A Peach Kitchen and Sunset-Hued Nursery Take This L.A. Home Straight to the Tropics
Memphis decor and wall murals give it life.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:13 AM
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Scene setting, mood altering, energy shifting—the right shade can completely transform your outlook with the stroke of a paint brush. This month, we’re dipping into that chromatic magic with our series Color Your World.
Palm leaf wallpaper, pastels that pop, flamingo flowers—Emily Wassall is a sucker for anything tropical. “The whole hot-climate, palm-trees aesthetic has always been such a big draw for me,” she says. It’s the main reason the fashion industry veteran and her husband, Fran—both originally from England, where gray skies are the norm—moved to Los Angeles without ever having been there. Well, that and work (she’s also a freelance creative director with a client roster that ranges from Net-a-Porter to Anine Bing; he works in marketing). The Technicolor home they share with their three Cali-born kids, 7-year-old Aura, 5-year-old Zephyr, and 1-year-old Jade, plus dog Merlin, is an homage to all things warm weather. “It’s definitely an obsession of mine,” she explains.
Since coming to America, Wassall had never been able to decorate exactly how she wanted. “We moved nine times in 10 years,” she says. Shortly after signing the contract on their 1932 Silver Lake home in 2013 (it happened to be the night their eldest was born), they packed up and headed to San Francisco, putting all remodeling plans on hold. Fast-forward two and a half years: They returned to their house in the hills, which they had been renting out as is, and took it down to the studs. “We hit the ground running,” she recalls. First up: Flip the layout so all the bedrooms are on one floor. Then dunk every room in bright paint colors and leave no corner plantless.
Benjamin Moore’s Malibu Peach was a fitting choice for the kitchen. “The name alone resonated with us,” says Wassall. The cabinets, vent hood, and even the staircase wall, which is clad in poplar dowels to give it a scalloped look, are swathed in the splashy hue. Paired with the natural greenery outside—the picture window over the cooktop looks out onto the garden—the space positively exudes jungle vibes. “It’s like we’re up in the treetops,” she says.
Miami’s South Beach was another major point of inspiration for Wassall, hence the circular windows (a nod to the city’s Art Deco architecture) and touches of Memphis-inspired decor, like the sculptural island pendant lights by Schneid Studio. “I’ve definitely hinted at it while not trying to take it too far,” she says with a laugh. “My husband does a good job of pulling me back.”
The teal dining table by Waka-Waka is her best splurge to date (she had the piece in her head even before they started redesigning the house). “It’s become such a centerpiece,” she says. And not just visually. For the past year, it’s where her little ones sit down for virtual school.
During the day the overall mood in the home is light and playful. But at night it’s a different story—well, at least in the stairwell. “It definitely feels like more of a club vibe,” she says, referring to the neon artwork they had commissioned by local artist Dani Bonnet. “I met my husband when he was a DJ, so we can’t shake it.” The faux plant–dotted ledge is the only one in the house (watering would have just been too much of a pain).
The person in the family with a different decorating point of view? Aura. If she had things her way, her cozy reading nook would be surrounded by floral curtains with oversize valances and giant bows. “It would be a take on the ’80s, but certainly not mine,” jokes Wassall. Because the bedroom her two daughters share is fairly small, the creative limited hints of purple, black, and blue to cloudlike shapes and window trim.
Having missed the boat to go all out with the girls’ nurseries, Wassall surrounded Jade in her abstract version of the L.A. landscape. “I wanted him to have a space that was inspiring; where he could wake up and have all these colorful things to look at,” she explains.
As far as tackling toy clutter goes, Wassall has adopted a ruthless, top-secret approach. “I’ll move things to the garage for about a month, and if they don’t ask me about it, it goes,” she says, laughing. For the items that make the cut, she swears by IKEA’s Kallax storage cubbies. “They hide everything away but are great for showcasing books up top,” she notes.
Wassall was going for a “grown-up” scheme, so she sought out pieces for the main bedroom that were muted and traditional at their core but had a modern flair to them, like a BFGF tapestry. In the bathroom she paid tribute to the previously all-black space with a dark vanity, floor tiles, and, yes, even toilet.
Settling down has made everyone in the Wassall clan happier, including the many plants that have traveled with them from home to home over the past decade. “I feel like a lot of them were sad along that journey,” she says. “Now they are all blooming so quickly.”
Best plant shop around: When the pandemic first hit, Bloomscape. For local L.A. plants, Mickey Hargitay Plants is awesome (you can pick up your new babies from the back of its truck without standing in line).
Where I go treasure hunting: Candid Home in Silver Lake is a great mix of unique vintage finds.
Object in my home that gets the most use: Our Waka-Waka dining table. We eat, work, play on repeat there every single day—it’s indestructible.
Pattern that is so me: Checkerboard. I know, I know, it’s trending right now, but it’s always been my thing.
One thing I learned about renovating: You can’t be on-site enough. I was able to catch some issues and also push the details further. There’s nothing like seeing your vision come together in front of your eyes.
Who to Know
Pristine painter: Dean Gregory is all about the details.
Meticulous wallpaper installer: Sean Greene is a wallpaper genius.
Other artisans and brands I’d recommend to friends: Concrete Collaborative (the new artist tiles have some incredible patterns that we will be using in our new front yard). Also Entler creates the most amazing custom lights.
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