An Introduction to Venice Beach Cellar Style

If you take a look at history, both recent and ancient, you'll find that things rarely go according to plan. My great grandmother taught me to always prepare for the worst. "At any moment," she'd wheeze in between smoker's coughs, "everything can go wrong, so make sure you're prepared because that rainy day IS coming." And, as any wise woman knows, she was more than 100% correct.

Everyday speed bumps have this annoying tendency to evolve into immovable cement walls that only get higher unless you power through those suckers with a heavy-duty jackhammer. Luckily for me, I keep one in my backseat.

We began taking staging jobs a little over a year ago and quickly discovered two things: 

1. They're a tremendous opportunity for an interior decorator to flex his or her design muscles up and down a blank canvas. 

2. They're a real pain in the ass. 

Everything has an upside and a downside. Have we been blessed with our dream job? Yes.

Yes.

Are we allowed to thrift, and pick, and refinish, and organize unique Southern California living spaces so potential buyers are able to envision a new life within the walls?

Yes.

But...we've also had to decorate 5,000 square feet in four hours. We've had to haul grand pianos up three flights of stairs. And we've had the cops called on us because nobody passed along the information of the house's alarm system.

That last example was a particularly unfortunate instance, which resulted in my lead designer on the front lawn beside a half-loaded pickup truck with his hands in the air shouting at the officer, "If you're going to shoot me just don't do it while I'm carrying the vintage chaise because the tufting is a real pain to clean!"  

And they say good help is hard to find... 

In any event, these blank houses and all the sweat that goes into them have given us more headaches than handshakes, but when it's all said and done and the last vase is filled with flowers...it makes it all worth it. 

 

When it comes to kitchen decor, outside of appliances and cabinet construction, it's all about the details. We used vintage wooden and wicker boxes for countertop storage and added a handmade ivory and red Turkish towel as an all purpose kitchen towel.

The dining area in this space wasn't all that large. We placed a modest, frosted glass table top with some eye-catching wired dining chairs with what little room was available. With some blown, turquoise glass bottles and handmade distressed wall art to keep in the theme of "by the water" we were able to create an area big enough for those Sunday morning feasts and quaint enough for Monday morning coffee. 

We loved the way these whites played so well with the rich natural wood color so, with some reclaimed wood we built a short "S" shelf and styled it with amber apothecary bottles, vintage books and a vintage chest. To distract from the hideous wall-heater, we reupholstered a wing back chair with white linen and added an African mud cloth pillow for accent. Top it all off with a hand painted rustic wooden sign along with a vintage pinwheel coffee table, and you got yourself a living room. 

Beach houses tend to run small, and this one was no different...especially the bedrooms. This particular one (which normally would have been a child's room, we decided to turn into a simple study/guest bedroom. Note: Any room becomes a guest bedroom as long as the sofa pulls out into a bed. 

We refinished a second-hand dresser for storage along with an ancient leather trunk that looked like it had been to hell and back but frankly only made it cooler. For color, we employed our favorite African mud cloth pillows and throws and in lieu of wall art hung another up on a decorative curtain rod (a creative and cost effective remedy for blank walls).

The master bedroom was a simple matter of muted gray and white bedding at the top and then knock 'em out with color at the foot. On the nightstand, we used one of our vintage lamps complete with our lampshades made out of Turkish towels. For wall art, we kept it symmetrical and consistent by hanging matching beach photos by the amazing photographer, Shawn Ferjac.  

We're going to be bringing you the ins and the outs the ups and the downs of what it's really like to be an interior designer, because trust me, it's not all Pinterest posts and shabby-chic how-tos. It's mostly just grunting when they tell you there are another four rooms up yet ANOTHER flight of stairs, but there's nothing more satisfying than our finished product. Espcially when the rooms look like this.