very California. To dress things up a bit, Kurtz opted for a formal bronze light fixture and an oversize round mirror that amplified the space. We also love how the midcentury-modern credenza speaks to the style of the chairs while also providing stylish storage space.
A Light-Filled Living Room
The living room is the focal point of the home, and though you can't tell in this image, it blends seamlessly into the open-plan dining room. The color scheme is one of the reasons these two spaces complement each other so well. And Kurtz tells us, "It developed pretty naturally as soon as we selected the living room rug."
The range of vivid orange hues, deep shades of red and crisp specks of white really ties everything together. Then she pulled out those colors while decorating the rest of the room and home for items "like the table lamps in the dining rooms, the wall color in the powder bath, and accents in the pillows and accessories throughout the public spaces. Everything else was kept pretty neutral to complement the existing finishes." We also love the staple pieces in the living room like the sofa, which the family found on a trip to Palm Springs.
A Cozy Family Room
One of the biggest challenges in decorating this open-plan space was "deciding on the window covering fabric for the living, dining, and family rooms. Because they are so open and blend together, we had to be very careful about what we selected." Another challenge was finding a way to incorporate the client's style while also choosing pieces that flattered the architectural style of the home.
"When we first started working together, the client had a vision of classic midcentury, but since the architecture is more modern, we had to find a balance between the two," Kurtz explains. "We could have gone with something solid for all areas, but we wanted something more interesting. I think the client and I must have reviewed 100 different fabrics. Normally, I wouldn't present this many options, but my client was so good at knowing exactly what she wanted that it went quickly, so sometimes having plenty of options can be a good way to find out what you like.
"I always want my work to reflect more of my client's style than my own, but there are certainly qualities that run through each of my projects."
A Classic Powder Room
"I wanted to give them a better-suited, more cohesive look for their new home," Kurtz says, and this powder room is proof of a mission accomplished. We love how the wall color and wood finishes reflect the color scheme in the right side of the home. Though this space is small, a consistent sense of personality, place, and purpose shines through. This is thanks to the coat-hued paint, bright subway tiles, sleek marble countertop, and most importantly, all the vintage décor finds. Though they don't take up too much valuable countertop space, the concrete planter, black wood-framed mirror, and small green print add just the right touch of style to beautify the space. Oh, and you can always count on Aesop products to elevate a bathroom.
A Timeless Room
In the boy's room, the Oeuf bunk bed really shines. And while the bunk bed is definitely age-appropriate right now, the space itself will grow up and mature just as he does. This is thanks to the neutral jute rug, a grown-up and on-trend pendant light, practical floating shelves, and simple curtains. Even the bedding manages to be both fun and bold while also offering a more timeless style that won't require a total makeover later on.
A Playful Room
"We went a little bolder in the kids' spaces," Kurtz tells MyDomaine. And even though the colors are slightly brighter than they are in the formal spaces, it still stays true to Kurtz's style, which she describes as "considered." It's both "colorful and calm. Even when using bright colors, funky patterns, or quirky pieces, I like spaces to feel balanced." For example, in the girl's room, the jute rug, coastal-inspired table lamp, and plush, neutral daybed will last throughout the years. And since the staple pieces are more mature and versatile, her personality shines through in the throw pillows, wall art, and an upholstered ottoman. As she grows into her style more, these things can either stay or be swapped out.
An Energized Workspace
In the end, out of all the things in the home, Kurtz's favorites are the living room rug and, believe it or not, something as subtle as lighting. "I'm kind of in love with the flush-mount fixtures in the living room and family room," she tells us. Personally, we're really digging the way she transformed all the workable, usable spaces into style opportunities. For example, this desk space picks up on some of the midcentury-modern elements, and the floating shelves offer up a place to display artwork and décor, and yet the desks are still very much practical workspaces for the kids to focus while they study.