Designer Kate Lester created a modern farmhouse vibe in this California home with the help of the homeowner’s vintage treasures. Many of the other furnishings reflect her Oklahoma roots, while architectural details, contemporary light fixtures and unique flooring exude a relaxed aesthetic. Layered throughout the space, which the family of four share with their cat, are cherished heirlooms, including the wife’s grandmother’s china and a beloved wooden dining table. “If everything were new, the house wouldn’t be nearly as cool,” says Kate, who is based in Hermosa Beach, CA.
To transform this Manhattan Beach, CA property into a modern farmhouse fit for a family of four, Kate leaned on a dazzling blend of contemporary and rustic touches.
Add simple wood paneling.
Kate used simple wood panels behind shelves and chose a wooden range hood for a hint of a farmhouse feel while sticking to a classic black-and-white palette throughout the house. To showcase the owner’s impressive collection of vintage finds, she played with placement and scale by propping up favorite pieces instead of hanging them.
For a similar look: Blake White Server, mybobs.com; Ivy Bronx Kamren Armed Sconces, wayfair.com.
Replace dining room seating with a rustic bench.
Kate made a cushion and attached it to a wooden bench with recycled-leather straps. The table belonged to the homeowner’s grandmother, and the fabric for the chair is reminiscent of vintage grain sacks.
For a similar look: Whitney Antique Linen With Weathered Grey Bench By Liberty, overstock.com.
Fake upscale drawer fronts.
Love the look of small individual drawers but need more storage? Ask your contractor to make grooves in a basic large dresser to give the illusion of smaller drawers, then affix the hardware of your choice, Kate suggests.
For a similar look: Farrow Rustic Coffee Table by Linon Home, bedbathandbeyond.com; Wesley Microfiber Sofa with Rolled Arms by Lifestyle Solutions, homedepot.com.
Go for high contrast.
Kate nailed the look with a black canopy bed to ground the room and a reclaimed-wood beam on the ceiling. “Browns, blacks and other dark tones add instant sophistication,” she says.
For a similar look: Dubay Canopy Bed by Hashtag Home, wayfair.com.
Put a farmhouse sink in the powder room.
Kate took a few surprising risks in the powder room. Along with a farmer’s sink in a striking black hue, she used rich blue wall panels to draw the eye to a floral wall (and ceiling) covering made of vintage paper.
For a similar look: Blanco Precis Anthracite Single Bowl Undermount Sink, lowes.com.
Add striking black accents.
A shower door with a transom opening allows steam to escape and adds interest. Patterned tile breaks up an otherwise all-white room.
Build a daybed in a corner.
Kate transformed one end of the playroom into a cozy area for lounging by adding an enormous custom daybed topped with a mattress-style cushion and storage underneath that the homeowner uses for wrapping paper. She finished off the laid-back space with mismatched pillows and an intriguing gallery corner complete with vintage polo mallets.
For a similar look: Carmelita Full Daybed, wayfair.com; Woven Nayland Throw Blanket, anthropologie.com; Planets Decal, crateandbarrel.com; Block Print Cotton Suri Area Rug, worldmarket.com; “Ask More Questions” Print, Anthony Burrill.
A version of this feature appeared in the July/August 2020 issue of Good Housekeeping.
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