Pro Portfolio: Merging his-and-hers decorating styles in a traditional Nichols Canyon home


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Every Monday, we post a newly built, remodeled or redecorated home presented in the designer’s own words. This week:

Location: Nichols Canyon, Hollywood Hills

Interior designer: Kristi Nelson, KMNelson Design


Project goal: To create warm, welcoming interiors on a budget for a family with contrasting design sensibilities

Designer’s description: The client arrived in Los Angeles with toddler in tow, second child on the way and the need for a house with easy access to good public schools. A home that matched the family’s lifestyle needs was more important than architectural pedigree. He loved Danish modern and contemporary lines. She had an affinity for traditional interiors.

They settled on a charming 1930s English cottage with spectacular views and an ideal location. I was hired to update the home’s tired exterior and shabby-not-so-chic 1970s-styled interiors. I not only overhauled the living room and dining room from floor to ceiling before the birth of child No. 2, but also furnished and accessorized the remaining interiors during the next three years. Stage 2 of our renovations included a complete remodel of the downstairs -- master bedroom, kids room, playroom, staircase, entry -- and refurbishing the exterior.

For interiors that were stylish, inviting and family-centric, I built upon the best elements of what they had and added new pieces in juxtaposing styles for an eclectic, yet true representation of their combined aesthetic.

Our starting point was an antique French bookcase, an antique oriental rug, a porcelain lamp, a vintage reproduction Chippendale dining table with four chairs (one broken), a couple of contemporary black-and-white framed photos and a framed African textile they had bought for $5 (now hanging above the couch).

With budget a factor, I guided the clients to invest in timeless, well-built items that would endure family life and create the most impact. Design dollars were spent on durable, pretty chair fabrics that the client wouldn’t get tired of and on quality transitional pieces that could be moved into traditional or contemporary rooms over the years.


I kept the window treatments simple with budget-friendly fabrics in paisley print panels in the dining room and living room and used sheers for practicality and fullness. Bamboo shades provided durability, style and texture to the den. That room was updated with rich colors on the walls and on the back of the bookcase, which also got different knobs.

I like using color, mostly on walls, but in this project vibrant accent colors on upholstery speak to who the clients are -- dynamic and engaging. To see more, keep reading ...

Bright orange and scarlet red accents are layered throughout a room of neutral beige tones.

This room’s interior architecture highlights the panoramic hillside view but posed a challenge in choosing window treatments. To remedy the poor window-to-wall height proportions on the left wall, I used false Roman shades to create the illusion of height and make that window appear taller and more elegant.

The wallpaper with large-scale flowers is from Osborne & Little. The chartreuse bedding, scarlet accessories and zebra rug are mean to bring bring contemporary warmth to a quaint master bedroom. The end tables flanking the bed for balance are actually Danish Modern.

I incorporated a practical and inexpensive antique Chinese cabinet from an import store on La Cienega Boulevard instead of a buffet. A pair of Japanese wood block prints from the client’s collection complement are meant to provide a counterpoint to the vintage Queen Anne-style dining set.

The dining table, chairs and antique Persian rug from the family’s personal collection are updated with contemporary fabrics from Osborne & Little and a George Nelson saucer pendant lamp from Design Within Reach. In the adjacent den, the inside of the bookshelves are painted a deep eggplant hue contrasted with crisp, white woodwork and soft, sage green walls.

Knowing that the existing Sherle Wagner pedestal sink was valuable and that the powder room would be viewed every time some entered the home (see photo at top of post), I decided to make the walls graphic, almost gallery like. The artisan wall finish was achieved by layering silver, pewter and antique gold glazes and metallic paints.

A selection of materials and objects in the entry serve as a preview of what’s to come. Items include a ‘70s bone mirror, the client’s EBay find; contemporary lighting fixtures that can be found at Horchow and Lamps Plus (also see photo at top of post); a sisal runner; an ethnic prayer rug; a Chinese umbrella stand from the Uniquities consignment store in Brentwood; and a metal console from Crate & Barrel.

-- Compiled by Lisa Boone

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