It’s a good time to be selling BoDesign in Southern California. The region’s current bend towards Modernist and Contemporary design means there are countless spaces awaiting the brand’s clean-lined furnishings, as practical as they are urbane, and with the ability to look as au courant today as they likely will for decades to come.
“I just spoke with an architect a few minutes ago,” says Stephanie Duval, franchisee of BoConcept’s Los Angeles and Costa Mesa stores along with her husband Stephane. “She said she bought furniture from BoConcept for a project 15 years ago.” So impressed was the architect with the quality of the pieces, recounts Duval, she was turning to BoConcept once again, to furnish a new project.
Started in the early 1950s by two Danish cabinetmakers, BoConcept has grown to nearly 300 stores internationally, with consumer demand, says Duval, driven by the love of the brand’s “functionality, design, and quality.” Cost is another.
“We are an affordable luxury,” she points out. “Our price point is excellent.” Customers, notes Duval, include those looking to furnish their homes, along with professionals who turn to BoConcept for pieces to adorn boutique hotels, restaurants and corporate spaces. “What architects and designers love about our brand,” she says, “is the fact that we customize, and are so modular that it’s very easy for businesses to use our products.”
It’s this mix of pragmatic design, sophisticated image—BoConcept pieces are often sculptural in look—and the ability for buyers to customize to their heart’s content that is at the core of BoConcept’s calling card and appeal.
When browsing for a new sofa, for instance, one can select the shade and fabric: textured wool, corded velvet and soft leather from South African cowhides are among the substantial options. Materials, Duval divulges, are sourced from around the world, and among them is wood from Canada, fabric from Italy and leather from South America.
Finding the ideal furniture and accessories for one’s space, however, is the province of an interior designer. Someone who understands the interplay of scale, daily use, color and personal style, among other factors, when it comes to selecting the right pieces.
For this, BoConcept offers an in-home designer service. “First, we have a talk with our customer to really understand what they’re looking for,” says Duval of the process. Her team of design consultants studies how customers live and learn what they like. “We don’t sell a piece of furniture,” she remarks. “We sell a concept.”
It’s a concept that translates fluidly across geography, architectural styles, and home size. A modular design, such as the popular Amsterdam, for example, can morph from a sofa to a coffee table, serve as a sectional for the entire family, or as seating for two.
And as one’s place called home evolves, from that first shoebox apartment to a full-fledged house, purchases from BoConcept travel with their owners, and can be seamlessly expanded. A two-seater sofa might be amended with a matching corner sofa, an ottoman, or other complementary pieces from the brand’s expansive collection of design furniture, lighting, and accessories. “You can furnish a very small place in Asia or furnish a huge home in California,” says Duval of the brand’s seemingly endless options. “It’s very exciting.” boconcept.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF BOCONCEPT
Hospitality entrepreneur Dustin Lancaster—the mind behind Hotel Covell, Chinatown wine bar and bistro Oriel, among many other well-known projects—had to have patience in undertaking his latest project. It was more than 10 years ago that Lancaster first laid his eyes on the two-story historic building that was home to the Los Angeles Fire Department from 1927 to 1980.
So, in 2016, when the owner asked Lancaster to create a hotel “like Covell” there, he agreed without hesitation. Also an obvious choice for the entrepreneur: partnering with developer (and friend) Tyler Stonebreaker, founder, and CEO of Creative Space. And for the interior design, Lancaster immediately knew he could count on Sally Breer, co-founder of ETC.etera, who previously worked with him on Hotel Covell and Oriel, so this project was a natural continuation of their story.
Last April, the Firehouse Hotel opened in Los Angeles’s Arts District, becoming the very first boutique hospitality project in the neighborhood. Behind the original façade, with its two red doors that pay homage to the building’s past, guests discover a light-filled ground floor dedicated to the community.
It comprises the lobby-reception area; a café; a shop with products curated by Breer’s ETC.etera business partner Jake Rodehuth-Harrison; and a bar and restaurant—led by chef Ashley Abodeely and pastry chef Rose Lawrence—with a patio. The space beyond the patio that was originally used as the firefighters’ handball court has been transformed into a private dining room that can accommodate 30 people seated or 40 to 50 people for cocktail parties.
