We have seen quite a few homes that truly master the whole whitewashed minimalist look. And for as serene and stunning as they may be, there is something to be said of a space that combines the aesthetic with an abundance of natural light. As a result, a seemingly one-dimensional backdrop, comprised of neutral tones, transforms into a dynamic spectrum of brilliant whites, inviting an invigorating refresh. Take for example this Malibu home, designed by Vanessa Alexander of Alexander Design, who channeled the sunny disposition of the outdoors to create a cool and carefree living space.
The palette of the home was informed by the effortlessly chic elegance of a set of moody tones inspired by the beach. Light wood furnishings, a diverse range of grays (to balance out the white), and bold pops of contrasting hues all helped contribute to the aesthetic Alexander was aiming for. “My main goal was casual elegance inspired by the client’s sophisticated lifestyle and amazing art collection,” she notes. “However we still wanted it to remain totally at ease and carefree when entertaining family and friends. The overall feel we were aiming for was light, bright, sunny, and beachy.” And it’s safe to say that Alexander did just that. Ahead, we caught up with the LA-based interior designer to get the complete lowdown on the redesign.
The entry is so understated yet impactful and serene. How can one replicate that feel in their home?
Keep the palette muted and tonal but punctuate with natural fibers in the basket, let the natural light flow in. If there isn’t natural light, try to fake it with mirrors and indirect lighting. Overall, clean it up and put things away!
With the abundance of light being a major source of inspiration for the design of the interior, Alexander was keen on both utilizing and maximizing the effects of it. “Since this space is such a retreat we wanted it to feel as open and welcoming as possible and using the natural light was key, to maximize the light that already streamed through the windows,” she notes. “The white paint color and palette keeps it light and airy throughout.”
Before Alexander got her hands on the space, the kitchen was almost exclusively clad in a dark brown-mahogany stain, floors included. She recalls the ornate molding of the cabinet fronts and matching pulls, likening it to a faux-Tuscan-inspired theme—in fact, a theme that found its way throughout the rest of the home. The primary goal was to modernize the home and pare down the superfluous elements that contrasted the newfound direction Alexander was leading the design in.
Alexander took to the kitchen with a splash of light gray paint, one that would offer up a pleasant yet subtle contrast against the white, fitting in with the slightly more so saturated hue of the cabinets. After simplifying the standout elements—cabinets, wall paint, and flooring—Alexander decided to keep the existing backsplash. Originally over-the-top and contrived, the backsplash fit surprisingly well with the pared-down decor of the ensuing redesign.
As to how she managed to keep the whitewashed palette from feeling tired, Alexander credits the use of texture and layers, specifically “through layers of tonal elements like leather, metal, mirrors, great lighting, and especially art.” In addition to this, she encourages the use of styling with decorative pieces that span across multiple periods and influences, all of which can help contribute to a multi-faceted finish of a space.
Alexander’s pared-down approach to the design carried on over to the bedroom, where a handful of standout elements—a sculptural pendant, oversized rug, and statement art—provided a major dose of personality to an otherwise muted scheme.
When it came to the kids’ room, Alexander’s main goal was to create a space that was fun and special yet, remained aesthetically similar to the overarching decor scheme of the home. Additionally, it would have the ability to double as an extra guest room for adults.
For the small courtyard that stands outside of the home’s entry, Alexander was keen on implementing a focal point that would complete the compact outdoor space. “We found an old French vessel [to stand against the plastered brick wall] and literally stuck a copper pipe in it for the spout and let that patina. The idea was to add another element that fit with the influence of the home’s architecture but was totally edited and chic in its simplicity,” she added.
Integrating an outdoor shower was essential to the client’s active lifestyle that centered around surf and the beach. “We built the wood surround for privacy, softened the area with olive and lavender bushes and set up an area for wetsuits to dirty,” notes Alexander of the charming spot. “Form follows function in this simple but chic moment.”
And with an equally stunning outdoor area, complete with a pool and plenty of space to lounge under the sun, it’s safe to say that Alexander created one seriously envy-worthy oasis.
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