A Change of SpaceAuthor:Abigail Stone
Studio Life/Style reinvigorates a Spanish Revival home in Santa Monica
A home with a distinct architectural style can feel constricting, seeming to draw strong boundaries around how its interiors should be handled. Floating the idea that it’s possible to work “against type” can be catnip to those who’ve been living in a home for a long time and are looking for a way to invigorate it with a fresh perspective. Certainly that proved true for the owners of this Spanish Revival home in Santa Monica. They yearned for a new attitude, something bold and masculine, modern and sculptural, that would put an inspiring, lyrical spin on the home’s Mediterranean vibe. Friends suggested they meet with Studio Life/Style. It was a meeting of the minds that proved to be fortuitous.
“They’d done a remodel once,” remembers Shannon Wollack, Studio Life/Style’s cofounder and partner. “It was very heavy and they wanted to give it more of a contemporary, updated look with fun, artful moments and a moodier vibe that felt artfully curated.”
While the wife leaned toward the traditional, the husband pushed for more edge. Rather than choosing a side, Wollack and her colleagues on the project—her partner, Brittany Zwickl, and designers Lexie Sokolow and Niki Sanico—aimed at skillfully balancing the two styles to create spaces that were contemporary and impactful but still welcoming. Witness the kitchen, where a quintessential white color scheme and classic Shaker cabinetry are elevated by an aged brass hood, an oblong pendant from Urban Electric Co. hangs over the island and there is a vividly veined Calacatta Oro Gold Borghini marble backsplash, outlined in a sliver of brass trim that echoes the hanging fixture’s trim. “The trick is making the house not feel like too much of a departure so it’s not like they’re walking into a completely unknown home,” Wollack shares, addressing the balancing act that is inherent in renovating a well-loved space. “So it needed to feel homey, cohesive, welcoming and family-friendly.”
Rooms that had previously been neglected, like the home’s formal living and dining rooms, now reverberate with life. “Those types of rooms don’t always get used,” Zwickl explains. Studio Life/Style’s revisions give these spaces a touch of drama worthy of their position at the front of the house.
Witness the living room, now a moody lounge where the husband loves to host friends. “We wanted to make it super masculine and funky and a big departure from what was there before,” Zwickl says. A full bar setup along one wall, including plush swivel stools by (wh)ORE HAüS STUDIOS, allows the dark charcoal-inflected space to contrast with the nearby dining room, which is papered in a floral Holly Hunt grasscloth. “We wanted the dining room to have a pattern in it and for it to stand in contrast to the living room, which is more his style, but in a way that felt understated and approachable and feminine,” Wollack explains. The dining table they designed, with its stocky base and a built-in lazy Susan, anchors the room’s insouciant glamour.
The basement, another neglected area, was transformed into a theater; the couple’s children have claimed it as their own. “They’re down there all the time,” says Zwickl. Custom sofas upholstered in a rust velvet, wall-to-wall carpet, banquettes circling the room’s perimeter and fabric-covered walls confirm its louche appeal. Even the home’s well-worn spaces have found new life. The breakfast nook amps up the cozy factor with an inviting and expansive custom curved red leather banquette. The enticement of the family room has been magnified by thoughtfully designed wall paneling, which conceals the stairs to the primary suite and to the basement. The rich white oak is complemented by a fireplace refaced in dark gray marble.
Upstairs, a bed, tucked into a built-in that also includes a desk, turns a high school freshman’s bedroom into something sophisticated. “Originally the client was thinking about bunk beds,” says Wollack. “But then she thought it should be something more grown-up.” An inspiration image sparked the idea of an arch. “And it ties in nicely with the original style of the home.”
The team also settled on a built-in for the primary suite, extrapolating the design from the clients’ love of hotels. “They travel a lot and they wanted something very clean and contemporary,” says Wollack. The walnut unit takes advantage of the room’s high ceilings, showcasing pendants by Allied Maker and hiding the tangle of cords that accompany modern life. “Built-ins are kind of our bread-and-butter at Studio Life/ Style,” Zwickl shares. Paired with the gray and brown color scheme, it underlines the serenity of the spare yet warm design. “A lot of the work was in figuring out, ‘Who are these clients? What are their habits?’ and then homing in on that,” says Wollack. Studio Life/ Style scores a bullseye.