Bespoke items created exclusively for the hotel by Los Angeles-based designers and makers such as Clare V., Block Shop, Hedley & Bennett and Robert Siegel, as well as design pieces and artworks (from curator and dealer Jonathan Pessin) by Atelier de Troupe, Brendan Ravenhill Studio, Converso and Wolfum, among others, personalize the spaces with a Southern Californian vibe.
All but one of the project’s nine rooms are located on the second floor and each has a door painted a different color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and white—the black door is on the ground floor), setting the tone of the décor inside. One key element for Breer was to “first and foremost respect the architecture,” she says.
The original wood and concrete floors, factory windows, exposed wood-truss ceilings, pressed-tin panels and niches initially used to house statuettes of the Virgin Mary to protect the firefighters were all preserved to honor the place’s bygone aesthetic and spirit. According to Lancaster, the Firehouse Hotel is “very much about LA love.” Retro and elegant, quirky and cozy, the property has all the ingredients to seduce the local community. firehousela.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: BY AARON HAXTON
When the great Maria Callas stood on the stage at La Scala, she imposed herself like no other, singing with such force, her songs were enough to shake the chandelier from its moorings. If not this precise scene, then it is a close approximation of one similar that designers Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus conjured up to create their Neverending Glory collection for Czech glassmaking company LASVIT.
For the design duo, if not all the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare proposed, then perhaps it should be. That is the idea that propelled them to take a theatrical direction in contemporizing the form of classical chandeliers at historic opera houses and concert halls—from La Scala in Milan, Palais Garnier in Paris, and Metropolitan Opera in New York, to the Czech Republic’s Estates Theater in Prague, and Bolshoi Theater in Moscow—to innovate a line to illuminate the au courant abode.
In Wielgus’s words, “The idea for the Neverending Glory collection came to us when we realized how many amazing old crystal chandeliers there are, and that it would be beautiful to give them a fresh form and bring them into modern living and workspaces.”
The collection’s ability to adapt stylistically to an array of residential environments make its exquisitely crafted pendants quite suitable for life in transitional times, when, increasingly, a home’s conventional guest room might also serve as a workspace, a garage loft might be a private studio, and so on.
To this end are options: Neverending Glory offers pendants in three different sizes—Neverending Glory Small debuted last year at Maison et Objet in Paris at half the size of the original collection, and another size, which is halfway between the small and large fixtures, releases this year—in original clear, opal, iridescent and other color versions. Variety of size and shades means more possibilities for styling, either solo, for a single statement, or clustered, like stars.
Striking looks does not belie the fact that this is a solidly constructed collection, one that reflects the art and tradition of hand-blown glass, particularly in the Czech Republic, of which it claims mastery. In the hands of LASVIT designers, it offers precise and rarified beauty.
A product of this rich heritage of craftsmanship, the Neverending Collection is, much like LASVIT itself, a bridge between Old World and New. The recipient of the design “Oscar” at Salone del Mobile, LASVIT is the result of the Czech glassmaking tradition, blending its hand-blown Bohemian soul with a reverence for new technologies and cutting-edge design. In this context, Neverending Glory is not only brilliant, but it also puts the direction of contemporary design in a whole new light. lasvit.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF LASVIT
Designer Maya Lin is of a different nature. At just 21 years old, while still a Yale undergrad, she entered the winning design for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC, one of 27,000 submissions. Lin’s spare concept—its polished black granite, register of names and horizontal orientation—intuited a very different public memorial, one that veered dramatically from the usual visual rhetoric, and was immediately controversial. Decades later, the memorial is an American treasure and Lin, no longer the disruptor, is perceived much like her groundbreaking design—distinctly and significantly visioned.
A vision like Lin’s is as remarkably rare as it is prolifically applied; both artist and architect, her range of work pendulates from memorials, cultural centers, and other buildings to sculpture and large-scale environmental installations. Her projects reference a variety of geologic phenomena. Among these are site-specific earth works, including her well-regarded wave fields—undulations of grassy terrain in unexpected settings.
These sculptural mounds of earth express Lin’s larger reverence for land and landscapes, and are a form of environmental activism. A native of rural Ohio, Lin grew up when Rachel Carson released her environmental treatise Silent Spring and in an interview with Bill Moyers Lin described her work as “about appreciating and being respectful of nature.”
