Spring Forward

  • Panelled walls and cofferred ceiling, were designed and installed to satisfy the clients’ craving for architecture more commonplace in stately east coast homes. The sunburst mirror is a “placeholder” to enjoy until a large scale piece of artwork is purchased.
  • Art: Oil painting by artist Michelle Armas provides a counterbalance to the geometric prints on the furniture and pillows.
  • Kitchen: The all-white kitchen gets its drama from dark stained 5” wide rift cut white oak floors, with a Rubio Monocoat oil finish. The table and Navy chairs are Restoration Hardware.
  • Dining Room: White panelled wainscotting is handsomely paired with a Phillip Jeffries grass cloth (Manila Hemp Graphite 3444). The head chairs, backed in raspberry, create a flow of colour from room to room.
  • Children's Bedroom: Fiorella likes to take her colour cues from the clients—pink and green are obviously a favourite combination for the girls (age 4 and 6) in residence.
  • Family Room: “We rotated the kitchen and removed walls so all the rooms face the back yard and pool area.”

When clients moved from Connecticut to sunny Menlo Park, it didn’t take them long to shed those extra layers required for warmth back home and embrace their new lighter California lifestyle.

The designer created a blend of east coast-west coast that would respect her client’s love for architecture with a pedigree and inject a more playful west coast palette.

The result? Springtime, year round.

Photography by Frank Paul Perez

Less is More? Which way do you Dabble?

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Sure. We can appreciate the purity of a room with no visual distractions. But we can also appreciate a room that’s actually decorated.

Who’s having more fun? The spare and disciplined? Or those who surrender to colour,  pattern and accessories?

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Which way do you Dabble?

Drama in the Bedroom

Love drama in the bedroom?

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Wait. That doesn’t sound right.

You know what we mean!

Dark walls, faux fur throw and handsome leather make this bedroom designed by LA’s Kahi Lee rugged enough for him and sexy enough for her.

How do you feel about dark walls in the bedroom? Have a fave colour?? 

Masterful Mixing

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Dave Benbow, manager and buyer for one of LA’s hottest La Cienega design shops, Mecox Gardens, has his own design philosophy: ‘Nothing matches but it all goes together.’

Dave likes to mix price points. Above, he pairs fluted wood lamps from Target with a woven console table and repurposed stools. ‘It keeps everyone guessing,’ Dave says.

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See how Dave’s approach works very well, we might add, in his stylish living quarters.

Good looks aren’t enough to impress design expert Dave Benbow. Layers mean comfort so he looks for ways to introduce them into his projects.

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To read the full article on Dave’s home tour, check out Masterful Mixing, Issue 3 Jul/Aug 2011.

Home Tour with Erinn Valencich

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We loved learning more about Erinn Valencich in our recent interview with her for Dabble’s inaugural issue. We titled the column ‘Swimming Pools and Movie Stars’ as a riff on the Beverley Hillbillies theme song, since her project was in that well known high-rent neighbourhood. Our editorial team was immediately attracted to the interior’s easy, carefree spirit as it seemed ideally suited to southern California.

As with any magazine, it’s not always possible to include every photo in a feature spread. Here are a few of the photos that didn’t make our first cut, but are nonetheless worthy of attention.

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This guest bedroom and adjacent bathroom would be a welcome sight for any guest in need of overnight accommodations. The luxury of bathing with the windows wide open is not lost to a majority of North Americans who live with cold weather temperatures.

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With everything close at hand, the office commute doesn’t have to be a long one. We love how simple, almost austere, this working space feels. Who needs distractions when deadlines are looming?

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Still another room with exquisite views to outdoors framed in ebony.

Day in the Life of Lesley Anton

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Dabble visits ceramic artist, Lesley Anton, in her 1923 Spanish-style bungalow in LA and follows her to the office for a ‘day in the life’.

Read the entire article ‘Industry Profile – Lesley Anton 4’ in Issue 9 of Dabble.

