Decor with a West Coast vibe
There’s no single definition of California style: The state’s design sensibilities are as varied and interesting as its geography and climate.
You can get a Cali vibe going in lots of different directions.
For instance, moody colors and a connection with the temperate, coniferous forests of Northern California characterize that region’s look. Think weathered woods, leathers, and boreal forest and coastal hues like indigo, dark green and stone.
Southern California’s a mix of surf-culture casual and movie-studio glamour. Channel the sun and sand with beachy, “retro-modern” hues (deep aqua, coral, sand) and reclaimed materials. Spacy midcentury modern furnishings in hot orange, white, turquoise and fireball red add punch.
“For me, quintessential ‘California Style’ is laidback, hip and happy. Our gorgeous natural light is the star, and we support it with breezy fabrics, natural textures and a relaxed vibe,” says Kim Myles, Los Angelesbased winner of HGTV’s “Design Star.”
Her tips for aspiring Cali-cool decorators: “The key is to keep it casual. California style is the opposite of uptight, so step away from high-maintenance fabrics and fussy finishes. Simplicity is your friend. One large statement — a single wall of color or a beautifully patterned rug — supported by low-key furnishings is more Cali than a room full of fussy clutter.”
For that statement hue, consider Farrow & Ball’s “Yellowcake,” ‘’St. Giles Blue,” ‘’Arsenic” and “Charlotte’s Locks,” as well as Benjamin Moore’s “China White” and “Fresno.” (www.farrowball.com ; www. benjaminmoore.com )
Modernica stocks a selection of Eames-style fiberglass chairs and George Nelson lighting designs. (www.modernica.net )
Wicker and rattan are great materials for taking advantage of — or just evoking — the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. CB2’s Nest coffee table and Fray pendant fixture bring natural textures home. (www.cb2.com )
One of Myles’ favorite sources is Black Hill Design, a furniture studio in Tucson, Arizona. Their hefty yet sophisticated wood lamps, and coffee tables like the lithe, muscular Catalina have a crafted coolness. Jake Scott, Black Hill’s founder, thinks it’s the simplicity of his pieces that attracts Californians.
“The West Coast has that easy sensibility about it. Many Californians are inherently connected with nature because of the topography of the state,” he says. “I think my pieces reflect some of that. .... Simple, strong materials with adherence toward a single form.” (www.blackhilldesign.com )
You could go more glamorous with Z Gallerie, the California-based décor retailer. Beveled glass rectangles frame a chic mirror, while a comfy white leather chair is framed in gold plated steel. (www. zgallerie.com )
If you’ve ever watched an episode of Bravo’s “Flipping Out,” which features Los Angeles designer Jeff Lewis’ renovation projects, you’ll recognize the name HD Buttercup, a furnishings retailer that Lewis often visits with clients. They’ve got an online store too, with pieces like the Alain walnut sideboard with hooped, forged-metal legs; the channel-quilted Martin salon chair; and contemporary Indian rugs. (www.hdbuttercup.com )
Pan-Pacific elements are part of California’s design DNA. As Menlo Park designer Rise Krag puts it, “We’re on a coast that shares tides with Asia, and there’s always been a fusion of Eastern design elements and philosophy.”
Krag’s mother used to buy Asian rugs, trunks, cloisonné and other objects in San Francisco. Krag incorporates singular pieces like a stepped, Japanese tansu chest with contemporary décor.
Check out Spot on Square, a Californiabased furniture design studio, for its hip, spare Hiya toddler bed, crafted of ecofriendly birch and white MDF board. The Los Angeles design shop Bend Goods interprets a traditional captain’s chair in a new way, using powder-coated or metal plated iron. (www.aplusrstore.com )
Designer Jake Scott’s Arbol Lamp, crafted of walnut with brass fittings, is meant to evoke the elemental beauty and strength of the tree.
Kim Myles shows a living room by L.A.based designer, Myles. Myles says color is a big element of California style — the colors of the sea, sand, sky, trees and flowers.