Monday, December 15, 2008

House Voyeur: Viva Glam in Venice Beach

Many of you have seen interior designer Vanessa De Vargas's Venice Beach, California home before: It's been featured in Sunset magazine and made appearances on several blogs (including this one). But Vanessa recently made over her 1920s-era bungalow from top to bottom. "When you're a designer, you can't stop," she laughs.

Here, Vanessa gives us a virtual tour of her recently refreshed home:

"The architecture here is relatively plain, and when I moved in ten years ago the house was sort of a blank canvas, but with a bit of that vintage character. Luckily, my landlady lets me do whatever I want! My style is a mix of vintage and modern. I'm really drawn to Chinoiserie -- I just can't let go of it! It's more of a glam-y look, but it's pretty eclectic, too. I have bamboo, wood, ceramic, painted, and gold and silver finishes. Somehow, it all works together.

For the last few years, I was in my 'dark period' (the photo above is of my living room before the redesign). I had dramatic chocolate and charcoal walls and intense wallpapers. This time, I just wanted something new and fresh. I was going for a 'beachy Chinoiserie' feel, and wanted to make my space more cozy and bring in more color.

I really challenged myself to play with color, so you see more greens, cool blues, turquoise, and yellow in my home now. Painting the walls a warm off-white (Benjamin Moore's Swiss Coffee) allowed me use more vivid color in the furnishings and accent pieces. Before, the darkness of the walls sort of forced me to choose lighter furniture. I moved almost everything in the house to my retail business, and started from scratch. I lacquered these vintage cabinets in Benjamin Moore's Traffic Light Green. I've noticed that a lot of the colors in my furnishings are also in my clothes. For awhile there, every piece of clothing I bought was emerald green!

When you live in a small space -- my home is only 550 square feet -- you have to think about the scale of the things you have, and what furniture will compliment the room and not overwhelm it. It really helps to measure your space -- the floors, walls, windows, doorways -- and take those measurements with you when you go shopping so you don't fall in love with something before realizing that it won't work.

I tend to choose smaller-scale pieces: occasional chairs instead of bigger armchairs in the living room, for instance, and the petite lamps above, which aren't out of scale with relatively small cabinets they're on. By the way, these lamps are from JCPenney. You'd be amazed at the great stuff they have there. But don't tell anyone -- it's my secret source." (Sorry, Vanessa. I guess the cat's out of the bag now!)

"The living room looks luxurious, but the materials I used are actually really durable: The couch is upholstered in microsuede, the chairs in a zebra-print vinyl, and the rug (from Pottery Barn) is seagrass. The drapes are from IKEA; I added Greek key trim to give them a more finished look. The black pillow is vintage, and the fabric on the blue pillow is from Lewis & Sharon. I didn't want to wallpaper the whole room, so I used black and white wallpaper from Ferm Living as an accent on either side of the window.

Because it's a smaller space, I was looking for see-through, breathable furniture. I didn't want anything boxy or bulky. The Lucite side tables are by Jordan Cappella, and the glass nesting tables are really versatile. They originally had a gold-toned finish, and I just spray-painted it silver.

This is the dining area in my kitchen. I painted the floor (which had been black) white and used stools around my vintage Burke table instead of chairs. They're great -- they slip under the table when they're not in use and help maintain an open, airy look in the room.

As you can tell, most of my furniture is vintage. Professional reupholstering and refinishing can be pricey. But if you see something at the flea market or a garage sale that has great lines and that you can make over yourself -- doing basic sanding, staining, or painting, or perhaps recovering seat cushions -- you'll save a lot and end up with some great pieces.

I got the throw blanket on my bed at Old Navy ages ago. The seagrass rug is from Pier 1, the zebra-print rug from Urban Outfitters, and the bedding and curtains from IKEA. I painted the walls China Blue from Benjamin Moore.

To get a more custom look, I covered a basic headboard in Alexander Henry fabric. The throw pillows are made with fabric from Lulu DK. The lamps are vintage; to find similar ones, search 'Blanc de Chine' on eBay.

This was a basic IKEA cabinet that I painted black and added simple molding and crystal knobs to create a paneled look.

My advice: When you have a decorating project of your own, do your research. If you don't know what your style is, pull images that appeal to you from blogs and magazines -- and be sure to check out international design magazines, too. Take photos of things that catch your eye when you're out. Then create a binder or file of your collected images. You'll discover when you look through it that you're drawn to certain things over and over, and your style will become clear. Most importantly, fill your home with things that you love."

Thanks so much for sharing your incredible house with us, Vanessa! (Click here to see more of her design work.) I, for one, am totally inspired by the way Vanessa has created such a luxe space with relatively bargain materials. Who says you can't live large on a budget?

3 comments:

anh-minh said...

I love her place! I would gladly live in her before or after. Both are gorgeous.

Sweet Nothings said...

This house is gorg! I fell in love in the Apartment Therapy book, and it made my heart flutter a bit today!

JORDAN CAPPELLA said...

Vanessa has an amazing talent that continues to grow. She is an Iconic LA designer.

 

©Copyright 2007-2014 More Ways To Waste Time and Leah Hennen. All Rights Reserved.