Spanish Eyes

  • Wrought iron balusters grace the foyer’s tiled staircase.
  • Various objet d’art and collectibles rest on surfaces throughout the spacious living room. A formidable and eclectic art collection adorns the room’s walls.
  • LEFT: The coffee table has a balustrade base and its top is edged in marble which surrounds a terra cotta field. RIGHT: At the bar, crystal glasses rest on a chest decorated with marquetry.
  • The panelled study enjoys uninterrupted views to the foyer and into the dining room. Its coffered ceiling creates cozy intimacy in the warm setting.
  • In the dining room, a two-tiered crystal chandelier with acanthus leaves at the crown and antique bronze fittings softly illuminates the oval table. The table is surrounded by leather-clad dining chairs with tapestry backs.
  • Looking outside to the courtyard, dinner guests catch sight of the leafy lemon trees that are poised to flower and release their delicate scent.
  • A large candle chandelier floats above the kitchen island. When the temperature heats up, family and guests move into the shade of the adjoining patio.
  • From the kitchen, doors open onto a charming patio beneath an ivy-covered archway.

Marci Valner’s Spanish Colonial style home circa 1929 is minutes from UCLA in the urban suburb of Westwood. Jockeying for a parking spot is de rigueur in this neighbourhood. We see one, grab it and remember to hang the coveted permit from the rear view mirror or—ouch—a $64 ticket is sure to be waiting upon our return.

Although the home is formally designed it’s clearly well-loved and used frequently for entertaining. Patterned chairs and serviceable sofas invite lingering in the living room. Aubusson tapestry and vintage leaf patterns adorn pillows on the velvet sofa. An antique trestle side table sits next to the William Birch arm chair with its vintage palm leaf upholstery.

In the kitchen, cool-to-the-touch terra cotta floors offer a respite from the day’s heat. White adobe plaster walls and rustic wood beams on the ceiling add to the 1920’s mood.

We are in no hurry to rush back to our parking spot and take a moment to rest on the patio’s cool tile steps.

Santa Monica Gallery

Rough Luxe

  • Floor-to-ceiling windows give way to three of Hollywood’s most famous sights: the iconic ‘Hollywood’ sign, Griffith Observatory and the conical Capitol Records Building at Hollywood and Vine.
  • A faux fur throw is the perfect addition to this black tufted leather sofa. To create the look, pair a distressed leather sofa with a luxurious faux fur throw.
  • Oversized lighting underscores the masculine drama. An “antler” chandelier shines above the dining table while a 70s grid illuminates the living room.
  • Kahi recalls, “When I started this project, everything in the room was white, My mantra is, don’t be shy about using bold colours, especially on walls. Dramatic colour creates a powerful mood.”

Rough Luxe = Distressed + Vintage + Luxury

“You’d expect to find drama in West Hollywood,” says interior designer Kahi Lee, “right?”

The photogenic LA designer is clearly ready for her close-up with this latest project for Jonas Brothers’ musician Nick, a penthouse suite that she describes as Rough Luxe.

Tasked with creating a modern masculine space, Kahi looked to Hollywood for inspiration. “Think Marlon Brando—the ultimate man’s man—elegant but rebellious.”

“I don’t do subtle,” says interior designer Kahi Lee

A handsome pair of tufted, black leather sofas dominate the living area, from their central perch on the shaggy area carpet. A large, pine topped coffee table services the seating.

An adjacent sitting area (above) gets its own star treatment with a custom designed wall covering. “It’s a splurge,” says the designer, “but it really makes a powerful statement.”

When asked, Kahi describes the condo’s style as, “Rough Luxe.” Though it’s masculine in appearance, it’s not without its glamour. Decadent touches include the faux fur throw on the living room sofa and the grass cloth covered walls with just a hint of iridescent sheen.

At Home with Suzanne Rheinstein

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Looking stylish in a black linen ensemble and chunky gold bangles, renowned LA-based interior designer Suzanne Rheinstein takes Kimberley Seldon on a private tour of her gracious Hancock Park home and garden.

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Suzanne’s living room is luxurious and serene. She spotted the blue and white striped Regency chaise in a London shop window and insisted her husband pull over so they could run in to make the purchase.

