This LA Apartment Is Colorful Minimalism at Its Best
Japanese and Scandinavian styles combine to add personality to the space.
Published Apr 11, 2018 3:00 PM
The biggest struggle with moving in with one’s significant other isn’t deciding what TV show to watch on Sunday nights or who should take out the trash; it’s mixing design styles in a way that’s both cohesive and reflects each individual’s personality. So, when photographer Jonpaul and Netflix producer Anica Douglass bought a new home after they got married last year, they saw an opportunity to merge their aesthetics in a way that felt seamless and streamlined. They’d already been living together for a couple of years, but the fresh space presented them with a blank canvas.
The apartment’s large windows, ample natural light, oak wood floors, and clean lines—not to mention additional square footage—wooed the couple. Their previous loft was a small space that didn’t allow for much experimentation, but the new home, located in LA’s Eagle Rock neighborhood, was an opportunity for a total refresh—and a fresh design style they discovered on their honeymoon.
“We’ve both always been drawn to
but after we traveled to Japan for our honeymoon, we also fell in love with the soft tones and wooden pieces of Japanese style,” they say.
They were drawn to the ethos of Wabi-Sabi, a Japanese design style that celebrates “perfect imperfections,” often relying on simple moments and messy textures. “We used to worry about mixing too many different styles together, but Wabi-Sabi taught us to find the beauty in the not-so-perfect,” they say. “What matters the most is making our space feel like our own.”
Mixing international influences is no easy feat, so the couple turned to the virtual decorating platform Hutch to plan out their space. Users upload a picture of their space and receive a 3D rendering of the room as a blank slate. Then, you can start designing by swapping out different items to see what looks best. After the look is finalized, most products can even be bought within the app itself.
“We had an idea of the style we were going for, and we had no trouble picking individual pieces that we love, but it was difficult for us to conceptualize the entire design without seeing everything together—that was a really helpful advantage of using Hutch,” explain the duo.
A major way the couple created that adaptable aesthetic that allowed a way for their styles to mesh was by way of neutral tones, accented with bright pops of color. In the living room, a combination of varying textures and cozy knits allow the bright area to have some edge, while the cheerful pinks, yellows, and greens give it a bit of fun. The main idea was to keep the textiles like rugs and blankets neutral, and add in soft color through accessories like the vases, plants, and pillows.
The fresh artwork also makes sense, given Jonpaul’s profession. “A majority of the artwork in our home is a mix of Jonpaul’s photos, along with artwork and pieces that our friends have created and gifted to us,” says Anica. Those little additions are what really add personality to the space, and highlight the couple’s penchant for fun, colorful wall decor.
No self-respecting Los Angeles home is complete without a few plants, so a variety of greenery was incorporated throughout the space, both to add some natural life and make a design statement.
“Let’s put it this way: We would live a greenhouse if we could!” says the couple. “Our fiddle leaf figs and cacti have been traveling from house to house with us for three years now. The giant variegated rubber plant is the new guy in town: We bought him specifically for our living room space. We needed a plant that was tall enough to make a statement in a room with such tall ceilings, and one that would add life and warmth to the space.”
The plant babies get plenty of natural light from the extra large windows, which were left uncovered for an unfussy look: “We debated on adding curtains to the huge living room window, but eventually decided on simple white designer roller shades. They look really clean when they’re down, and basically disappear when they’re open—which is exactly what we wanted.”
Larger homes (more than 2,000 square feet) can often fall victim to the “more space, more stuff” curse as owners feel the need to fill rooms with unnecessary pieces just to make a space feel full, but that usually results in a messy, cluttered look—quite the opposite of what the Douglasses wanted. They kept furniture and decor to the necessities, and added elements like floating shelves that add visual interest—and can be easily edited and updated—in a non-chaotic way.
The kitchen is a study in contrasts, with a black and tan central island juxtaposed against white walls, cabinetry, light fixtures, andsubway tile
backsplash. Matte black fixtures and bar stools add an extra edge, and built-in shelves on the island allow for additional storage space.
The light and dark contrast continues in the dining room, where a black table is paired with blonde chairs. “I usually gravitate towards light wood,” says Anica. “But Jonpaul loved the idea of adding a black wood dining table to help mix it up a bit, and I’m so glad we did. It inspired us to continue to add different colors and textures of wood, to keep the palette interesting.”
Case in point: The bedroom, where the walk-in closet doors are clad in a dark wood that stands out against the whitewashed room, and a deep gray rug grounds the cloud-like bed. They kept furniture in here to a minimum to make the room an airy oasis that doesn’t feel cluttered. “What you’re not seeing is our giant walk-in closet, where we hide everything!” says the couple.
The space feels warm, not sparse, thanks to artwork and ceramics that are either collected during travels or made by friends. “We feel really lucky to be able to fill our house with our friends’ work—and we also love to support local artists. The credenza in the living room, which was from a small local shop in Highland Park, was definitely one of our must-have items—we pretty much based our entire living room aesthetic around it.”
The biggest challenge of the home, though? Jonpaul’s office. “We wanted it to reflect Jonpaul’s personality as his work space, but also function as a guest room,” they say. They needed to find a balance that allowed it to be a comfortable place for someone to sleep, and a space that inspires creativity.
To that end, they opted for a sofa that doubles as a daybed, and kept the color palette neutral to avoid unnecessary distractions. For a bit of fun, Jonpaul’s humorous pizza pony photo hangs above the seating area, while a colorful mood board offers inspiration about the desk.
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