It was now or never: Beth Kleid and Rob Graham were ready to move on from their 1940s-era home. And if they were going to find a place so that their twin son and daughter could enjoy it before leaving for college, they had to act quickly. So when Beth spotted a house in the next neighborhood over, and their real estate agent ultimately showed them inside, they fell in love with the traditional styling that nonetheless carried a “California-beachy” vibe.
Beth and Rob then called on their designer and longtime friend Schuyler Samperton to put a stylish stamp on this Shingle-style house, which needed nothing beyond cosmetic treatment. “It was a blank slate,” Samperton says of the house, where, as luck would have it, the walls were already painted in pleasing shades that she chose to leave. “It was a palette of great neutrals, so I could go in any direction I wanted.” From there, working from Beth’s love of antique rugs and modern art, the designer wove a creative tension between old and new throughout each space.
The home’s size gave Samperton the chance to help her clients expand their small but significant art collection—a priority that helped drive the rest of the design. “Because the scale was a bit larger, we were able to get some amazing pieces of art,” the designer says, much of which was sourced through the Sears-Peyton Gallery in Brentwood. “Schuyler introduced me to gallery owner Macie Sears, and I felt a kindred spirit,” Beth says. That spirit reveals itself immediately in the foyer. There, an abstract by Shawn Dulaney plays off an antique Khotan rug and 19th-century French console. Samperton also placed a grouping of ceramics that echo the colors in the painting. “I love all the tones,” she notes. “The bronzes and the blues and the beiges. I also love the play of all those textures together.”
Samperton created more dynamic juxtapositions in the living room with Michael Abrams’ sleek blue oil anchoring a space filled with crimson tones and traditional patterns. The contrast is even more dramatic in the dining room, where an arresting Isabel Bigelow oil and starkly sculptural light fixture serve as a modern counterpoint to the Baker dining table’s more traditional lines. “The owners really like the combination of classic shapes and fabric with more contemporary art,” Samperton says. The works are intentionally unframed, just as they found them at the gallery. “It seemed more young and fresh—a bit less formal,” the designer adds.
Thanks to a layout by builder Bob Skibinski, the home’s flow lent itself well to Samperton’s gestures. “Ultimately, the way I designed the home is how I would have wanted it for myself,” says Skibinski, who happens to live right next door. The Massachusetts native had Cape Cod and the Hamptons on his mind when he chose the weathered shingles and crisp white trim outside, but the interior speaks to the California climate with an easy flow that connects the family room, guest suite and home office to the pool outside.
Like Samperton’s work inside, Josh Rezac’s modern, minimal landscape contrasts with the home’s traditional architecture. Rather than profusions of colorful flowers that one might see in New England, white predominates: Masses of jasmine and oakleaf hydrangea along with potted gardenias stand out against the lawn, hedges and trees. “They wanted it to be clean and to incorporate the lawn,” Rezac says. Adds Beth, “When I go into my backyard, I have a little break from the city. The gardens are more tailored and pared down, while the inside is more exciting—they have different vibes.”
Much of that vibe comes from the vivid patterns of old, one-of-a-kind fabrics Samperton used on pillows and cushions. A riot of blue-patterned pillows, for example, covers the family room sectional. “I’m all about antique textiles—I love trying to incorporate them whenever I can,” Samperton says. Her client feels the same. “I’m a total pillow maniac, and she’s worse than I am,” Beth says. “The textiles are like pieces of art.” The designer complemented those fabrics with a lively Peter Dunham pattern on the armchairs and draperies. “I love that exoticism that has one foot in historical documents,” Samperton says of the updated take on a timeless design. An industrial cobalt pendant over the coffee table adds an informal edge. “It just makes the room more fun and interesting,” says Beth.
Just as she did across the main level, Samperton started with a rug design in the master suite and used its muted sepia and cream tones as a backdrop for arresting fine art photography by Jack Spencer over the replace and watercolors by Lourdes Sanchez flanking the bed. That approach served her well as she customized the home without ever lifting a paintbrush or moving a wall. “I start with rugs and fabrics,” she explains. “Then it really becomes about stumbling on these pieces that are incredibly compatible.”