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‘I design rooms clients can live in, and in this house we live in the family room’, says the designer. We can see why. Who wouldn’t want to relax on that cozy velvet-striped sofa with some late night reading?

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Natural lighting, soft hues and luxurious cotton print drapes accent the elegance of the master bedroom.

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To read the full article on Suzanne Rheinstein, check out Industry Profile, Issue 3 July/Aug 2011.

Santa Monica Travel Guide

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Smitten with sun, sand and surf? Then pack your bags and grab your sunscreen. Dabble’s team agrees, Santa Monica is a traveller’s triple threat: coastal chic, healthful eats and an urban beat.Santa Monica’s iconic pier is a colourful backdrop to the city’s liberal politics, healthful living and laid back beach style. We hit the streets, boardwalk and sand to discover what makes this urban beach town tick.

Stay

Picking a single hotel is difficult thanks to outstanding local choices. Ultimately, a design crush on Kelly Wearstler sways us towards the Viceroy Santa Monica with its eye-popping colour and near-beach location. The pool side cabanas are a perfect place to linger after a leisurely day shopping.

Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel offers a beach side seat near the fire place and a perfect ending to an LA day. The Huntley Penthouse bar gets an honorable mention for its great view and the fun atmosphere for a GNO (girls’ night out).

Shutters on the Beach is hand’s down the best lobby bar in all of LA. Relaxing on comfy sofas, listening to the house pianist and watching sun-dipped patrons is pure bliss. Although it’s a splurge to spend the night, seaside views are unparalleled.

Eat

Main Street has an easy-going vibe that makes a leisurely day wandering the shops feel like a vacation. Take a seat in the outdoor courtyard at The World Cafe and you’ll feel transported to somewhere exotic. Try the poached pear salad.

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day is off to a good start at Cora’s Coffee Shoppe. Sit under the bougainvillea canopy and order the orange pancakes. Huckleberry’s location on Wilshire is not nearly as picturesque, but there’s ample parking in back and the sauteed spinach and roasted potatoes with sunnyside up eggs are divine.

Two out of three dabble contributor’s agree, the Gruyere and spicy mayo burger from Father’s Office is the best they’ve ever eaten. The place is always jumping and you’ll have to share a table, but it’s a great night out. Just don’t ask for ketchup. They don’t have any.

If you’re on a budget, check out Veggie Grill and try the yummy sweet potato fries and vegan Bali Bliss, an Indonesian style tempeh, grilled with chipotle ranch sauce.

Shop

Wander off the main shopping streets and there is still more to see. Make sure to visit Fred Segal on Broadway with its over-the-top housewares section (celebrity spottings are practically guaranteed). On Ocean Avenue take a break from gazing at the ocean to shop at Carlyle Design, which is tucked behind garden gates. The furniture is large scale and nicely tailored without fussiness. They have a great selection of Indian and Turkish style coffee tables and enough small accessories that you’re sure to find something to squeeze into your suitcase.

Fresh fish rules at Santa Monica Seafood Company, a family-owned business since 1939. A retail space, oyster bar, indoor/outdoor cafe and over 70 varieties of fish on ice makes us giddy. Do park in the rear as empty meters are ticketed frequently.

See

Impressive doesn’t begin to describe the hilltop setting or extensive collections at the world famous Getty Center. Richard Meier’s architectural masterpiece is clad in cleft-cut travertine and features a curvilinear design that wanders through a variety of natural gardens. Admission is free but you do need to make a reservation.

Originally a stop on the now-defunct Red Line trolley, Bergamot Station is currently a groovy arts centre with 30 plus galleries, shops, a museum and cafe. Free general admission.

Do

Lining the walls at Salute Wine Bar, is a most unusual sight, an adult version of a soda fountain that dispenses — wait for it — wine samples. A prepaid card lets you choose from 40 different bottles. The martinis are mighty fine too.

The Santa Monica Pier ought to have a star on the walk of fame, it’s been in so many movies: Forrest Gump and The Sting to name two. And, did you know solar panels drive the eco-concious ferris wheel by day, and 160,000 LEDs light it up Hollywood-style by night?

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.”