For a young couple in Los Angeles, this Spanish revival bungalow tucked away on a leafy street would be their first home together; a casual, cozy nest suitable not only for them, but soon, also children. And since they agreed that anything glitzy could be checked at the door—no Hollywood Regency, thank you, no midcentury saturation or eclectic mix of styles—who better to bring a fresh eye to California living than a designer based in Chicago?
Steve Kadlec took one look at the space and knew exactly how to take advantage of its West Coast charm: Use a clean aesthetic in an easy, neutral palette that would shine in the abundance of natural light and not compete with envious views of the lush and colorful outdoors. “For us,” says Kadlec, who met the couple through a client in Chicago, “the architecture had a unique L.A. feel, with Spanish arches, high ceilings and ironwork. We wanted it to be at home in its environment.”
The house opens onto a gracious double-height square vestibule with a spiral ironwork stair. Moving into the lower level, which houses the main public rooms, the dining and living areas open up with dark- framed French doors onto the terrace overlooking the swimming pool; the three bedrooms are upstairs. Though it’s an airy plan, with the living area flowing into the dining room, which itself spills into the kitchen, “the doorway arches define movement,” Kadlec says.
Kadlec relied on such architectural shapes—arcs and squares—to guide the design. For example, in the living area, where hefty dark-wood beams create a grid overhead, rectangles play out at the ground level, too.
To follow suit, the designer modified the 1990s Dakota Jackson sofa, a piece the couple inherited and one of the few key items they wanted to incorporate. “It was tapered before, but we made it more classic, giving it a square tuxedo design,” he says.
The room’s low, wide Barcelona daybed covered in ivory Spinneybeck leather is another reflection of the shape, as are two custom ’40s-style club chairs with 90-degree armrests. Manuel Canovas chenille on the sofa, Mokum twill from Holly Hunt on the chairs and Fabricut linen draperies soften the edges. The space is more family-oriented and less formal, and the tones, aside from a few popping artworks, are quiet, says Kadlec, so that hues seen in the exterior—the palms, the leaves and the grass outdoors—“become the interior color.”
The palette of white walls, metal window and door frames, and dark- wood beams and accents continues into the dining room, where a long table made from a gorgeous slab of walnut lends a comfortable irregularity to the otherwise pristine design. Ivory dining chairs with nailhead detailing pick up on the metal of the spare chandelier; its circular rings are a response to the curve of the arches.
Kadlec went with richer tones in the master suite, deepening the walls to a warm cream, and covering the high headboard with navy cotton velvet. It’s flanked with secured wall-mounted sconces. “The arrangement creates its own composition, so you don’t need art on that wall,” says the designer. Instead, a grouping of five canvases hangs adjacently to form a tree.
The depiction of vegetation is yet another nod to the outdoors. It is also but one of the clever ways in which the residents don’t have to exercise a green thumb neither claims to have. A fig tree stands in the dining room, and among the potted low-maintenance plants are a few handsome silk arrangements tucked here and there. “It’s a dirty little secret,” jokes Kadlec. Not that anyone minds.