This includes her architecture, both private and public projects, convergences of Eastern and Western worlds, of which her additions to the Children’s Defense Fund’s Alex Haley Farm in Tennessee are an exquisite example. Lin graced these 157-acre grounds with a modern vernacular via the Riggio-Lynch Interfaith Chapel, which she designed as a place of cultural solidarity and sanctuary after the events of Sept. 11, 2001. Shaped like an ark, it soars precisely for its simplicity and expresses an Asian sensibility.
Constructed from cypress siding with fir for its roof, deck and beams, the Chapel connects to a contrasting concrete-block building conceptualized to resemble a storage building commonly found in shipyards. The grounds also feature the Chapel’s vernacular opposite: the Langston Hughes Library. Built into a existing cantilevered barn structure to maintain the building’s integrity but given a new interior skin, the 2,000-square-foot library is a historically American building and Lin’s experiment in lines and light.
One doesn’t so much as encounter a building or a piece of art by Lin as experience it—physically and in a sensorial way. Her works seize on empathy and evoke emotion yet avoid firm conclusions of any kind, leaving responses to viewers. The perception of Lin as primary to interdisciplinary design, however, is firm. Distinguished with a number of accolades, Lin was named to President Barack Obama’s 2016 class of Presidential Medal of Freedom winners, alongside Frank Gehry. And yet she is in a class by herself.
PHOTOGRAPHS: (CLOCKWISE FROM TOP) COURTESY OF THE CHILDREN’S DEFENSE FUND, SCOTT SODERBERG/MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY, MIKE COHEA/BROWN UNIVERSITY, AND SOUTHERN POVERTY LAW CENTER
From a decades-old VW van, aspiring actor Spencer Falls pulled up curbside on Abbott Kinney to sell a few flowers. More impulse than business at the time, “The whole idea was a bit of a laugh, really,” he says, confessing no real intention to start a brand.
Falls was between jobs and thought of a hustle to “make a little money” and “fulfill a creative void.” Not only a son of New Zealand, but of an orchardist and fine artist as well, Falls didn’t lack for experience or clients. He rolled on and today is the founding artist of growing brand, The Unlikely Florist.
Not long ago Falls put his van in park to set up shop in a 2,000-square-foot studio in the heart of Venice. With good design bones, an artsy, industrial vibe and a soaring 25-foot-high ceiling, the warehouse is “a place to call home, a place to dream up and realize large-scale installations, a place to offer the community of Venice a place to congregate with our Jazz nights, and a place to share with people who need a place to shoot their product or host their own events,” says Falls. “It’s a Proteus of a work space.”
And not without its rustic charms, a patina of rusted walls and exposed beams, not unlike the working warehouse space of a hip neighborhood startup. “Reclaimed wood frames doorways, act as a living wall and structure, to frame a home made out house,” describes Falls.
“It also frames giant chalkboards and is stacked in corners ready to create, well, whatever it’s needed for. One of the walls is coated with a healthy amount of dried flowers hanging upside down.” It’s a work-in-progress, Falls notes, but a match for L.A.’s easy aesthetic that vibrates the cool bohemian style of its design-driven enclave.
Like any creative, Falls has more ideas than hours in the day and a number of future design plans to execute. While rare, brightly-hued blooms are what characterize The Unlikely Florist-branded arrangements, its studio, while fragrant, strikes a more muted, unfussy tone. Natural beauty is clearly a reference point and a signature of his homeland.
Falls describes New Zealand as a hardworking, no BS kind of place where people aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty. “From a style and aesthetic perspective,” he says. “I guess that mine is an organic look.”
This is evident throughout the studio, which is available to rent for events and productions. For those looking to stop and smell the flowers, extra accommodations, complete with fresh florals, complimentary beverages and a movie projector and screen, is offered as well.
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF FANN CHU
SoCal locales and celebrities from far and wide know Palm Springs as the perfect destination for spending either a relaxing or festive weekend. Design, nature and culture converge here, where annual events like the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Modernism Week, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, BNP Paribas Tennis Open and several PGA Tour golf tournaments take place.
There are many hotels in the city, too, but only one hospitality project with a swimming pool on its roof—Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs. Designed by Chris Pardo from Elemental Architecture, the pool anchors a glamorous environment. The outdoor terrace, inspired by its desert surroundings, provides beautiful views of the San Jacinto Mountains, six cabanas and several lounge chairs that invite visitors to rest in this unique setting.
