The tropical-inspired dining space in Oh Joy! founder and creative director Joy Cho’s Los Angeles guesthouse–slash–work studio isn’t just meant for eating breakfast. It’s a place to host meetings, have lunch with out-of-town friends or coworkers, and sprawl out pizza boxes when her two daughters have sleepovers. It can play all those roles while still looking the part of a traditional breakfast nook, thanks to Cleo Murnane, the creative director at Project M Plus, who led the design of Cho’s WFH spot alongside her architect husband, McShane.
“Immediately, I wanted to give Joy something that could be sustainable for her,” says Cleo. Fortunately the couple had just designed a restaurant called the Salted Pig, where they had done a deep dive into beautiful, functional booths, so they knew the ins and outs of making a hardworking eat-in nook. “It was an opportunity to create something special, especially because there is a proper dining table on the other side of the room,” says Cho. Ahead, we talked to the digital creative’s interior designer about how they carved out the niche from scratch.
In an effort to contrast all the linear and angular elements elsewhere in the A-frame house, Cleo leaned into curves, starting by wrapping the base of the bench in flexible tambour wood sheets from Surfacing Solutions. “They can turn any corner easily, without a millworker having to custom-fabricate the edge,” she says of the product, which is glued in place. Below, she opted for brass Schluter trim—a detail that makes the Concrete Collaborative terrazzo floor tiles feel less industrial and more residential. Plus the Durabrass metal is easier to clean than solid brass and it doesn’t show obvious scuff marks when people’s feet hit it.
The feature that makes this a forever kind of dining nook? The seat and rolled back cushions, which are clad in a commercial-grade vinyl upholstery from Acacia that only looks like leather. “Joy was very specific about having kid-friendly spaces that were durable,” says Cleo. The emerald material offers a middle ground between the two most popular fabric options for breakfast nooks: the plasticky type that your legs stick to and the fancy linen kind that’s a recipe for stains.
Part of the reason behind choosing a banana leaf wallpaper for the nook was to bring the views of the tree-dotted skyline outside in. The other reason? Introduce some sophisticated, darker neutrals into the pink- and yellow-heavy living area. But not all tropical prints are created equal. Cleo landed on the Mokum La Palma print by James Dunlap because it was beautifully drawn, almost like a mural, and the lack of animals made it feel adult-approved. “It created a colorful, textured vignette without taking away from the architecture,” says the designer. True to the owner’s name, this spot is joyful to its core.