Before & After: See how the ‘Red Queen’ author reimagined her dream home
A beaming Victoria Aveyard is sitting at her desk inside the Santa Monica Cape Cod-style home she purchased in 2017, surrounded by pink and gray floral wallpaper, soft shades and furnishings, and her beloved yellow Labrador, Indy (short for Indiana Jones).
“My office has become my creative haven,” says Aveyard, 29. “I love having a feminine office. I feel good being in here. The long hours at the desk are a little more bearable because of the beauty around me.”
The bestselling author of the “Red Queen” young adult fantasy series saw plenty of promise in the trendy modern farmhouse, a newly completed five-bedroom home with an open floor plan, abundant natural light and pale hardwood floors that promised to work well for Indy.
“Like any millennial, I bought the house for my dog,” Aveyard says with a self-deprecating laugh.
It was also an endless mass of white walls and shiplap, devoid of personality.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
To help reconceive the home, Aveyard hired Santa Monica interior designer Christine Markatos Lowe to give the cookie-cutter house the “English cottage-meets-California beach house” ambiance she wanted.
“Victoria is young and has an ethereal, slightly old soul,” Lowe says. “The first time we met, she told me, ‘I love old Scottish houses and the meticulously styled sets of Nancy Meyers films.’ She also loved traditional things like Farrow & Ball wallpaper. Her taste was not modern and cold.”
Lowe’s objective was to create feminine and youthful spaces for Aveyard and her roommates Tori Ahl and Morgan Bowser. (A third roommate, Jen Rohrs, departed when she married.) “In college, I was lucky enough to find my three best friends,” Aveyard said. “When I bought my home a few years ago, keeping us all together seemed like a no-brainer. I also work in a very solitary field. It’s easy to get lost. Having these three incredible women around has been essential. They keep me healthy, connected and much happier than I would be living alone.”
The makeover involved adding function to the rooms that felt unfinished. “There were places that didn’t have doors,” Aveyard says.
Aveyard started with a Pinterest page, and after she and Lowe went through the process of sharing and choosing wallpaper, the color scheme emerged. “It was never ‘the house is going to be pink and blue,’” Lowe says. “Victoria loved color and the boldness of pattern.”
Lowe brought in feminine touches by adding fabric and wallpaper “to tell a story” and balanced the patterns by keeping furnishings and shapes simple.
In the wallpapered foyer, a full-length mirror hanging on a wall reflects two floors of hand-blocked wallpaper in a blue chestnut pattern by British designer Marthe Armitage, 90. “It was traditional but in a color palette that felt like a young person,” Lowe says.
A custom settee at the foot of the stairs, upholstered in contrasting blue-and-white fabrics with a dainty scalloped edge piped with pink, provides further pattern as well as a cozy seating area in what would have been empty space. The different shades of blue and the alternating patterns are traditional but not stuffy; respectful of the young homeowner and her sense of fun and love of parties.
Pastels continue throughout the house and complement the home’s simple architectural details, including dusty pink in the living and dining rooms, blue carpeting on the stairs, and drapes in pale geometric fabric.
Past the dramatic foyer, Lowe installed blue grass cloth on the ceiling of the kitchen and family room to tone down the white shiplap. “That is one of the best things you can do for your money,” Lowe says. “It transformed the room and the view as you’re standing there.”
Balancing casual comfort with traditional elegance, Aveyard’s interiors are a colorful mix of antique rugs and kilims, catalog-purchased items, flea-market finds, and contemporary furnishings upholstered in the same golden tones as Indy, who sheds regularly.
In a budget move, Lowe kept the L-shaped desk in Aveyard’s office along with two elegant velvet office chairs from CB2. And instead of spending money on new drapes, Lowe altered the white linen Pottery Barn drapes that Aveyard had already purchased for four rooms by adding lining, tape trim and pleats to give the soft furnishings a more tailored look.
Lowe solved the home’s functional faults by adding cabinets in the entry and office; linen storage; a built-in bar in the living room; and an entertainment center in the family room where the roommates watch television.
Upstairs, a muted palette continues in the serene master suite, where Lowe installed pale geometric wallpaper, blue accents, and traditional curtains and soft shades with blue trim.
A year after graduating from USC with a degree in screenwriting, Aveyard wrote her first novel on the coffee table of her parents’ home in Massachusetts. Today, the author feels lucky to be able to work on her next book, which will be published in 2021, from her first house, where she keeps 9-to-5 hours.
“The office was really important to me,” she says. “It helps to want to sit in there. It has positive energy, which really facilitates my work.”
Bathed in pink and gray, the office walls are lined with Wisteria wallpaper by Farrow & Ball, which adds glamour and sophistication to the sunny space. A pretty bulletin board lined with gray geometric fabric serves as an elegant accent, while a no-nonsense whiteboard nearby details the plot for her next novel. Furnishings — including a pink love seat and a soft cream cotton rug by Dash & Albert — indicates the comfortable office is more than just a place to work.
“It’s cliché to say Christine turned my house into a home, but it’s certainly true,” Aveyard says. “The space has completely transformed from a cold, alien structure into something that feels like my own. Every room is a delight and a place I want to be. It’s feminine, it’s cozy, it’s bright and lovely, but still very much livable. I gave a very small bull’s-eye, and Christine nailed it.”
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