“Palm Springs has stunning architecture and design, an inspiring landscape, and a stylishly cool spirit that’s exactly what the Kimpton brand is all about,” says Abe Liao, general manager of Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs. The exterior of the seven-story building comprises concrete blocks punctuated with pop-out boxes and balconies, providing a sense of movement and dynamism.
A perforated metal screen filters the sunlight and adds texture. Inside, the airy and bright spaces are characterized by their urban and minimalist style with references to the desert. The public areas, 153 rooms decorated with blue, green and cream tones, two restaurants (a Mediterranean café, Juniper Table, on the ground floor; and 4 Saints, a rooftop bar and restaurant) and two bars (Window Bar and High Bar) feature artworks and furniture with pure lines. Spread over 2,500 square feet, the presidential suite occupies the top floor of Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs, offering an exceptional panorama. The hotel also features several areas for events, meetings and weddings.
Awbrey Cook Rogers McGill Architects + Interiors, architects Dion McCarthy and Mark Kirkhart from DesignARC, Powerstrip Studio, Chris Pardo and the design team at Kimpton all contributed to shape an architecturally striking project that pays tribute to the mid-century legacy and modernism of Palm Springs, with a contemporary twist.
Also inspired by the beautiful natural light and surrounding environment, Kimpton The Rowan Palm Springs features easy access to hiking trails, encouraging visitors to enjoy nature. Shops, restaurants and the Palm Springs Art Museum are just around the corner too, allowing guests to discover the city’s vibrant cultural scene. rowanpalmsprings.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF KIMPTON THE ROWAN PALM SPRINGS
“A house has to reflect the personalities of the people who live in it and their sense of style,” says interior designer Jay Jeffers. “Not the person who designed it.” Always striving to create spaces with soul that feel collected over time, Jeffers and his team worked hard to help the owners of this Portola Valley, California, dwelling to make their dream home.
The brand new house, designed by Noel Cross+Architects and built Eric B. Evans Construction, is an impressive 10,000 square feet, including about 1,600 square feet of terraces. Eager to move in as soon as possible, the owners—a couple and their young son—asked Jeffers to complete the interiors in no more than 10 months. “Obviously, the aesthetic called for modern, but our clients are a family with one young child, so it needed to serve dual purposes—grown-up cocktail parties, 4-year-old birthday parties, movie night on the couch and the like,” says Jeffers.
To soften the sharp-angled glass and steel structure, textiles were introduced in all areas, starting with the drapery panels in the entry corridor. “The furniture is a mixture of both off-the-rack and one-of-a-kind artisan pieces, like the showstopper coffee table by Los Angeles artist Stefan Bishop carved from sinuous blocks of Monterey fir,” says Jeffers. “[It is] the centerpiece of the living area, which began as a big white box with stunning views. Its organic shape grounds the high-ceilinged space, unites the soft, low-slung furnishings, and connects to the breathtaking landscape. And ultimately it helps provide that design essential—a place for your eyes to rest.”
A Poliform sofa, a custom rug covering the entire floor, a Holly Hunt table, Tom Faulkner’s Havana chairs covered in a blue Kvadrat wool and the Grand Dynamic Stilk chandelier by Daikon complement the decor. Through glass doors, the living and dining rooms open entirely to the pool terrace furnished with Holly Hunt chairs, and a sofa and loungers by RODA.
In the family room, which also offers a sublime panorama, a gray linen Montauk sectional combines with a Lumifer ottoman with the Dory fabric by Scalamandré and Bernhardt chairs upholstered in the Prati geometric pattern by Gastón y Daniela. In different areas of the house, wallpapers add other visual surprises such as the Fornasetti Acquario fish motif by Cole & Son in the child’s bedroom.
Art is featured throughout the project. Adorning the stairwell is a series of photographs by Michael Kenna from Dolby Chadwick Gallery. Some of the travel shots, taken by one of the owners, are also on display, making the home even more personal. “I have always felt that a successfully designed home is one that feels wonderful the minute you walk in but you aren’t really sure why,” Jeffers explains in his new book, Be Bold: Bespoke Modern Interiors. “It’s that perfect umami combination of drama and balance.” This 10-month miracle project is proof his belief is true. jayjeffers.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF MATTHEW MILLMAN
Around 150 miles south of San Francisco, Santa Lucia Preserve is an exclusive, 20,000-acre private development with exceptional homes that are restricted in size to protect nature. One of them was conceived by the team at Feldman Architecture, whose philosophy focuses around the desire to create “buildings that sit gracefully and lightly on the earth: beautiful, healthful, and soulful spaces that enhance our clients’ lives, our communities, and the environment.”
