Rocky Barnes and Her Husband Designed Their L.A. Home as If It Were a Five-Star Hotel
The giant orange daybed screams “staycation.”
Published Feb 24, 2023 1:53 AM
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This is a family story, really. In 2019, two weeks after content creator Rachel “Rocky” Barnes and photographer Matthew Cooper closed on their Los Angeles home—“The worst house on the block, by far,” Cooper says—Barnes found out she was pregnant.
Although the three-bedroom ranch looked like a classic 1958 home from the outside, inside it was a total hodgepodge of styles and materials. Terracotta floors with Greek columns. Sliding glass doors leading to nowhere. An original stove, but obviously nonworking. Or as Barnes puts it: “Mid-century meets ’80s meets a bad remodel.”
By the time they’d gotten to the permit phase, their son, Jones, had been born back in New York, where they were living. It was January 2020—you might see where this is going. “We were one of the last permits to get approved pre-COVID,” Cooper says.
Thankfully, though, most of the home’s bones were good (minus some mold and asbestos that they had to clear out), and the L-shaped layout didn’t need to change. Instead, architect Yoram Lepair opened up doorways, added a parapet, and trimmed the eaves of the roof, which were blocking light and, more important, views to the epic backyard, home to a pool and soaring palm trees.
To anyone living in a landlocked state, the open-air home looks like where you’d want to spend a permanent vacation, and for the couple, that was part of the plan. For example, they chose their primary bedroom because it was the one whose glass doors opened up directly to the pool. “It’s a very zen feeling in the morning when you’re lifting the curtains,” Barnes says. “You feel like you’re at a hotel.” And they didn’t change the plaster walls of their backyard because it reminded them of the Amangiri, a desert resort in Utah.
But when it came to design, which Hawk & Co’s Summer Jensen came on board to help with, Barnes and Cooper didn’t always agree. As in, Barnes is a maximalist who gravitates toward bright colors, and Cooper is a fan of a more clean, industrial look. “It was basically me trying to add a color explosion, and Matt reeling me in,” Barnes says.
They did agree on the overall vibe, though, which meant a calming palette and a sanctuary-like space filled with collected objects from their travels around the world and from designers they love. The oil painting above their bed was a gift from Barnes’s uncle in Hawaii. Her thrifted pottery rests on the kitchen’s open shelving. And Sarah Ellison’s Instagram-famous Huggy chair swivels in the living room.
One area where Cooper had little say was in Barnes’s walk-in closet, a former bedroom that they transformed into a space where her impressive hat collection could hang along the ceiling. (Don’t worry; Cooper’s custom clothing storage spans an entire wall of their primary bedroom.) Barnes considers it her office because it’s where she styles outfits—in addition to her own content creation, she’s a model who once appeared in a Justin Bieber music video. Similarly, Cooper’s home office is all his own, and it’s where you’ll find a denim blue sofa, a fireplace, and, in the afternoons, Jones hanging out.
And while they didn’t design the home with their growing family in mind (now they have a second son, Charlie), it turns out that some of their natural choices just so happened to work out. The open kitchen, for instance, is great for casual kid meals and entertaining friends with young ones. But nowadays, the four of them mostly lounge in the backyard and play on the massive orange circular daybed. It’s almost like a family vacation—except they live here now.