This California Bungalow Will Make You Want to Move Out West

The dark home gets a bohemian makeover.

white kitchen with wood blinds and open shelving
Photo: Kimber Collective

Katie Hammond grew up in Manhattan Beach, California and spent her childhood bouncing back and forth from her and her grandparents' house in nearby Torrance. As an adult, she would pop by on the weekends to check in on her grandmother, who had lived in her home for over sixty years. After she passed away a few years ago, the 1100 square foot house stayed in the family untouched, until a lightbulb went on in Hammond's head.

white living room with sectional and wood accents
Kimber Collective

"Why am I not renovating this house?" she asked herself. "I've always had a passion for interior design and this house really means something to me." So the PR company founder-Hammond started lifestyle firm 9SPR in 2011-hired a contractor and took on the project herself-turning the humble abode into a bohemian sanctuary fit for a homebody and three feisty chihuahuas.

Here's how she renovated:

small dog laying on pillow on white couch
Kimber Collective

The house, built in the 1940s, needed major updates. Hammond basically redid the entire place, including taking down the wall between the kitchen and the dining room and opening up all the walls in the living room. She also added a master suite and laundry room. The process took nine months to complete. And while it was an overhaul, the 33-year-old kept little nods to her grandparents around the home. Much of the art, like the James Peter Cost sailboat painting above the couch, is from them. Hammond says now she gravitates toward vintage ocean paintings.

katie hammond portrait
Kimber Collective

"The best compliment that anyone has given me, is saying the house has good energy," she says. "I feel like this place has my grandmother's blessing."

california house redo exterior shot
Kimber Collective

Dark Details

Hammond made sure to keep the old school mail drop in the entryway. "I don't think they even let you use those anymore, but I wanted it since it was my grandma's," she says. "We even painted it black to make it stand out more."

california home laundry
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More black details are woven throughout the house, from the front door to the light fixtures. Hammond gravitates toward deep-colored homes, but she knew a dark exterior wasn't right for a beachtown, so painting the outside window frames black was her compromise. "I almost did black windows on the inside, but it would have been way too stark against the white walls," she says. "So incorporating dark accents in other places was a way to get that in."

wooden chair with white pillow in living room
Kimber Collective

Au Natural

From the reclaimed wood dining table to the oak kitchen shelves to the jute rugs and bamboo blinds, Hammond has a myriad of natural woods and woven textiles throughout the house.

bedroom dresser sidetable with gray chevron paint
Kimber Collective

She went with these materials because she wanted a simple backdrop. "If I got fabric curtains with a paisley print instead of wood blinds, I know I'd be sick of it in five years," she says. Another savvy design move: Hammond used dressers instead of side tables in the master bedroom. "Dressers mean more shelf space for styling, and bigger drawers to store clothes," she says about the reclaimed wood Chevron Dresser by CFC.

beechhouse of california kitchen island
Kimber Collective

Create a Canvas

At first, Hammond wanted to go with a lot of wallpaper around the house and brass in the kitchen. But like with the natural wood, she ended up choosing materials that offered a more clean and classic backdrop.

wooden shelves in california home kitchen
Kimber Collective

She went with beige walls in the kitchen (and Benjamin Moore Decorator's White throughout the rest of the house) and added open shelving to provide a place to decorate with more of-the-moment pieces that can be switched out during the holidays or on a whim. "Instead of having a tile print backsplash or a navy blue island, this is a way to incorporate on-trend items in the kitchen," says Hammond.

dining table with two vases and coral rug
Kimber Collective

Go Green

Hammond prefers to decorate with greenery rather than cut flowers. "It has that earthy, just-hanging-out-in-Ojai-or-Italy vibe," she says.

decorative candle in boho california home
Kimber Collective

Candles Make a Room

The design buff loves candles and each room has a designated scent. Some favorites include: Le Labo Cade 26 or Santal 26 in the living area; Le Feu Violet in the bathrooms ("I am always giving them as gifts-no one has ever not loved this smell!"); and Norden Big Sur or Diptyque Baies for the bedrooms.

guest bedroom with basket wall decor
Kimber Collective

Surround Yourself with What You Love

When picking out items for her home, Hammond doesn't have a plan, she just buys what she loves and pieces it together. Another reason for starting with natural woods and a simple white wall canvas!

vintage blue dresser in bedroom
Kimber Collective

Hammond has been collecting pieces for her home over the years. The vintage blue dresser in the guest bedroom was used as a TV stand in her old apartment. She loved the Turkish rug underneath the bed so much, even though it is too small, she made it work by layering it over a jute rug.

guest bathroom with black accents white walls
Kimber Collective

Save Online

The custom cabinetry throughout the house was a real splurge for Hammond. She went all out on the bathrooms as well, but was able to find ways to save. "With with internet, you can get things direct to consumer," she says. "I found places that get marble from the same places as tile stores, but they don't have the markup." However, she stresses you have to read reviews and order samples first.

master bath marble pewter finishes and gavin rossdale picture
Kimber Collective

Go for the Unexpected

"Interestingly, the master bathroom is the least like my boho style, but it's one of my favorite spots in the house," she says. The marble and pewter fixtures veer toward the traditional, but Hammond hooked it up with something unexpected.

A large black and white photo of Gavin Rossdale of the band Bush hangs unapologetically above the tub. "Personally, I have no tie to Gavin Rossdale or his music, but I fell in love with this photo at a Pete Black exhibit," she says. "Everyone was like, ‘Why would you put that in your bathroom?' But I think it's cool, unexpected and a nice balance to all the traditional-ness in there."

4-post bed in california house
Kimber Collective

Include a Statement Piece

The home was originally a square, but was made into an L, by adding on a laundry room and master suite. We did a pitched ceiling because I fell in love with this four poster bed, from One Kings Lane before we renovated and knew I wanted it to be a statement piece.

california backyard firepit and table
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As part of the new layout, a big L-shaped concrete patio was added to the property. French doors open up to it from the bedroom and the dining room.

california hammock
Kimber Collective

"It's especially nice because I have three obnoxious Chihuahuas, Tucker, Toby and Goldie, and can just open the door in the morning and let them out."

california house vegetable garden bed
Kimber Collective

Putting Down Roots

"I don't have a green thumb, but I am trying," says Hammond. When she was growing up, her grandfather had a veggie garden in the same spot, so she wanted to recreate it and is learning how to garden.

[GROW: Learn How to Plant a Vegetable Garden]

Construction: Kreag Custom Homes

Interior Design: Katie Hammond

Styling: Jacqui Nazarian and Katie Hammond

Florals: Nadia Saalabi

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