When deciding on any piece, these clients always wanted to know: ‘Who designed it? Where is it from? What’s the story behind it?’ ” interior designer Jen Samson recalls. Sharing such background information—the details that sometimes only professionals get excited about, she jokes—is ultimately what made the process successful. “The goal was to create a home filled with items that spark intrigue and interest, things that are meaningful and intentional,” she says. “The owners love pieces that tell stories.”
Though young and recently married, the designer notes, each of them had already amassed a large collection of books, artworks and objets. Their Mar Vista abode—a boxy, modern four-bedroom designed, built and landscaped by Marmol Radziner in 2017—is their first home together. Samson worked closely with the pair to merge their styles, curating a sophisticated mix of contemporary, midcentury and custom furnishings with outstanding pieces and striking patterns throughout. “They each have a strong point of view in terms of design and wanted a selection that would speak to both of them,” Samson explains.
The house, which features an open, free-flowing layout, has polished-concrete floors, oak cabinetry and built-ins, as well as a distinctive sunken den that opens onto a covered patio and inviting pool and spa. It’s seamlessly suited to its environment, with exterior surroundings enhanced and updated by landscape architect Jorge Martinez. The den and living room offer views of the pool and a lovely oak tree in the rear, while kitchen windows frame a row of bamboo and glimpses of sky. “A Marmol Radziner home is the perfect canvas for a designer,” Samson muses.
As no architectural interventions were necessary, her clients “just wanted to add some soul,” the designer recalls. The couple envisioned a lounge-like vibe for the sunken den, which they imagined as a hangout for conversation and a spot to play instruments and listen to the wife’s extensive record collection. Weaving a global influence into the design scheme was important too, as the husband hails from London and they’re both well-traveled. But most of all, they particularly desired what the wife calls “wow moments” throughout the home.
A vintage woven Moroccan rug in the den kicked off the project and helped inform the abode’s palette. “They fell in love in Morocco and own a boutique hotel there,” Samson comments. While the carpet reads magenta, its colorful weave includes threads of yellow, blue and green—all earthy tones that repeat in these interiors. Notes of mustard are especially impactful, from the den’s low-slung Italian sofa to accessories and textiles in the living room. Materials like bouclé, velvet and even a chair covered in shaggy Guatemalan wool layer in additional depth.
While the homeowners had initially expressed reservations about the rug’s color, it was Samson’s suggestion to pair it with large-scale banana-leaf wallpaper on the den’s 14-foot wall that pulled the vision together. It worked: “The house is open and airy, so we wanted this room to not only have a big ‘wow moment,’ but to also create a visceral feeling,” the designer says. With its moody dark hues, the lush mural extends to the edge of the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors that open onto a greenery-ringed patio, seamlessly guiding the eye to the outdoors. “That wall engulfs the space and really draws you in,” Samson enthuses.
The upper floor features another big sensation with a bold, undulating print of green, blue and gray feathers covering the walls of the landing. Just beyond, the primary bedroom makes its own design statement, this time without a pattern. Instead, a limewash treatment in a serene sea blue spans the walls and ceiling, extending across the cornices and baseboards and enveloping the space with texture and depth. Samson also brought in a warm walnut wood for a wall-to-wall headboard and floating nightstands. Ceramics and sketches by the wife provide additional points of interest.
Such details fold in personal history and, true to the residents’ original intentions, fill the space with stories. “This project definitely wasn’t only about finding pieces that looked beautiful,” Samson reflects. “It was about the two of them creating a home that would feel like an extension of their lives together.” The next chapter is theirs to tell.
Designer Jen Samson mixed a vintage Moroccan runner from Katie Leede & Company with a striking brass bench by Pietro Franceschini in the entry of this Mar Vista home. Workstead sconces highlight Leigh Wells’ Visage 06 sourced from Tappan Collective.