Merging of the MindsAuthor:Lindsey Shook
The founder of Armadillo blends her Aussie roots with California vibes inside her own Venice home
“From the start, it wasn’t just about building our dream home, there were deep reflections and long conversations about who lives there, how we want to live, how we want to feel every time we open the front door and step inside, but also how it would evolve and grow with us,” says Jodie Fried, cofounder of California-based rug company Armadillo, about the philosophy for designing her family home in Venice. “Building it was all about weaving together the antipodean architectural details we missed from Australia— the subtle nuances of natural light, air flow, proportion and quality materials—with our life and home in California, where we’ve lived for 11 years.”
In order to infuse their home with the essence of Australia, Fried and her husband enlisted one of Sydney’s most prominent architecture firms, Tribe Studio, to help them bring their vision of “Australia meets California” to life. Fried notes, “Being from Australia, a seamless connection between the interior of the home and the outdoor space was crucial.”
Originally a 1920s bungalow that was full of charm but lacked function was situated on the lot, but unfortunately it was unsavable. “It was incredibly quaint and full of character but couldn’t be salvaged, so we tried to capture its essence in our new build,” Fried notes. The architects wove in a few elements of the original structure, including a pitched roof that makes for a jewel-box feel.
“This concept of taking ergonomic design right to the end experience is distinctive of the Australian architecture that my husband, Greig, and I connect with so much,” she notes. The two-level, 3,200-square-foot home is designed with two distinct proportions that allow for a busy first floor and a quiet second floor where the family can retreat. The lower level features an open kitchen and dining area with 10-foot-high ceilings, architectural beams and cavity sliding doors that seamlessly open to merge the inside and outside together, while the living room spills out onto the pool and garden. “It is a confident space designed to be full of people,” says Fried. “One of my favorite things is being able to cook and socialize in the kitchen and watch the children in the pool simultaneously! It truly feels like there is no boundary at all, just this beautiful overflow of the inside into the outdoors.”
Upstairs, while bold architecturally, is intended to feel like a true sanctuary. Inspired by barns in Australia, a long corridor reveals expansive ceiling beams that end at the bedrooms. “It’s much quieter on this floor and more conducive to relaxing and unwinding,” she notes. “At the opposite end of the upper floor is our creative studio, which basks in the morning and afternoon light, allowing a bright and calm space for clear thinking. It’s user-friendly without compromising on style, which really distils the ethos behind the Venice house of marrying functionality with architectural joy.”
Each material and finishes throughout were thoughtfully selected with function and serenity top of mind. “For the most part we’ve avoided color because sticking to a neutral, monochromatic palette gives us the chance to reset creatively,” Fried says. “We wanted our house to feel like it could be fearlessly lived in and truly enjoyed, not delicate or overly precious.”
A neutral-hued Caesarstone that is virtually indestructible covers the kitchen, ipe decking was left unsealed so that it could patina into a natural gray that would blend seamlessly with the poured concrete floors inside, and a custom 100 percent Belgian linen sofa in the living room has removable, machine-washable covers that are coated for outdoor use and can be hosed down. “We didn’t want to wait until the kids left home before we got a natural linen sofa!”
While the interiors provide the family the perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Fried’s pride and joy is her garden. “I spent many hours researching gardens that I loved and how they changed over the seasons,” she notes. “I became infatuated with the work of Dutch landscaper Piet Oudolf, whose work includes the incredible planting of New York City’s Highline, and I was really inspired by his naturalistic approach to gardening, which prioritizes seasonal structural characteristics and color, ensuring that the garden looks interesting throughout all seasons.” She achieved the desired “unstructured” look and sustainability by installing a variety of drought-tolerant California native grasses and plants that range in color, texture and height, all positioned flawlessly against the home’s black facade.
Fried’s passion for protecting the earth is at the core of her business and the design of her home. The multitiered interior roofs create a natural air circulation, which minimizes the need for air-conditioning, while the skylights open to let the hot air out. “Having cofounded Armadillo, sustainable design is extremely close to my heart and was definitely a priority when it came to designing our Venice house,” she says. “The Venice house has truly become a love letter to our Australian roots. We love how Hannah Tribe and the team brought that exact magic that we couldn’t find, the casual yet discerning spirit so typical of our country, into our Californian world.”