Masterful Mixing

  • In the living room, he transforms a formerly heavy, Indonesian coffee table by swapping its carved wood base for a new, sleek metal frame. The change lightens up the space and adds a contemporary accent to the more traditional furnishings.
  • LEFT Dave is the author of several books including Daytime Drama, Male Model and Summer Cruising.
  • One way to improve styling skills is to start by producing small vignettes. This table scape features framed pieces of photography, clear and pottery vases and coral. 
  • LEFT Fluted wood lamps from Target mix handsomely with woven console table and repurposed stools. RIGHT A cozy side chair, is layered with a kidney shaped sisal pillow, 18” x 18” block print pillow and Belgian ticking stripe runner. Dave painted the blue coral artworks to add punches of colour to the white walls.
  • In the living room, two ottomans tuck neatly beneath the large coffee table, taking up little floor space but providing extra seating when required.
  • Bookshelves line the walls, providing an artistic backdrop to the predominately blue and white design scheme as well as a creative canvas for displaying objets d’art and accessories.

Nothing matches but it all goes together.

You’d expect Dave Benbow to have a well-designed life. After all, he’s a manager and buyer for one of LA’s hottest La Cienega design shops, Mecox Gardens. Naturally, his passion for work translates seamlessly into stylish living quarters.

Dabble jumped at an invitation to visit the Runyon Canyon condo and see firsthand how this “master of mixing” brings it all together.

Never ask a designer for an opinion….that is, unless you want one. Dave Benbow, like other successful decorators, says his personal design philosophy works for anyone, “Rooms should look collected, not purchased.”

But Dave is not one of those ‘anything goes’ designer types, insisting instead, “There has to be a cohesive vision.”

Certainly, quality is part of Dave’s vision. Some of the items in his home—the William Birch armchairs and down-filled sofa—are investment pieces he’s had for years. When it’s time to revitalize rooms, instead of starting from scratch, he recovers and repurposes, getting lasting value from his purchases.

According to the industry veteran, mixing price points is also part of his philosophy. “It keeps everyone guessing,” says Dave, and it’s one of his favourite ways to stretch a budget. Case in point, he pairs a high-end woven console table with well-priced lamps from Target in the dining room (see page 36).

Despite a philosophy that espouses mixing and matching, Dave is serious about starting every design project with the right floor plan. Function is first, then decorating. He relies on casual furniture (and it must be comfortable) to set the tone, typically upholstering major pieces in neutrals, then accenting with colour.

SAND, SEA, SKY

The Georgia native says he’s naturally drawn to colours that work well in his adopted LA homeland; tones that mimic sand, sea and sky. “Khaki,” he jokes, “may not be from the earth, but I live in it,” so that’s another favourite choice. A former Ralph Lauren Home employee, Dave says he appreciates the brand’s tailored colour palette and chose Ralph Lauren’s Cove Point (WW29) for walls throughout the spacious condo. Painting the cabinet backs in Shale Blue (VM124) brings white and off-white accessories into sharper focus.

“Be true to yourself. If you like it, that’s what matters.”

ARTFUL STYLING

A collection of organic-shaped vases in shades of oyster and white, stacks of books and personal photos fill the floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The artful display features a wide range of price points and changes frequently according to the designer.

Like most professional decorators, Dave doesn’t redecorate often, preferring to work with classic pieces that age well.

In the dining room, Dave searched for a fabric as comfortable as his favourite khakis. Turns out, a fashion fabric supplier had the real thing. Perfect.

“I know from experience that people keep things they don’t like because they cost a lot,” says Dave. “My advice then, is don’t spend a fortune unless you absolutely love the piece or can afford to change it down the road.”

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