Spread over 2,800 square feet, the two-bedroom main house including a guest unit with one bedroom was built on a single level and features low rooflines, resulting in a compact structure. One of the main objectives was to connect, both literally and figuratively, the S-shaped property to the site.
The curved rammed earth walls—which follow the natural contours of the surroundings and act as a thermal mass—and the concrete floors help to regulate temperatures from day to night. Throughout this project, Feldman Architecture explored a contemporary version of traditional ranch ideals in order to meet the owners’ brief.
The open plan—informally centered on the kitchen—enables a strong connection between the interior and exterior spaces. In the main living room, expansive glass panels and sliding doors oriented toward the south open up to a porch and an outdoor patio, which form a versatile entertaining area. The curved roof mimics the hills and extends to protect the interior spaces from the sun.
The decor features a soft color and material palette, and an abundance of wood (in the ceilings, furniture, windows and door frames), providing warmth and nodding to the midcentury aesthetic.
Carefully composed by Revolver Design, the lighting complements the atmosphere. The house also offers 270-degree views that are constantly accentuated by the relationship between the building and nature. The landscaping by Joni L. Janecki & Associates pairs boldness with simplicity, and was a key element in this harmonious project.
Several sustainable techniques were used, as well, including natural ventilation, passive heating and cooling systems, the installation of three large water storage tanks—with a capacity for 27,300 gallons of rainwater—to cover all of the property’s irrigation, and photovoltaic panels on the south-facing roof to meet all the house’s energy needs. The conscious design resulted in the home being recognized as the first LEED Platinum custom home on California’s Central Coast.
“We take seriously our obligations and opportunities as architects to respect, and even restore, the natural environment,” says the Feldman Architecture team. “Drawing upon past wisdoms as well as contemporary building science, we aspire to create structures that move architecture to ecologically and ethically responsible designs.” feldmanarchitecture.com
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF JOE FLETCHER
“It’s really an extension of the house,” says Matt Preuss of the outdoor spaces he and his crew transform into innovative, fresh-air lounges. When he first lays eyes on a new client’s yard, the landscape designer and builder has a goal: “To erase those defined areas between indoor living spaces and the outside. To create a seamless transition.”
It’s a skill and art that Preuss has honed since he first fell in love with landscaping as a 14-year-old in Indiana. “My mother was a real estate agent,” he explains, “so I cut grass and ran my own maintenance company all through high school.” Since those adolescent days, “you could say working outside has been in my blood,” he adds.
What followed was a landscape architecture degree at Ball State University in Indiana, then a move to Southern California, lured by its weather. It was a fine fit for Preuss, with its agreeable year-round climate and inhabitants who yearn to spend as much time as possible outdoors—from sunny poolside days to starry nights in front of a crackling fire—and in stylish comfort.
In 2004, Preuss started Cutting Edge Landscape Design in the South Bay, titling it a landscape design-build firm in order to describe the breadth of his services. “We’re about outdoor living,” he says. “Your backyard is our domain.” A domain that Preuss and his crew can reconfigure with elaborate green spaces, decked with pergolas.
Covered patios. Fireplaces and fire pits. Swimming pools and spas. Barbecue stations. Drought tolerant planting, including xeriscaping. “It’s gardening that doesn’t require a lot of water,” explains Preuss. “It needs minimal water and has a minimal look, without it looking too desert-like.”
Preuss and his designers work to create strategic outdoor symphonies on yards big and small, in coastal communities from Manhattan Beach to Newport Beach. (His firm’s design showroom in Los Alamitos, is open to the public.) He describes this approach as “working outside the box, and inside the box, to grant my homeowners every wish they have.” His clients, mostly affluent, rarely say ‘No’ when it comes to his designs. Instead, they typically ask: “What more can we do?”
To execute at this level, Preuss stocks his firm with well-vetted designers, most of them college graduates. He himself holds a general contractor’s license in addition to a landscape contracting one, and those working in the field with him, he says, focus on hands-on precision: “I tell my guys, ‘The Devil is in the details.’
