House Tour: A Bright & Warm Scandi-Inspired Home from an EHD Alum
We don’t do a lot of home tours here on EHD (that aren’t our very own projects, of course), but this one is special. Years ago, I had a design assistant, , who worked on two projects with me: Joy’s studio and Joanna Goddard’s apartment. She was a long-time reader who entered an styling contest of mine and won (5 years ago!) and when I saw her winning photo (and stalked her feed) I said, “Hey…do you want to work with me?” I LOVED her style and she did such a great job in every way (I liked her personally a lot, too). If she didn’t live in Orange County with two small kids and have a thriving career already, I would absolutely beg that she work with me again. She recently finished designing her own home and I thought it would be fun to feature because I love it and feel some sort of pride looking at these photos (I had nothing to do with it, it just makes me so happy when former employees do such beautiful work). So…welcome to Samantha’s beautiful home.
The house, built in the 1970s, was a bit of an overhaul for Samantha and her family. “We knew that with two small kids, we really didn’t want to be living in the house while the renovation was happening, but we also couldn’t afford to float two mortgages for very long, so we needed to move pretty quickly,” she says. “I worked on the design while we were in escrow so that basically as soon as we closed, we could get started on the remodel, which took four months. I knew I wanted to take my time with the decorating, though. Usually, when working on a client’s project, there’s pressure to get things wrapped up, because of course! No client wants to live mid-project for very long, understandably. But for my own house, I wanted to let it evolve a bit more and force myself to resist the urge to just get it done.”
I love love love how approachable and inviting her whole house is. It’s curated but not pretentious and has a lovely mix of pieces that are DIY, vintage, from big box stores and custom. It feels warm yet minimal and clean. “The house overlooks parkland and as such, I really wanted to go with a mostly neutral, natural California aesthetic; a bit earthy without veering boho,” says Samantha. I’d say she nailed it, don’t you think?
Okay, now that we have a bit of the backstory, let’s dive in room by room.
While the living room is such a breath of fresh air, that huge embroidery wall hanging is definitely an eye-catcher and SHE MADE THAT HERSELF. WHAT? I need to know the DIY on that one/become an embroidery pro ASAP because I’m crushing on that hardcore. This piece was her first attempt at something this large scale (she’s only done small pieces prior) and man is it beautiful. “When we partially opened up the wall between the kitchen and living room, we were left with the tall wall space above the sofa that I knew I’d need a cool, unique piece to fill,” says Samantha. “I’ve done embroidery for years, but on a much smaller scale. I’m not sure how I got the idea, but one day it dawned on me that rather than shopping for a piece for that wall, it would be cool to have something I made myself and that doing a really blown-up embroidery would be a fun experiment. I plan on experimenting with more pieces like this!” How cool is that? I also just love how her kitchen is so open to her family room because as a mom with two kids, too, I know how crucial that is.
Samantha’s home is a great testament that staying in a “safe” neutral color palette doesn’t equal boring. She kept it bright and light, but with pops of blues, greens and blushes with a lot of wood to warm it up and black to keep it feeling modern. The house is a split level and most of the rooms open up to each other in some way, so she wanted to use the same for soft visual transitions. “As a designer,” Samantha adds, “I like to have the flexibility to change things up with my accessories and I find that having a white backdrop makes it easier to do that.” I totally get that.
It’s California Casual, in a more young and fun way (apparently she also collects wooden hands and feet…I’ve got competition).
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Her kitchen is on the smaller side but she did such a great job of keeping it open and super functional. I LOVE the cabinetry on the left that sits on the counter (something we are doing in the Portland project). She used cabinet doors on to save money and boy do I love that micro-knob. It’s a thing and we’ll be talking about it a lot soon.
It’s a great mix of modern elements, but done in such a warm way (the marble and the wood keep it from being too neutral). Here’s a fun fact on the matte oak wood accents used throughout: Samantha and her family planted a big beautiful oak tree in their front yard and wanted to bring that material into their home (flooring, shelving, etc.). This makes my tree-loving heart SO happy.
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Into her bright happy dining room. I love how she mixed chairs. I don’t know why I stopped doing that, it’s so charming and takes all the formality out of the “dining room” but can be hard to pull off. She did it well. That flooring is so pretty (wide plank, matte and light—it looks to be white oak) and the custom window treatments elevate the whole space (FYI, note how she used one long, straight Roman shade in front of the bay window instead of three individual ones on each window frame…smart—see this post for more tricky window solutions). As for the art: “The big space photo is just an inexpensive print, but having it printed in such a large scale and having it professionally framed makes it feel like a much more important piece.”
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MASTER BEDROOM & BATHROOM
Her simple and happy master bedroom’s color palette was taken from the vintage nude on her dresser (that she bought three years ago). It’s nice to know that I’m not the only one who hoards vintage art knowing that someday I will find its perfect home. Here, it brings in just the right amount of color and depth into the space. “I love her so much,” Samantha says about the piece. “She dictated a few ‘brighter’ pops of color for my room which I’m happy to wake up to.”
