While traveling in South America, homeowner Lisa Baskin spotted an abstract art piece that propelled her to action. On seeing it, she thought, "Oh, God, I'm going to buy that, send it home and redo my house."
Newly divorced, Baskin and her four young children had remained in their 5,500-square foot family home, a 1920s Georgian house in Brentwood, but the interior never felt quite right. (Baskin says it's because she had originally purchased the dark and heavy Spanish-style furniture to fit a previous home.)
She finally found a perfect collaborator in Santa Monica interior designer Christine Markatos Lowe. A free-spirited personality with a penchant for eclectic and colorful design, Baskin says Lowe could "rein me in, tame me, but also give me options that catered to my contradicting love for the traditional and funky."
Over 1½ years, Lowe and Baskin transformed the confused home into a bright, colorful dwelling that met the needs of this busy mother to Noah, 11; twins Ben and Quinlan, 9; and Finley, 7. "We wanted to keep the existing bones of the house, but modernize it and make it really feel like a family home," Lowe says.
Baskin made no changes structurally, but with Lowe's help, brought a sense of peace to the chaos that once characterized the home.
Gone were the mint green walls, tired furniture and garish wallpaper. Lowe infused the home with a well-thought-out color scheme, which ripples throughout — soft lavenders in the living room, calming blues in the kitchen, cool greens outdoors. Pops of color via art and accessories offset with white further brighten the space.
In the formal dining room, artist James Welling's color-filtered photographic landscapes add a fresh feel to the room's more traditional moldings. New dining furniture was crafted in the traditional style, but simplified to give it a modern twist.
Baskin nixed florals and instead favored more geometrically inspired patterns with simple lines and contemporary themes. Primary blues and forest greens define the children's playroom. Striped Roman shades are used alongside New York City designer Aimée Wilder's wallpaper, which references defunct analog technology such as cassette tapes and large speakers. A blue-and-white zigzag Madeline Weinrib rug sits beneath a kelly green Tucker chair from Serena & Lily and a mango wood desk from West Elm.
Rather than go bland and neutral, Lowe populated the home with all new furniture that still had scale but also a more feminine profile. As with the walls, pattern and color were used generously here too. With children living in the house, Lowe says, "Nothing can be too precious. Every space needed to also be for the children, as well as Lisa."
Bold patterns especially can be very forgiving when it comes to children's antics.
In the living room, armchairs covered in striking green-and-purple Ferrick Mason fabric with a lattice print are tempered by a sofa in lavender and a hexagonal ottoman covered with a dreamy pinwheel print by Jennifer Shorto.
As a way to give Baskin's children a "voice" in the home, Lowe framed select pieces of their prodigious artwork alongside Baskin's art collection. Visitors might sometimes be hard-pressed to identify which is which. In the refreshed French country-style kitchen, the children's self-portraits look over the dining area. The tufted banquette covered in a denim-colored fabric with orange contrast buttons and bistro chairs adds to the inviting dining scene.
The entire property was also re-landscaped to infuse the place with a little romance. Flower-filled arbors and Dedon tree swings hang on a massive coral tree. A hidden pond, a sunken trampoline and a treehouse were also created to give Baskin's children an additional outdoor play space.
It's been a long road to this colorful conclusion and Baskin says her next steps are planning a few parties to make full use of her revived home. But in the meantime, she's basking in the feeling of a task well done. "I love walking into my house," says Baskin, "I come home and I think, 'Wow! I can't believe this is where I live.'"
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