” When first looking at a yard that needs improvement, says Preuss, “I can see what needs to be done pretty quickly.” It’s a vision honed by decades of experience, and refreshed by visits to trade shows and to luxe resorts with his son and wife. “They tend to have nice outdoor living spaces,” he says, “and I like to see how those work.”
It’s all in the pursuit of uplifting outdoor spaces, and having them match or surpass favorite indoor rooms. “We’re going to give you a fresh idea,” says Preuss. “That fresh idea of custom outdoor living. You’ve built that million-dollar house—let’s create that same design outside.”
10900 Los Alamitos Blvd.
Los Alamitos, CA
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF CUTTING EDGE
“I’ve been an artist and a designer my entire life,” confesses Jeff Stimpfig, owner, designer and contractor at JDS Outdoor Designs. “I eventually evolved my natural creative skills into the world of residential architecture, landscape design and construction.”
Indeed, at a young age, the Manhattan Beach-born Stimpfig showed an interest in architecture, drawing floor plans, buildings, and structures. His interest in design led him to an education in landscape architecture and he launched his Hermosa-based business in 2004. “JDS Outdoor Designs has heavily evolved over the years, starting out doing more softscaping, landscaping and planting projects,” he explains. “Today … our projects consist more of hardscaping and architectural elements within the space,” says Stimpfig. We execute all size projects, however, our forte lives within this arena of landscape architecture.”
JDS Outdoor Designs services include pool and spa builds, irrigation, potting and lighting installations, outdoor kitchens and dining areas, larges pergolas and fire pit lounges, as well as rooftop decks and full exterior makeovers, among other projects.
“We are very lucky to live in a place where we can use our outdoor spaces 365 days a year, which is why we focus so much of our energy on transforming these areas into livable functioning rooms,” Stimpfig says. “Why not utilize and maximize your yards to their full potential? This means creating areas within it that work much like your interior spaces.”
Characterized by its modern style, the JDS Outdoor Designs team is currently working on nine projects. This includes one that blends contemporary and traditional references through Cape Cod accents mixed with clean contours and materials; another follows a strictly straight-line approach.
“Our primary focus is to create outdoor transformations from small projects to large ones with a common goal to enhance our clients’ outdoor living spaces, providing an indoor-outdoor effect,” explains Stimpfig. “Our clients typically understand the importance of design, architecture and how essential it is to take full advantage of their outdoor spaces.
Our ultimate goal is to first and foremost listen to their needs and execute accordingly; however, it’s also paramount that we show our clients new ideas of what they can do and what potential lives within their outdoor areas.”
To help imagine the final result, JDS Outdoor Designs uses technology, which has become a real asset in differentiating the firm from its competition. “It gives us the ability to visualize exterior spaces, create them in digital format and build them into actual living spaces,” Stimpfig says. “There are no surprises for our clients because we present them with multiple drawings, 3D renderings, CAD drawings, material research and from there, we execute the plan.”
Inspired by many residential architects in the Los Angeles area, Stimpfig translates “their ability to create well-thought-out homes with multiple functioning spaces throughout the structure” to outdoor spaces. With more than 180 projects already complete, JDS Outdoor Designs continues to grow its portfolio based on a holistic approach, where every detail matters and becomes an essential part of the whole.
jds outdoor designs
1060 Aviation Blvd.
Hermosa Beach, CA
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF DOMINIK WROBLEWSKI
“If you watch little children, and see what they’re doing at a very young age,” says designer Caroline Burke, “it’s probably what they should be doing at an older age.” What was her childhood playtime obsession? “I spent hours and hours setting up Barbie’s townhouse,” she says with a laugh. “I never actually wanted to play Barbie. I just wanted to set up and rearrange her furniture.”
These days, the accomplished designer, who runs an eponymous interior design firm, finds joy and creative balance in projects big and small. A large project will have her collaborating with architects—Pritzkat and Johnson, Laney LA and Grant Fitzpatrick of KAA among them, along with Doug Leach and Louis Tomaro—and contractors to craft a home’s interior from the ground up.
“This includes selecting all materials for bathrooms, kitchens and floors, as well as all the furniture design,” she explains. A small project, on the other hand, might span only one or two rooms. “A new kitchen design or bathroom remodel design,” says Caroline. “Or perhaps a client wants me to design and furnish a new bedroom, dining or family room.”