“For the master bathroom, the challenge was that the vanity area is basically open to the bedroom,” notes Samantha. “At least half of the vanity is visible from anywhere in the bedroom and I wanted a seamless transition. Our dark wood vintage dresser is basically on the same elevation as the bathroom vanity wall so we kept the cabinetry white to blend with the walls.”
We are working on a story about how to make wall-to-wall mirrors look custom and less “builder-grade” and I’ll be referencing the above photo. Just having that frame around it and, of course, the sconces on it take it to the next level. I’ve wanted to use that wood hardware for a long time but wasn’t sure how it actually played on cabinets, so it’s really fun to see it here. Her house is mid-century so this hardware speaks to that in a less predictable way.
YAY for that shower. I love the vertical stack, honed marble and the black stone, hell, it’s very “modern mountain” to me. I’m curious what her shower tracks are because they are super minimal (and I’ve been researching a ton…more on that later). But we did get her pebble report and she said they are a little hard to clean but loves the look and says they are comfortable under their feet. I’m SOLD.
You can’t see it that well in the photo, but the window is SO SMART. “The shower’s half opaque window is my favorite element here. It used to be ’80s block glass, but there’s a great view from that window, so we just ordered a normal window and had the film applied afterward to part of it, and it looks great in person. So now we have the privacy obviously needed in the shower but can still see out the top of the window.”
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How pretty and sophisticated is this playroom?? While any parent knows—and Samantha confirmed with us—this pristine space is normally covered in toys and little kid messes. My house is the same way. I don’t think there’s any way around it. But right now in these pictures, it’s pretty darn perfect. The muted colors, light wood tones and minimalist design make me feel happy and ready to play with that dollhouse. “It’s just a happy room that’ll transition well from playroom to something else as our kids get older,” she says. “It feels fresh to me without feeling too ‘kid.'”
This is what Samantha had to say about one of her favorite pieces in her house: “The Karina Bania painting over the mantel in the playroom makes me happy every day. It ties together both the pinks that my daughters wanted and blues that I wanted in the room and the pops of black feel sophisticated.”
I love a chalkboard wall in a kids room. Remember the Studio City playroom I did about five years ago? It’s so fun. But what is great about this one is that it’s not only a constant cute art project for her kiddos but camouflages the TV. GENIUS. We did a post on that topic if you need more ideas.
This built-in reading nook is GREAT. It’s stylish but brings in the personality of her family with books and family photos.
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Now onto the very cute, adjacent powder room…
I’m still so happy whenever I see a good seascape and the vertical shiplap gives the walls a quiet pretty texture that I’m very into. Samantha told me that since this bathroom is a totally separate room, she took advantage, veered away from the white and painted the shiplap a . “We used the same blue to paint the floating toy storage cabinet in the playroom—the powder room is in the playroom—so the spaces relate.”
Samantha and I are one in the same with our love of turning dressers into vanities. I used one in my old guest bath and tried to use one in my current powder bath. It ended up not working, sadly. However, when it does work, it’s a great way to get the unique vanity of your dreams without having to start from scratch. Here’s what she said about the customized casegood: “I wasn’t finding any vanities that I really loved, but I fell in love with this mid-century buffet that had the perfect dimensions for the room. And that cabinet and three drawers make for perfect bathroom storage.” It was clearly a find because look at ALL THAT STORAGE. Like I said before, this powder room is right off the playroom and Samantha wanted the room to feel happy and kid-friendly without being a “kids room.” Unfortunately, kids don’t stay little forever (even though I think I’ve convinced mine to. HA), so keeping it playful but sophisticated will give the design longevity and save money in the future.
Lastly, we have the kids’ bathroom…
I love that Samantha took a “risk” with the wall paint in this bathroom, and urge anyone to consider the same thing. It’s a smaller room so it can feel less intense to chose a fun color, wallpaper or tile. What I mean is that the wall color is unexpected and fresh but isn’t so bold that you’re in visual overload. This sweet blush is the perfect blend of fun and neutral.
When designing, Samantha wanted to make the kids’ bathroom more youthful and per her 4-year-old’s request, they decided on this . Now, I’m sure that her girls will forever want to keep this bathroom blush but she chose paint over something more permanent to give flexibility for changing it in the future. Smart lady. For parents designing for young kids, take note. It’s a really good idea to chose materials that can change without costing a fortune. Don’t worry, Birdy knows she isn’t allowed to have anything but pink forest wallpaper forever and ever :).
Once she picked the wall color, Samantha chose cabinetry, lighting and a mirror that felt modern. She then used textiles and art that were soft and delicate. This creates a balanced and sweet bathroom that her young girls love and a style that still works with the rest of the house.
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Here is the wonderful and talented herself. I’m so excited that we got to share her beautiful new home on the blog and if you want her style in your home, we have created Get The Looks throughout for each space (as you’ve probably seen by now). Also, get ready for more Samantha because we will be sharing one of her client projects very soon, so STAY TUNED…
***Design by and home of . Photography by