The primary color of this growing family's California home is white. That is, the new kind of white -- relaxed, lived in, with not even a hint of preciousness.
Photographer Amy Neunsinger shares this light and airy home in Los Angeles with her husband Shawn Gold, her two children, and Amy's mother.
If a hearth serves as the symbol for the happiness of a home, Amy and Shawn's was especially hard-won: "It was like an archaeological dig," Amy says of removing the original's flimsy mantel and layers of limestone tiles. The new mantel and old sconces were painted white, and the shelf holds shells collected on trips to the Bahamas and Mustique. The magnolia print is Amy's own work, and it's flanked by an iPod in a Bose SoundDock (the couple's space-saving replacement for a stereo and CD racks) and a Buddha from Thomas Schoos Design.
No curtains. No ruffles. Not even so much as a single slat of blind. Amy often uses her kitchen as a photo studio, so she maximizes light by leaving the windows naked (the property is edged with a 9-foot fence for privacy). Adding to the sun-drenched airiness are the white frame-and-panel cabinets fitted, on the upper portions, with metal mesh hardware cloth (a refined version of chicken wire), since it's less expensive than glass.
In this house, there's no distinction between formal and everyday china: You need what you need and then get rid of the extra stuff," Amy says. Her favorites are easy to grab from open shelves on the wall. (She also displays a Robert Park Harris photograph, because "this is where I spend so much time, I'm going to put my favorite things in here.") Amy had the shelves made with store-bought brackets and leftover pieces of her countertops. Instead of pricier marble or granite, she chose the quartz surface CaesarStone for her counters. "I swear by it," she says. "You can do anything to it, spill on it, and it's always fine."
Instead of a headboard, Amy and Shawn have head wear over their bed, with Amy's collection of Panama hats and sun hats."I wear a hat all the time because the sun is so strong here in L.A.," she says. Jackson is at the age where he's fascinated with books, and he and Shawn frequently have story time in the master bedroom.
A 9-foot fence contains the two dogs, the big-rig-riding toddler, and, not least, the excitement of entertaining. The fenced-in patio is as good as another large dining room (and makes the guest sleeping in the indoor version less ticked off ). Amy got the table on sale at Restoration Hardware, then stained it black. Instead of buying the matching chairs, she had benches made; they allow for more versatile seating for large groups.
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