Best Guest


Christine Markatos Lowe reimagines a staid guest house as a colorful club house with a soothing guest suite and plenty of room to play and dream

Photos throughout by Manolo Langis

“I’m always striving to create bright and airy spaces that are also functional,” says interior designer Christine Markatos Lowe of Christine Markatos Design. “Especially for a family, the open spaces for kids to run around in are so important.” With that philosophy, it’s no wonder that a Brentwood mother turned to her to transform a 1500 square foot one bedroom, two bath guest house into a space that would not only serve as a club house for her four tween-aged children, but that could also accommodate out-of-town visitors. “She’s a free spirit who loves color and strives to give her children a creative home with lots of space to play.”

“I was designing a home for a friend of hers,” says Lowe of how she met the client. “When she saw my work, she was immediately drawn to my love of color and patterns. They were right in line with her own aesthetic.” I instantly knew she would be a fun client to work with who would really let me run wild and push the boundaries.”

“The biggest challenge was in the initial conception,” says Lowe, “Figuring out how to create two separate functional spaces in this old garage-like space.”  The first floor’s low ceilings and a spiral staircase that went right through the center of the floor meant the whole space needed to be rethought in order to turn it into the welcoming, airy space the client was hoping for.

“We leveled out the first floor, closed off the staircase and created one large open room with various areas for the kids and its own bath. Upstairs, we divided the space into a kitchen/family room, bedroom and bath to function as a little apartment.” The complete renovation resulted in two separate zones — a large space for the children downstairs that opened out onto the pool and a serene, private guest suite above, with its own separate entrance. 

“The pool bath on the lower level is my favorite part of this guest house,” says Lowe, citing space’s Popham Design star cement tile floor which moves seamlessly into the curbless shower. “That’s a really ‘wow’ moment. That patterning combined with the Christopher Farr wallpaper and the custom designed scallop vanity is a perfect study in successfully playing with geometries.  The custom patterned wood tile floor in the playroom was also a real labor of love as we worked endlessly to get the exact right shades and color intensity.  It really ended up tying the whole lower floor together in a way that felt so fresh and fun.”

But, of course, even a professional has their moments of trial and error. “Selecting the paint for the upstairs ceiling was challenging,” says Markatos who was intent on tying together all the colors in the room with the perfect shade. “We were working with the Indigo painted floors, the green glass backsplash, and all of the furniture colors in the room.” Though it took close to ten  different shades of green to land on the perfect shade, the result is magical. 

“Once we reached the stage of installing furniture, the client and her kids were having so much fun watching it all happen and coming by daily to check in on the progress,” says Lowe. “The kids use the playroom all the time and there are ongoing slumber parties with their mom in the big canopy bed upstairs.”