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When a couple moved into a sunny midcentury-modern house in the hills of Los Angeles, all kinds of custom cabinets, shelving, and even some furniture were already designed right into the layout. They might not have needed to bring a sofa -- but they brought in texture, warmth, and personal history to transform this contemporary house into a cheerful family home.
Jed Lind and Jessica de Ruiter used Carrara marble for the counters and the “waterfall” end of the dining peninsula. “We wanted the marble to separate the kitchen from the rest of the living area,” Lind says.
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The house was originally designed in 1953 for an artist, whose studio had this plywood wall unit, opposite, for storing supplies. Since the couple uses the area as a family room, they retrofitted it with lower cabinets for their daughter’s games, a spot for a TV, and shelves up top for books and their favorite objects.
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Jed Lind and Jessica de Ruiter in the family room of their home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.
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Sit in the Sun
A built-in combination planter/sofa/end tables/stairway anchors the living room, above. The plywood wasn’t treated with a UV filter; the couple wanted it to age naturally in the sunlight.
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Months before they moved in, Lind and de Ruiter planted boxwoods and creeping fig along a wall in the pool area so they could get a head start on bringing a cool, green, leafy texture to the wall.
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Lind and de Ruiter have always liked chevron and wanted to use it in a way that made sense for a modern house in Southern California; thus, the front door was pieced together with varying shades of Douglas fir.
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Small and Cozy
James’s playroom had an angled wall the couple didn’t like, so they built a wall unit with a daybed and bookshelves to square it off. “It’s such a cozy spot to read with James,” de Ruiter says. They unified mismatched children’s chairs they’d collected at various flea markets with a coat of paint. Lind made the table.
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Given how much they love the afternoon light and view, de Ruiter and Lind decided to forgo any window treatments. “It does feel private -- you just can’t imagine that other people have telescopes,” de Ruiter jokes. They finished the deck with Moroccan-inspired green-and-white tiles in a diamond pattern echoing that of several rugs inside.
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The office doubles as a guest room, thanks to a discreet Murphy bed and pull-out side tables in the wall unit. Lind built the L-shaped desk himself to allow for the footprint of the bed. When family visits from Canada, all the couple has to do is move the two Kaare Klint midcentury Danish safari chairs and the wooden table.
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Keep It Handy
In lieu of upper cabinets, they have a few open shelves that hold their everyday dishes and bowls. Their lower cabinets have been outfitted with drawers to store pots, pans, and larger items. “This kitchen is really functional,” Lind says. For that reason, they extended the marble slabs up the wall as an oversize backsplash that looks cool and is easy to clean.
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Bring in Pattern
“The geometric tile looks like textile on the terrace,” Lind says. “Gray and white might have been safer, but I like how the green connects with the outdoors.”
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Add Warmth with Brass
Throughout the house, they have accents of brass, like this bedside lamp. Lind prefers unlacquered satin brass: “It’s a beautiful metal, and when it ages on its own, it only gets better.”
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“Originally I was not a huge fan of the white cinder block,” de Ruiter says. Wherever it appears in the house, they try to soften it -- like with this bedouin rug they got on their honeymoon in Siwa Oasis, Egypt.
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Maximize Marble and Stone
“Natural stone looks so elegant,” de Ruiter says. “It’s dramatic and beautiful.” For the powder room, they chose a heavy slab of travertine with a golden hue.
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