It took Leura Fine less than three months to transform the new 4,500-square-foot Cheviot Hills home she shares with her husband, venture capitalist Paige Craig, from an uninspired "vanilla box" into a showcase of design and personal style.
She's not a magician. Fine is the founder of Laurel & Wolf, the Los Angeles-based online design service that matches professional interior designers with clients, who then work together via the internet.
Operating as her own client, the former interior designer-turned-tech entrepreneur said she used her company's software and product resources to get the renovation done. She insists it's a feat anyone could achieve, "as long as they are working with a designer and able to make decisions quickly."
For Fine's part, she knew exactly what look she wanted. "I've been calling it neo-traditional Mediterranean," said Fine, "because it's a Spanish-style house and I grew up in the South, so I love slightly more traditional furniture, floral draperies and a formal living room – things like that."
Fine was also inspired by her destination wedding held at a traditional Argentine estancia (think: elegant working ranch) just over a year ago, complete with horses, gauchos and wine.
"There were all these gorgeous hunter greens and leathers," said Fine, "and I thought, 'I really want a space like that.' I was really inspired when I was there."
True to her vision, the two-story home features a deep palette of rich blues, greens and teals, custom draperies, elegant furnishings, fixtures and rustic details throughout.
However, it is not the artfully arranged vignettes you first notice upon entering the home's vaulted foyer; it is three massive photographs of serious guns created by Venice-based artist James Georgopoulos.
For this 2011 series, Georgopoulos photographed prop weaponry used in films and entertainment. "This one is from 'The Godfather,'" said Fine, pointing to a submachine gun. "This one is from 'Miami Vice' and that's the machine gun Lady Gaga carried on her tour … my husband [a former Marine] actually bought an entire show of his, so we have 22 pieces."
"I think in general our taste is pretty similar," said Fine of her husband. "When I met him he was living in a house in Venice that was all glass and concrete and steel and super industrial … and I like things a little bit softer, more traditional. He's been a really good sport about kind of letting me drive the bus — except for the guns, this was non-negotiable."
In the formal living room, it is art by Fine's grandmother that holds pride of place. Two of her grandmother's paintings flank the fireplace, and a bronze sculpture sits atop the generous, square coffee table. Fine took the large, black-and-white photograph of two lions herself while honeymooning on safari.
For wall color, Fine chose Hostaleaf from Behr Paint's Marquee line. "I loved this color for the formal living room because I wanted something that felt cozy and intimate … this is really a place for people to gather, talk and share stories."
Grass cloth wallpaper is a focal point in the dining room space, but it is the floral custom draperies that steal the show.
"I'm really big on one bold moment in a space, " said Fine. "I decided to let the draperies be the louder moment … and just create a lot of different textures using the sisal woven rug, the rough reclaimed wood table, and antique painted finishes on the Swedish-style chandelier and sconces — layering all the textures together creates dimension."
In the kitchen
"The kitchen was an interesting challenge for me," said Fine, "because the developer put in all-white walls, all-white countertops and cabinets, it was a very white, very clean slate but definitely not my taste." Since everything was brand new, however, Fine said it seemed wasteful to rip it all out.
Instead she painted the walls Echo Park, a gray-green by Behr, added colorful window treatments, Portuguese-inspired bar stools, and installed oversized Spanish-style light fixtures. "People think you have to change and replace everything when you're redoing a kitchen," said Fine, "but you can actually do a lot with the decorative accessories, paint, light fixtures or even just changing out the countertop."
Keep it casual
The kitchen opens onto a family room, where Fine installed a large flat-screen TV over the fireplace and created a casual place to relax and hang out.
The couple's sectional sofa, purchased online at the Laurel & Wolf website, is upholstered in what Fine calls a high-performance, super-durable fabric: "You could spill pretty much anything on this sofa and it wipes right up."
Bookshelves from Restoration Hardware flank the fireplace and the rustic, clover-shaped coffee table is by Kathy Kuo.
"I like to think of this as our own little boutique hotel so when parents or friends come to visit they're staying in a place that feels special," she said.
"Eleanor Rigby" wallpaper by Nathan Turner was chosen to make a statement. "It's really affordable, great-looking wallpaper," said Fine, who sells the line at Laurel & Wolf. "They have the traditional wallpaper you can install, but they also have the peel-off stuff, which is great if you are renting or don't want to hire an installer."
"I love, love, love this room," Fine enthused of her master suite. "When I come in here I feel like I'm staying at the best five-star hotel ever, it's so comfy."
Comfy, and perhaps more affordable than it looks.
"A custom bed can be very expensive," said Fine. "This beautiful iron bed was on sale at Restoration Hardware, and it just needed some juh-zhing [designer speak for styling]." Fine had the headboard recovered and installed custom draperies around the canopy railings.
"Adding the drapery panels really makes it feel special."