Di Zock teamed up with her best friend to create a Venice Beach cottage that is perfect for alfresco living
One owner put zingy shades and bold patterns to good use in her cosy Californian cottage
Di Zock was living and working near Venice Beach in Los Angeles and had no intention of moving house when her best friend Jonathan King called to tell her about a cottage that that he had heard would be coming on to the market. ‘He felt it was too good an opportunity to miss and asked if I’d like to work on the project with him,’ says Di. ‘ We agreed that he’d buy the cottage, we’d renovate it together, and then I’d rent it back from him. Since the interior needed complete remodelling, we also enlisted the help of our mutual friend, architect Tom Carson.’
The three friends agreed that the main priority was to reconfigure the layout, to make the rooms feel lighter and more spacious, and to improve access to the garden – a must-have for Di, who is a landscape architect by profession. ‘There were lots of small rooms, only one bathroom and a dark, enclosed storage room at the back,’ says Di. ‘Although we retained the original footprint, the interior was stripped right back to the bare stud walls.’
The main bedroom was enlarged by knocking out the wall to the storage room, and French doors leading to the garden were installed. ‘This made a big difference, as access to the garden was previously so limited,’ says Di. ‘ We also raised the height of the ceilings and installed skylights. This changed the feel of the house dramatically, making it more open and light, and more connected to the outdoors.’ Di opted to redesign the garden herself, as she wanted to create a set of outdoor ‘rooms’. ‘I’m continually
inspired by California’s incredible landscape and knew I wanted to use all of my favourite plants,’ she says.
Di’s friend and neighbour Mox Moeschler was engaged to carry out the building work, which took nine months. With the structural works complete, it was time to design the decor. Di chose a blue-toned palette, with ceramics, upholstery and soft furnishings in shades ranging from deepest lapis through to cerulean and teal. ‘I’ve always gone through phases where I’m very much into a colour and can’t seem to create schemes that don’t involve using that colour at the time,’ she says. ‘ While we were working here, I was going through a blue phase!’
Her passion for blue in all its various shades aside, the cottage is the perfect showcase for Di’s eclectic tastes. ‘I tend to prefer more contemporary furniture, but the interior of this cottage is a blend of improvisation and gifts from family, mixed with a bit of thrift storing,’ she says. Her father built two low side tables for her, and her mother contributed a mosaic-topped table featuring a rooster design. ‘I love it because it’s so beautiful, whimsical and stylish, and because she created it,’ says Di.
Di then focused on the garden. ‘The great thing about living in southern California is the amazing climate, and I wanted to make the most of that,’ she says. ‘I’ve created a sight-line that runs through all the outdoor rooms by using the same blue encaustic tiles and a similar colour palette for the garden furniture. When the sun goes down, it’s the perfect space for outdoor entertaining.’
decorating tip‘ Keep things personal–my favourite homes feel like they are a reflection of the owner’
main bedroom Floral bedding and green accents add to the restful feel. The Oliver metal bed frame has the same look, £549, Feather & Black. Gabrielle bedding, £59, Marks & Spencer, would work well here
Gue s t bathroom moroccan-style tiling makes a statement in this compact bathroom for visitors. Scintilla Sapphire tiles, £29.95sq m, Walls and Floors, would also work well here. Odensvik/ Hemnes vanity unit, £250, Ikea, is similar. Blue bird bone inlay mirror, £255, Iris Furnishing, has the look of this one
Garden Whitewashed walls and large succulent plants create a Mediterranean feel. Harmen outdoor wooden table, £244, and bench, £148, Rowen & Wren.com, are similar. Antibes Green chalk paint, £19.95 for 1L, Annie Sloan, would also work well as a wall colour here. Garden design by Di Zock Design, price on application