Light at Heart


Interior designer Chris Barrett brings her signature lightness to a Malibu home

It’s no surprise that both California and Chris Barrett begin with a C. In many ways, Barrett is the quintessential Southern California interior designer. Having lived in Los Angeles, her entire life, her work embodies the state’s ethos: light and airy, comfortable and casual, tinged with multi-cultural reference points and handcrafted elements. “I don’t do heavy,” she says.

Barrett’s creative and talented clients, who’d worked in the film industry, had actually designed the seaside residence themselves and were now ready to furnish the interior. Ready to start the next stage of their life fresh, they’d left most of their possessions behind.

A custom white oak table is the central point around which the rest of the living room’s furniture and accessories, including wood-frame lounge chairs by Nickey Kehoe, a caned sofa by Dessin Fournir, a pair of sculpted marble table lamps from Ironies, dance.
The 18th Century English Tall Cabinet was found on 1st Dibs, the custom swivel chairs are from Posse, the reeded Bois Coffee Table is from Rose Tarlow

“This was one of those rare jobs. The clients brought no furniture from their previous home with the exception of a few pieces from the master bedroom — the bed, a bench, the rug — and a few chairs, so we had a clean slate.”

Scones from Circa illuminate a custom headboard and the bedside tables from Posse. The wallcovering is by Rose Tarlow.

“My purpose was to complement the architecture and the ocean, creating something fresh and approachable,” Barrett explains. “Our goal is to blend beauty with design that ultimately feels as if the space should have always been this way – beauty but not perfection, nothing overdone.” 

Here that meant a clean white backdrop, from the kitchen, with its waterfall island and elegant Baker bar stools, to the dining room, where ghostly slip-covered chairs cluster around a custom white oak table, to the living room, where a rug from Mansour Modern, leather ottomans from Gregorius Pineo, antique side tables found on 1st Dibs and a custom white oak coffee table ground chairs and couches covered in white linen fabric from Pindler. 

The same approach was taken in the bedroom. This result of this strategy puts the focus on the home’s key elements: the brilliant ocean view; the colorful life enacted here , made especially lively when the clients’ grandchildren come to visit; and, the couple’s collection of awards and accolades.

The outdoor furniture is by Juniper House. The pillows were created from Chris Barrett Textiles. The area rug is from Niba.

“I wouldn’t want to speak for them,” says Barrett, “but I would say they were wowed.”