Australian Design Meets California Living at This Indoor-Outdoor Family Home
Easy-breezy down to the epic climbing tree.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:12 AM
We may earn revenue from the products available on this page and participate in affiliate programs.
In a surprise move for an art-loving mom of three, Jodie Fried left the majority of the walls in her 3,000-square-foot Los Angeles home entirely bare. The cofounder of the sustainable rug company Armadillo, along with her husband, Greig Fraser, a cinematographer, kept adornments to a minimum on purpose. “Because of our jobs, we’re both very visually stimulated during the day, and it was important to come home to something calmer,” she explains. “We just love [the walls] white.”
Of course, for the designer, who might devote months to the tonal nuances of a single rug, landing on the right shade was an equally intentional exercise. (In the end the winner was an off-white with a blue base, chosen to counteract the yellow California sunshine.)
Such painstaking attention to detail wasn’t limited to paint selection alone. Fried and Fraser, who moved from Australia to the U.S. in 2008, enlisted Sydney-based architects Tribe Studio to design a dream home from the ground up, full of tailored touches. Some, like the handrail on the stairs, which required four prototypes in order for them to decide on the perfect diameter, might easily go unrecognized—but that was the point. “These are things you only notice when they’re wrong,” notes Fried.
Other, more immediately visible hallmarks—high ceilings, thick wood accents, and seamless transitions between indoors and out—reflect Fried and Fraser’s desire to blend favorite features of a classic Australian interior with nods to a California lifestyle and landscape. Above all (and in spite of the white), the goal was to create a space that could serve as a functional backdrop for their always-on-the-move kids (Felix, 9; Leo, 7; and Poppy, 5) and comfortably accommodate a crowd. “We wanted it to be something you could appreciate from a design perspective,” says Fried, “but that could house our family and friends, and our friends’ families, too.”
To achieve this, Fried chose furnishings made to withstand wear and tear—all in her preferred palette of earth-tone neutrals. An elegant, oversize sofa from Australian brand Eco Outdoor “looks like something you wouldn’t want your kids to go near,” jokes the designer, but its oatmeal-colored linen is outdoor friendly and can be hosed down when dirty (weatherproof, quick-dry fabric does the trick). In the dining area, a sturdy table topped with an easy-to-clean white oak veneer hosts dinner parties by night and arts-and-crafts sessions by day. Durable mats and runners from Armadillo’s new small-space collection, Nook, soften busy areas like the entryway and kitchen, while upstairs Agra rugs add warmth (and the tightly woven fibers also repel spills).
The kids had design input in their own rooms, which, thanks to a series of varying roof pitches, resemble three tiny houses off a main hallway. Wood accents and linen bedding keep a throughline with the rest of the home, but each space channels the trio’s growing personalities and passions. Felix picked out skateboarding prints that Fried then framed and hung on the wall; Leo’s room is a shrine to Legos; and Poppy’s sunny nook features a smattering of pink, lots of artwork, and ample storage for books and toys.
But the kids’ favorite place to spend time is outside. Near the pool and amid a profusion of native California plants, a 55-foot-high tree emerges, outfitted with swings and a ladder. “Children gravitate toward it,” explains Fried of the majestic ficus, which she believes is imbued with a certain magic. “They can play for hours out there.”
When they do, Fried and Fraser can monitor the goings-on from the kitchen, where the sliding doors transform the room into an extension of the outdoors in seconds. “You can be cooking and see someone in the pool, someone in the tree, someone in the living room. We mocked it up before we built it, so we could perfect the choreography of cooking and entertaining and having kids around. It’s very much the center of the house,” says Fried.
Despite being designed for company, the family has recently come to appreciate the space anew, under quieter circumstances. “When we first went into lockdown last year, we were all there from the beginning to the end of the day, together as a family,” recalls Fried. “We had time to really use the space—we ate around the dining table, we had all the doors open, we went swimming in the dark. It felt true to our intentions and to who we are. And that’s when it really came to life.”
Want to read about more kid-approved design tricks, creative organization ideas, and family-friendly living solutions? Sign up for our weekly newsletter!