A European vacation sounds pretty good right now, doesn’t it? Well, imagine living in one. That’s the vibe Los Angeles-based designer Sarah Solis wanted to channel for her clients, a young family of three, with the parents both fixtures in the entertainment industry. The Spanish-inspired home, based in Hancock Park, already had some great architecture to work with, but previous owners had covered some of the original details, like the exposed beams and some of the arches. “They’re such a young, artistic family,” says Solis of her clients. “They wanted a home that had a more Mediterranean villa feel, to get in touch with their creativity.”
To start, Solis saw that the main living room had a beautiful plaster fireplace, but the owners had stripped away the original tile. “We sourced some antique Mediterranean hand-painted tile to bring back the architectural integrity of the Spanish and Mediterranean homes of the 1920s,” she says. The home had original arches, but Solis worked to add some more—particularly at the entrance of the home and as a pathway between rooms, to pay homage to the architecture of the time.
“I think the most important thing when designing is to tell a story,” says Solis, who uses an intuitive approach when it comes to styling a home. Using a mix of rich colors, woods, velvets, metal, and tile, she creates a cohesive, yet colorful home that screams both comfort and elegance. “Texture completely affects the experience in a home,” she emphasizes.
For instance, velvet red sofas in the living room bring a sense of luxury, while the leather chairs in the dining area seem a bit more formal. The kitchen exudes casual elegance with the wood and metal combo, while the bedroom has an ethereal vibe due to the soft linens and subtle patterning used throughout. By combining a series of materials throughout the space, she creates a home perfect for both entertaining and relaxing, all at once. “If a color is really strong, the use of the materials is what helps soften it up a bit,” says Solis of her design ethos. “Like the bright red sofa in the living room—I think making it a velvet helped tone it down a bit. It makes it more luxe for sure, but also more inviting.”
Another way to make the home really inviting? Artwork, of course! “My clients wanted the home to be visionary, as a tribute to their artistic background,” says Solis. “It was of the utmost importance that everything felt artful and inspiring, but livable. We don’t want it to be too precious; we want to create a thread of relaxation throughout the space.” Solis therefore sourced interesting, original artwork in practically every room that played with the same colors used in the rooms themselves. Each picture serves as a scene, and uses generous paints to bring more depth to each space.
And of course, with the home being in California, indoor-outdoor living was an absolute must. “The home gets so much natural light for one, and we really needed to make use of that,” says Solis. To control the level of lighting in the space, Solis used layered window treatments of woven shades with a fabric on top, which allowed for an earthy, organic touch, while still giving the clients agency in how much light they let in. Similarly, the massive copper tub in the bathroom faces the sunlight to bring more of the outside in, and the exterior seating and fountain area uses the same textures and tile as the interiors to make it look cohesive. “The best part of designing this space was being able to add those little details that really bring the rooms to life,” adds Solis. “Small touches can elevate the space.”
From restoring the fireplace with antique Mediterranean tile to sourcing hand-dyed Japanese textiles for the pillows, everything in this space was hand selected to tell a story and to juxtapose tradition and a more modern perspective.
“I try to bring wood elements into every room,” says Solis. “So, when designing the kitchen I knew I wanted this beautiful walnut island that really sets this space apart from most.”
Instead of a traditional coffee table, Solis picked a plush, patterned ottoman to serve as the focal point.
This space is tonally more neutral than the rest of the house because Solis wanted it to be a solid place for conversations—aka, no distractions. Instead, the artwork draws most of the attention.
Lighter textures still reveal comfort and pattern, but the use of simple black and white designs lend a delicate vibe to the room.
Working within the footprint of a bathroom built in the 1930s was difficult, but by eliminating a vanity and opting for individual pedestal sinks, Solis managed to fit everything the clients had asked for—for including a freestanding tub, walk in shower, and private toilet room.
“I wanted this room to showcase the client’s collection of art from his travels, and be a cool space for him to relax and work,” says Solis. Open wood shelving and a patterned rug lend personality to this creative area.
By updating the existing fountain with Moroccan zellige and adding a built-in bench, Solis created a serene space that ties in the home’s overall aesthetic.
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