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“This was one of those unicorn projects that just went incredibly smoothly!” says Caitlin Murray of her latest renovation project.

Murray, the founder and CEO of LA-based design firm Black Lacquer Design, recently spent a few months completely overhauling the living and dining rooms of an LA residence. While she wasn’t under a strict timeline, the previous space was bland and beige—totally unfit for a new family that loved decorating with color.

In the lead image: Lawson Fenning Griffin Chairs


“The home is an expansive mid-century ranch that desperately needed personality and soulfulness infused into the living and dining spaces,” says Murray, who used the lax deadline to source custom elements and vintage finds that would make the home more unique and personal.

The result? In Murray’s own words, a space that is “sophisticated, eclectic, whimsical, happy, and artful”—all in one. We spoke to the designer to find out more about how she turned a previously drab space into a fun, fresh area befitting the young homeowners.

What was the inspiration behind the decor?

The homeowners have warm, bubbly personalities, and that inspired a lot of the punchy choices. Because the home is true to a specific era, I wanted to honor the architecture and keep and enhance certain elements, like the gorgeous travertine fireplace.


In this image: Arteriors Nevada Lamp, $390; Modshop Cannes Three Door Credenza, $2,076

What was on the homeowner’s wishlist? Was there anything prioritized that they wanted to update or change?

The clients have a new baby, and wanted to create chic yet comfortable zones to relax and entertain. They were super open to infusing color throughout the home and adding elements like dramatic paint and cozy textures. The home itself was in great shape, so it was really just about decorating and adding defining layers.


In this image: Worlds Away Benson Brass Sputnik Chandelier, $1,187; Anthropologie Brilliant Poppies Rug, $198.40- $2,398.40  

Were there any elements of the space they wanted to keep in the redesign?

They had recently purchased a dining table and chairs, so those were the only pieces we had to work around. Otherwise, it was a blank canvas!


We love the bold paint color in the living room, and how the dark shade contrasts with the brighter pieces in the room—what was the thought process behind the color palette?

It’s all about contrast. I really wanted to incorporate an array of colors, but you run the risk of it reading cutesy if not balanced with a more moody, dramatic element to anchor the mix of pastel and highly saturated hues.


In this image: CB2 Peekaboo 38” Acrylic Console Table, $379

Looking at the dining room specifically, can you speak to how you implemented texture in the space?

To me, that room was just screaming for grasscloth wallpaper. It had been a white box before we got started, and I knew that would be the answer to making the space feel comforting and complete. Choosing a neutral color added the right amount of interest, and allowed us to go bold elsewhere with a graphic, brightly-colored floral rug.


There’s a slightly eclectic feel to the furniture and accent pieces, but the area still looks cohesive and flows well—how did you keep everything feeling intentional, yet also include a range of various stylistic elements?

This is definitely another lesson in balance, no matter how broad or nuanced. It’s important to consider the elements of design, including proportion, shape, texture, color, pattern, repetition, variety, unity, harmony, etc. I think design is part art, part science. You can try to follow all the “rules,” but ultimately, if it feels right, it is right.


In this image: Zinc Door Veranda Bench, $535; Arteriors Wahlburg Chandelier, $2,100

Do you have a favorite part of the final space?

I love the colorful, oversized abstract piece in the living room. I think it’s really special because it was born out of relaying to the client some inspiration images, sizing, a color palette, and general direction. And then, she actually painted it herself! For a veterinarian by trade with no art background, I think she nailed it. And it makes for a great conversation starter.


Images by Eron Rauch.

See more before & after stories:

This Designer Created a Bohemian Oasis in Joshua Tree A Boston Condo Gets a Modern, Yet Traditional Makeover Can You Spot the Ikea Hack in This Kitchen Makeover?