Retro ’50s Style Feels New Again in This California Home
A vibrant, sunny family home that has it all.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:32 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
The most peculiar thing about this mid-century Newport Beach home?
“This house has no right angles!” says designer Raili Clasen. “At first, [that] gave me anxiety attacks but then I loved the challenge. It forced us to get uber creative. Something about it made me keep thinking about how to make it cool so when the owners hired me, I had a great idea about where to start.”
Three architects, two builders, and 18 months later, Clasen has transformed the space into something more suitable for a young family. Though despite the fact that this was a gut renovation, they were careful to maintain the charm of the original 1950s architecture. And seeing the final product, that classic “mid-century Palm Springs” look is definitely the clear theme —though the home is anything but expected.
“We pushed the ‘organic modern’ button to escape the expected ‘Palm Springs movie star’ home. [The clients] were game for some true vintage pieces, but we didn’t want it to be a [Design Within Reach] explosion,” continues Clasen.
Look to the clean-lined wood elements that feature prominently throughout the house for examples of this. Or to the neon yellow exposed light bulb pendant in the bathroom. Or the graphic floral wallpaper in one of the kids’ bedrooms, juxtaposed perfectly with the turquoise bunk beds. The home may be retro, but it’s also so much more.
Between all the new additions and the “older” (though they may or may not have been purchased at Restoration Hardware) components, the space really is all about balance. Clasen’s signature punchy, playful style makes even more of a statement set against simple mid-century lines and some of the home’s original features, like the cool sunken shower or the sitting room fireplace—the latter of which is actually the designer’s favorite part of the entire home.
“I’m crazy for the original sitting area, which has a fireplace with original Heath tile still intact. Of course, it’s all around an angled space; it was mind boggling figuring out the furniture, but we just free-styled it and I love it!” she says.
Read on to learn more about the behind-the-scenes work that went into creating this family-friendly yet sophisticated oasis.
How did you deal with the lack of right angles? Was there anything you found worked best with the tricky configuration?
Ay yi yi… It was so hard. Placing beds, sofas, dining tables… it definitely kept me up a lot of nights, but once we all relaxed and accepted the home for what it was, it was easy.
We “smoke and mirrored” it with trees in the larger living areas where the corners meet, but for the most part, we drew all the furniture into the center of the space to make invisible walls so your attention doesn’t go straight to the uneven walls.
How did you include the kids in the design? Did designing for a young family present any constraints?
The kids all had their ideas, but once we learned about what they love to do, we ran with it. [The clients] were so open to all the “out of the box” ideas—specifically, my idea of trimming out the main wall in the horizontal board and batten and painting it dark gray.
What about the graphics—were they a request from the family?
I think now my clients expect me to pitch that kind of thing. They said at one of the first meetings, “What’s going to be our word?” They are from Chicago, so “Yo” was an easy choice.
How did you play with that classic Palm Springs feel for this project?
Keeping the original [tongue and groove] ceiling and polishing up the cement floors was a great start to keeping true to the [original] design. We pulled together a great combo of midcentury and new, clean modern furniture and rugs so it wasn’t predictable.
See more mid-century homes we can’t stop Pinning: A Mid-Century Home That’s a Testament to 1960s Design The Dining Room Rug in This Mid-Century Ranch Is a Thing of Dreams Everything We Love About Mid-Century Design, in One Dining Room
Learn to love your inbox again—sign up for Domino’s daily email.