When Olivia Wetterau, an architecture and design graduate student at UCLA, set out to redesign her breezy Venice townhouse, she wanted to make sure it fused an eclectic variety of styles—think boho, glam, modern, and a little girly.
“I was looking to incorporate all of the different elements that make up my style,” Wetterau tells Domino. “There is definitely a touch of glam in there, a hint of mid-century modern, and a bit of maximalism. I think it overall still has a California casual vibe, without being too entwined with current trends.”
In order to make sure those different aspects of her personality flowed in a cohesive manner, Wetterau decided to start with a neutral palette of muted greys and whites for the walls and light fixtures, and built upon that using funky elements and unique pieces of furniture, like patterned throws, a gorgeous striped rug, and cozy, textured ottomans. For the living room specifically, Wetterau turned to 3D technology design app Hutch, which works to help users design their homes using custom filters and shoppable products.
“The biggest challenge was differentiating the spaces without being too distinct, since it is an open floor plan, and I wanted the space to have a nice flow,” Wetterau explains. “I don’t think you need to be confined to one style to have a cohesive look—in fact, I find that kind of boring. I purchased what I loved, and then, I looked to Hutch to help finalize my design and really bring the room together to feel like a completed space.”
Wetterau used the app to play with filters and see what pieces worked together in terms of scale and theme, which was important to her, being that the living room is the area of the home where she spends the most time. “I found a few great pieces, including my new black and white rug, which serves as the perfect backdrop that brings all of the natural, neutral, and feminine elements together for a chic, completed look,” she says.
When it came to making sure the kitchen and living room were separate entities despite the open floor plan, Wetterau relied on smart furniture placement, and made sure there was no blocked off space in the home—for example, a bookshelf or a set of curtains.
“Because the couch is parallel with the kitchen island, it serves as a room divider,” says Wetterau. “The height of the couch doesn’t obstruct the view of the living room from the kitchen, but instead creates a little walkway-type space between the living room and island that is left clear. The height difference between the couch and island is subtle, but just enough to imply that the intended usage for each space is separate—the island feels taller and ready for work, and the couch feels ready for relaxation.”
Another way the kitchen distinguishes itself from the living area? Through that gorgeous dark tile, of course. As it came with the home, Wetterau was a bit conflicted about how to style it because it didn’t really fit in terms of color scheme with the rest of the space.
“It took a lot of messing around to figure out how to make that large wall not feel like an ominous void. I eventually added stainless steel open shelves to match the countertops,” she explains. “I think the shelves and accessories help break up the wall and add a bit of warmth.”
The pale teal hue for the drawers and cabinets also give the kitchen a more relaxed feel, while the little trinkets taking up the shelves and coffee table are a testament to Wetterau’s eclectic collection. The lighting is modern and stylish, with Wetterau explaining, “I think a lot of people see lamps and lighting as an afterthought, but lighting is probably my favorite thing to shop for. The hanging kitchen pendants from West Elm were my first purchases for the kitchen, even before serious kitchen essentials like plates and bowls.”
Incorporating that breezy California charm into every nook of the space wasn’t easy, and the little area under the stairs was one such problem area. “I had absolutely no idea how to approach it!” says Wetterau. “It’s a very awkward, small space, and there are only so many things you can fit there. I wanted to make it its own standalone space, but not be too bold or extreme, so it still flowed well with the rest of the room. Since I like entertaining and always have friends over, I thought of adding the bench so it could be functional and provide more seating when needed.”
And of course, the Bowie artwork gives the area a touch of fun.
For the bedroom, Wetterau stuck to a muted tone in terms of wall color and bed decor, with light hues and Scandi whites taking over. However, the girly element comes through with the millennial pink accents, turning the bedroom into a more fun and feminine space. “It all started with the art, which I had before I moved in, so I worked around that,” says Wetterau.
The built-in bookcase also allows Wetterau’s interests to shine through, which she used to organize her books by color, allowing them to be a pop of interest on an otherwise blank canvas.
“I have always wanted a library with giant lofty ceilings, so why not have a miniature version in my bedroom?” she says. “My mom and I visited a lot of thrift and consignment stores searching for books with different colored spines. We ended up with some of the most hilarious romance novels, and a lot of books on random parts of the United States. Now, they sell colored books by the foot, but I don’t think you should miss an opportunity to go second-hand shopping: There is always a hidden gem to be found.”
The neon art behind the bed—as opposed to say, a traditional gallery wall—also adds an edgy vibe to an otherwise more minimalist approach, which Wetterau says was the point.
“While I was growing up, and all the way through college, people called me ‘weird,’” she says. “What I think they meant was, I didn’t mute any parts of my personality or suppress my interests in order to fit in. Instead of following trends to the letter or replicating something I’ve seen on TV, I choose pieces that feel fun, but also relevant to my life and personality. Embracing my ‘weirdness’ is likely what allows me to design the way I do, without producing a look that feels contrived or disingenuous.”
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