Published on November 18, 2019

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Photography by Carlos Naude

As far as Carlos Naude and Whitney Brown of Working Holiday Studio see it, flip is a four-letter word—even if that is technically what they did to this home in Los Angeles’s Silver Lake neighborhood. The couple behind Casa Mami, a dreamy eco-friendly Airbnb in Joshua Tree, worked with real-estate developer Zach Leigh and his wife, Lourdes Hernández, to transform an outdated Spanish-style two-bedroom into a bright bungalow perfect for a young family. (Maybe you’d like to buy it?)

“The word flip has a negative connotation—it sounds cheap almost,” Naude says. “Because of our location, we’re speaking to a consumer who is a little bit more design focused and not necessarily into the typical flip, where you get the most basic of basics.” Sure, the design is minimal—white walls and new oak floors make it especially pristine—but it’s far from being oversimplified. Furnished with warm-hued chairs, earthy bed linens, an accent rug or two, and one particularly striking leather sofa, the house also operates as a showroom. Potential owners can buy the pad with everything in it, or they can pick and choose what they like best. 

So how do you renovate a home without knowing anything about the future homeowners? Naude and Brown share how they pulled off an anti-flip flip.

Good Bones Are Everything

White, minimalist living roomPin It
Photography by Carlos Naude

Here’s a solid rule for buying a house with the intention of renovating it: Check out its preexisting conditions. “We learned from Zach that when you get into these types of projects, you don’t want to deal with structural or foundation problems—even plumbing and roofing issues,” Naude says. “This house was in great condition and it had a lot of character, like the most beautiful archways inside and Spanish-style tile outside.”

Before photo of outdated homePin It
Before
Before photo of outdated living roomPin It
Before

When you start with a baseline of high structural quality, updating appearances can actually be pretty easy—all it took to transform the exterior of this house was some paint. The couple worked with Backdrop to apply fresh coats of Supermoon outside and in. “The house had an amazing shape, and we did do some landscaping,” Naude says. “But it was all about making it look super-simple and clean.”

Mediterranean Vibes Add Warmth

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Minimalism may have mass appeal, but sometimes it can skew a little austere—which is why the couple elected for a twist. “There’s a trend that’s been happening recently where it’s Mediterranean-meets-Scandinavian-meets-California,” Naude says. “It’s minimal, but it’s not cold.”

White, minimalist kitchenPin It
Photography by Carlos Naude
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Photography by Carlos Naude

The differences are simple: Pale oak from ADM Flooring lightens up the space, and tawny leather dining chairs from Lawson-Fenning balance out the white walls. With a pared-down palette, it was important to the couple that they opt for furniture that felt thoughtful and interesting. “In California, I get fearful of going too boho. You see that in a lot of flips out here,” Brown says. “In the pieces we chose, there are hints from the ’70s—I think that helps to funk up a place while making it look special. I wanted the couch to pop. I like accents and artwork that stand out.”

Small Details Make a Difference

Bright bedroomPin It
Photography by Carlos Naude

But accents don’t necessarily need to take up a lot of space. In fact, sometimes the most minuscule ones make the biggest difference. Lighting from Rich Brilliant Willing and hardware from Emtek give this space a custom-built vibe. “Thanks to these little things, when you enter the house, you feel like it’s been done well,” Naude says. “The untrained eye might not know exactly why, but it’s the door hinges and doorknobs—all the way to the light fixtures.”

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Before
Before photo of bedroomPin It
Before

Bold Doesn’t Have to Mean Over-the-Top

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Photography by Alex Zarour

“We’re didn’t want to go crazy, but I do think it’s important to create something that has personality and doesn’t feel generic,” Naude says. White walls and oak floors may appeal to a broad range of people, but the couple chose to push beyond the basics in other parts of the home, like in the master bathroom, which boasts soft pink walls and dramatic black and white Clé tiles.

Black and white breakfast nookPin It
Photography by Alex Zarour

What they’ve created isn’t a one-size-fits-all deal, and Naude and Brown know that their eventual buyer will be someone who shares their aesthetic. Even so, they’ve left some room for future personalization without sacrificing their accents. Naude, a minimalist through and through, considers the home furnished as is to be complete, but the couple understands that a flip, even one that’s artfully staged with shoppable furniture, rugs, and accessories, is still an unfinished canvas. “You need to give people a vision,” Brown says. “You know: ‘A chair would go great here. A piece of art would be beautiful here. Or this is a great place to have your entry table for your keys and your mail when you walk in every day.’” By doing that, they’ve made the job of the eventual owners as easy as possible.

See more before-and-afters:
Can You Spot the Optical Illusion in This Mint Green Kitchen?
This Green Kitchen Ended Up Smaller Than Where It Started
This Tiny Bathroom Before-and-After Is Truly Jaw-Dropping

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