A specialty of the designer is her work with real estate agents, who bring her clients who have just purchased a home. It’s a business niche that has grown in recent times, spurred on by a design-show culture that’s raised the bar of expectation among buyers when it comes to how a home, in 2019, should look.
“Real estate agents can have someone to partner up with and hand off their clients to,” she says. “Most newly purchased homes need either redecorating or, at the very least, a bit of refreshing and some new furniture.”
Flexibility, practicality and classic beauty are keywords of Caroline’s business and aesthetic. Her line of furniture, for instance, was created out of a need to offer high-caliber, custom goods that were not available in the marketplace. “If you see an upholstered piece in a project on my website,” she explains, “we designed and manufactured it.
This control allows me to offer my clients quality furniture pieces that fit their rooms properly—and at a discounted cost.” Ergonomics is another focus. A room must not only be beautiful and transformative, she adds, but feel good physically too.
Her Manhattan Beach studio is a creative hub where she finds clients are most comfortable and inspired. “We’ll do a working meeting,” says Caroline. “We have an extensive library of resources that include fabrics and furniture styles, along with tile, finishes and a variety of other materials. I’m always collecting the latest and greatest.”
As a client-centric designer, she points out the necessity of knowing the desires of her clients. “We don’t just listen to them,” she states. “We hear them and understand what they want. It’s the key to a successful project.”
For Caroline, taking care of clients is thinking about them for the long haul—years after the initial flash of a project has faded. “The bulk of my work is timeless,” she says. “I am not a really trendy designer.”
The bigger pieces in a home are going to be classic, she explains, while splashier touches are found in smaller pieces, such as a side table or pillows. “Later on, when the client wants to change it up, and add some more funk or fun,” she adds thoughtfully, “it’s not costing them a lot to do that.”
designs & associates
1020 Manhattan Beach Blvd.
Manhattan Beach, CA
PHOTOGRAPHS: COURTESY OF CAROLINE BURKE DESIGNS & ASSOCIATES
“Sexy, functional and fun” is how listing agent Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty describes this one-of-a-kind, Alex Pettas-designed property at 1172 N. Doheny Drive, nestled behind black obsidian gates in the exclusive Lower Bird Streets of Hollywood Hills. What exactly leads to such a bold statement? Perhaps it’s the modern, Vanina Alfaro-designed living space highlighted by an abundance of light, water, glass, Italian stone, cedar and European oak flooring throughout.
Or maybe it’s one of the eye-catching features—like the biometric, oversized door that opens to a cascading infinity-edge pool and bonsai trees; soaring great room with disappearing glass doors and floor-to-ceiling Italian marble fireplace; and decadent master suite with its own living room and designer showroom closet.
But no doubt it all hinges upon the ultimate highlight: a 1,000-square-foot rooftop deck with a built-in bar and Jacuzzi that is, Bacal says, simply “off-the-charts cool.”
1172 N. DOHENY DRIVE
LOWER BIRD STREETS
6,485 SQ. FT.
Listed by Ben Bacal of Rodeo Realty
Coming to the market soon is this brand-new coastal contemporary masterpiece custom built by Hermosa Beach architect Luc Berne, complete with high-end finishes and features, and plenty of seamless indoor/outdoor living space.
Found in the sought-after Sand Section of Manhattan Beach, the five-bedroom property will feature 4,150 square feet of living space on three stories upon completion. Among the highlights: a gourmet kitchen sporting Wolf and Sub-Zero appliances; tea room that opens to an expansive terrace; and luxe master suite with a walk-in closet, and bath with soaking tub and private deck.
There’s a convenient surfer’s bath, mudroom and wine cellar too. Perhaps the best part? A prime location just a few short blocks from nearby beaches and the popular downtown district of Manhattan Beach. “It’s rare in Southern California when you get to check almost all of the boxes when shopping for a home,” says listing agent Ed Kaminsky. “This home checks them all.”
409 3RD STREET
SAND SECTION OF MANHATTAN BEACH
4,150 SQ. FT.
Listed by Ed Kaminsky of Kaminsky Real Estate Group
PHOTOGRAPHS: SEAN GORDON LUXURY IMAGERY (TOP) AND KVI360 (BOTTOM EXTERIOR)