By now, we're very familiar with the giddy feeling that follows when a striking home tour lands in our inbox. For us, it's equivalent to the joy at seeing a Net-a-Porter box on our desk. Yes, we really love interior design that much at MyDomaine HQ—this one made our hearts palpitate. So you can imagine our delight when this 1927 Spanish-style home in West Hollywood, California (it's just up the street from the Chateau Marmont) was sent our way. Designed by Leslie Denham of Denham Interior Design, this 3000 square feet home with 4 bedrooms and 3.5 bathrooms is pure envy.
The house was mostly untouched Denham tells me when the client first handed it over with just a few minor renovations over the years from former owners. Despite that, she decided to keep the architectural bones intact and didn't perform any major construction on the home. She modernized the space using new furniture, home décor, and fixtures which came to around $200,000. The biggest challenge was working with some of the small, awkward nooks. "Old houses have a lot of pokey awkward spaces and this house was no exception," says Denham. "Off the entry and kitchen is a small 5’x7’ space that we had to figure out what to do with it. We ended up turning it into a home office."
With less than three months to complete the project, Denham had her work cut out for her, but she managed to pull it all together like a pro. "The client is a writer with a very busy work life so we wanted to make the process as smooth as possible," she notes. "We created something very serene, calming, and warm for when they moved in." Read on to take the tour.
It's clear from peering inside the living room that this home oozes charm, but it's not just the furniture we're swooning over. No, it's the beautiful ornate moldings, terracotta tiles, and the lush garden of olive trees and bougainvillea outside. The living room has three pairs of French doors going out onto the garden with high ceilings and original iron sconces. The natural light and views just beckon you to sit and look at the garden all day or enjoy the city views.
"With such great bones everything needed to be clean-lined and simple," explains Denham. "We didn’t want to detract or take away from the architecture so we went with neutral palettes and lots of texture. The focus was on the garden and the view, so everything felt very organic indoor/outdoor with minimal prints/patterns and minimal color."
Since the living room is such a large space, Denham broke it up into different zones so it felt less like a large box. She also wanted to create visual interest that would keep the eye moving across the room. A big challenge was deciding where to put the TV. They knew they didn't want to hang it over the fireplace so they put it on a hidden wall that's next to the living room entry and created a separate small seating area around it.
To create a cohesive space, Denham laid down a large jute rug to connect all the different seating areas. Then she layered it with a vintage faded blue area rug under the main seating area. "We also added a sheepskin rug in front of the fireplace for extra depth and coziness," she says.
One of the most beloved pieces in the house is a great mid-century style rocking chair. "I think they are so underutilized," says Denham. "People have this perception that they are granny-like but there is something so zen about rocking in a chair and looking out into the garden." Right in front of the large picture window is a long and deep sofa that says ‘come hither’ and draws you into the room. "You immediately want to plunk down onto it and just stare out the window," she says.
The client is a writer so they requested an "unfussy place" where they could focus without distractions. "The house still has some of the original lead pane hand-blown glass windows and the desk stares straight out onto the garden," says Denham. "The space is light-filled and serene." The challenge in creating the home office was the size. It's a 5'x7' small square shape right off the entryway and kitchen so there wasn’t much room to work with. "We used a drafting table so that the client could have ample space but angled the desk to give the illusion of more space when not in use," says Denham. "We also made custom long oak floating shelves that almost run the full width of the room to visually lengthen the space and offer storage for books."
Denham managed to fill all of the awkward nooks in this home with beautiful furniture and made the design just as compelling as any other room.
The kitchen is also small so Denham kept it simple and found a beautiful 18th-century pine oak table with painted green legs that stand out against the terracotta floors and white cabinetry. "It’s not a huge kitchen so using a narrow console as an island lends extra storage and counterspace," she says.
The dining room has three pairs of French doors that open up onto a small garden with a fountain so the doors are always open and the sound of water is constant. Are you in heaven yet? "We found this beautiful antique oak refectory table and paired it with these modern oak and caramel leather colored dining chairs that pick up on the warm tones in the terracotta tiles," explains Denham.
"This room isn’t large so we kept it light and airy with white linen curtains; a constant throughout the house to maintain that breezy vibe," Denham notes. To continue with the idea of indoor/outdoor, the buffet is actually an outdoor garden console table. Again repeating this concept with the light fixtures, she used iron lanterns traditionally used for outdoors over the table.
Denham hung a collection of frames in all styles and colors with family photos above the console. "All are in black and white to tie them together but again having them in the dining room helps continue the relaxed casual feeling of an otherwise traditionally formal room," she adds. "A large vertical mirror in between the windows reflects the garden and bounces the light in the evening."
There was a balcony that a previous owner had enclosed in one of the bedrooms. "It was a small 6’x 4’ box that we weren’t sure what it should be at first," says Denham. "Then we decided to build in a daybed that filled the entire nook." She had a custom cushion made and scattered textural cushions all over it in shades of white and gray with embroidery or fur to keep it interesting. "Now people can lay in this room and stare out the windows while reading, again offering a real connection to the exterior where you can see the bamboo from the second story window," she adds.
Due to its prime positioning in the L.A. hills, the garden is broken up into smaller areas. So Denham embraced it and used planters to create zones. "One area is elevated and surrounded by olive trees where we placed a teak table and chairs for dining al fresco," she explains. "Lanterns light up the space at night creating a magical glow.
Another area features teak lounge chairs for an intimate spot to read a book or chat with a friend.
She also used powder coated metal chairs that she says "lean into the Mediterranean feel of the home" and are set against the backdrop of lavender and rosemary. We're really feeling this look.