Chic and Shabby

  • Undaunted by occasional design work, Sunny 'aged' a new dining table with layers of paint and strategic sanding. Rather than opting for a matching set of dining chairs, the fearless decorator selected eight mis-matched seats, allowing the dining table to play host to lingering dinner parties where friends needn’t worry about spilling a glass of wine.
  • "Nothing here is precious,” says Sunny, “it’s meant to be used.”
  • “I don’t like small things,” says Sunny, “I buy big furniture and accent with attention-getting accessories.”
  • “I dabble in collecting. I love to mix and match candlesticks, cake stands, china and glassware.”
  • The coloured bead chandelier over the gas fireplace and the dome chandelier resting on the console are two additional Shabby Chic purchases.
  • Before buying, the event planner used the statue professionally as a rental prop.
  • Rachel Ashwell’s original Shabby Chic store opened here, on Montana Avenue, in Santa Monica in 1989.
  • LEFT A graphic New York Grand Central Station typography sign from 1954.

Despite a proliferation of self-help books and TV shows which seem contrary to this opinion, not everyone struggles with decorating. DIY’er Sunny Ravanbach says, “If you stick to your personal style, know where to shop and trust your instincts, the process is enjoyable.” Visiting her lovely Santa Monica condo makes it impossible to argue with the tangible results of her personal decorating philosophy.

“I don’t think about decorating – it’s super easy for me,” says Sunny. “I know people struggle with it, but I just buy what I love and somehow it all works.” Of course, she lives enviably close to some of LA’s best design shops, including the original Shabby Chic store on nearby Montana Avenue.

“I absolutely love the simple colours and the easygoing vibe of the furniture at Shabby Chic. Although the iconic shop, which first opened its doors in 1989, is the basis for her look, Sunny wanted her home to feel more ethnic, so she’s added touches from India and Morocco. “And don’t call it country,” she insists. “It’s got its roots in elegant European design.”

An event production designer by trade, Sunny’s company White Lilac Inc. has been serving an impressive roster of discerning LA clients like Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior for more than 12 years.

“It’s true that my job is somewhat design oriented,” muses Sunny. “Maybe that makes it easier for me to jump-start my project.” She did that by purchasing the oversize coffee table.

Having done such a lovely job decorating for herself, we want to know if Sunny ever considers going pro ? “I’ve been tempted to,” she laughs, “but I get to satisfy my need to decorate on a large scale through my event planning business. That’s enough for me right now.”

Sunny Shops

Shabby Chic, Santa Monica
It’s no surprise that Shabby Chic is Sunny’s ultimate shopping experience.

Bountiful, Venice Beach
An enormous selection of glassware, mirrors, cake stands, candlesticks, artwork and distressed furniture fills the Abbott-Kinney shop.

Wertz Brothers Antiques Mall, Santa Monica
If it’s vintage or antique, you’ll likely find it here. In fact, it’s where Sunny purchased the graphic New York Grand Central Station typography sign from 1954.

Cisco Home, Brentwood
Sustainable furnishings and organic textiles are stock-in-trade at this design savvy Brentwood shop.

Anthropologie, Santa Monica
Although it’s a chain, Anthropologie is always on target with funky accessories and graphic textiles.

Santa Monica’s Top 5 Design Spots

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Beachy Chic

Interior designer Erin Mercer explores the stylish streets of Santa Monica and gains new appreciation for serious design in the laid back beach town.

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1. Linger for an hour or two at Brentwood Country Mart and make sure to save time for Calypso Home St. Barth. Global inspired furnishings and accessories are artfully displayed in the gracious setting.

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2. Design enthusiasts adore the mad mix of urban clothing and home decor at Hip’tique. Sassy pillows with expressions like ‘call your mother’ mingle with funky light fixtures and accessories. For the record, the jewelry is pretty tempting too.

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3. Let’s not squabble over technicalities. Although Urban Country and Obselete are a few steps out of Santa Monica and into Venice, they are must visit design destinations. Urban Country features a funhouse mix of vintage and industrial rarities while Obsolete’s focus is artwork and unique objets d’art. The price tags are equally serious, but design inspiration is free.

4. Owners Asher and Jessica Richter of Weego Home are rightfully proud of the locally made custom furnishings their Main Street shop brings to the ‘hood. Shopping here is rewarding and fun.

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5. It’s easy to spend the better part of a day shopping Montana Avenue. Pom Pom ranks high for casual European charm. The linen napkins, bedding and tabletop selections are exceptional.

For more about Santa Monica, visit: Dabble does Santa Monica, Issue 2 May/Jun 2011.