Every so often, a designer swoops into a project like a superhero, saving the day—er, the interiors. That’s exactly how it felt when Los Angeles-based designer Katie Hodges came on to complete the in-progress bathroom remodels for a couple’s modern Mediterranean-style residence in the Pacific Palisades. As Hodges arrived on the scene, the work had ground to a near-standstill. But by the time the designer departed, not only had the bathrooms morphed into showpieces, she’d also recast the interior aesthetics of the entire place. And what makes her rescue even more heroic is that she pulled off this feat while devising and executing a design plan in reverse.
“This process was totally backward,” says Hodges with a laugh. “I designed the bathrooms first, in anticipation of what the home would look like, even before I knew that I’d be furnishing it. I basically imagined the living room two years before I worked on it.” The homeowners had quickly realized that running the bathroom renovations by themselves was more than they bargained for; at the same time, they’d also already ordered a houseful of furniture—nearly all of it white—and were disappointed by it but torn about how to move forward. While working on the bathrooms, the designer and clients became friends and stayed in touch. And after a year, the pair pulled the trigger on refurnishing their abode and completed that project in two phases, each a year apart. (Hodges even helped them sell off their earlier furniture purchases.) “When I signed on to do the bathrooms, the wife kept saying, ‘I just need to get this done right now,’” recalls Hodges. “But as I convinced them to allow for design development in those rooms and eventually for the rest of the house, they understood the decision was, ‘Do you want it done quickly? Or do you want it done beautifully and right?’ ”
Hodges took her cues from the homeowners, a social, active couple with a love of fashion and art. “They wanted it to be very refined and kind of sexy, yet livable, usable and durable,” she says, noting that the clients have a large family that includes six grandkids plus dogs. Hodges was also very clear on a pivotal point: “I told them, ‘We cannot have your whole house be white. There has to be something here that shows your edgier side.’” The designer leaned into deeper hues in the dining room primarily, bringing in woven rattan, oak-and-steel chairs and a custom solid-oak dining table while tempering the homeowners’ proclivity for crisp whites with cozier neutrals throughout the home. Color, when it does appear, follows the natural spectrum—the green of the living room’s sculptural fiddle leaf fig tree, for instance. “The filter for me is to place a strong emphasis on shapes and textures more so than colors,” Hodges admits. “And there always has to be some kind of organic, loose and natural element.”
Under the designer’s eye, the existing arcs of the architecture act as a framework for the warm modern aesthetic she envisioned. In the primary bathroom, a deep, round ceramic tub seems made for the curved alcove it fills. In the distinctive circular living room—topped with a dramatic vaulted ceiling and wraparound views of the Santa Monica Mountains—Hodges opted for similarly sinuous forms for the sofa, lounge chair, coffee table and rug to emphasize its shape. “Why pretend it’s anything that it’s not?” she asks. Hodges also points out the deliberate tension between the room’s more buttoned-up couch and lounge chair against the slightly rumpled vibe of the Sergio Rodrigues Moleca chair and ottoman. “That chair completed the room for me—with the sofa being so tailored and pristine, it brought a casual and loose element to the space,” explains the designer. “I tend to toe the line of counterbalancing masculine and feminine forms so that there’s always tension followed by release. Everything is polished and beautiful but slightly laid-back.”
The homeowners, for their part, were relieved that their home was finally taking shape and became wildly enthusiastic about the design process—“practically addicted to it,” jokes Hodges. “And now they’re truly appreciative that everything is thoughtful, rather than just chosen during a time crunch.” Which only goes to show: Not all heroes wear capes.