This Foo Fighter’s Family Home Is Colorful, Modern, and Perfect for the Kids
A smart and stylish remodel adds much-needed square footage for the growing family of Foo Fighters bassist Nate Mendel.
There is only one context in which calling a person “normal” is considered high praise, and that’s when it’s used to describe a rock star. The word is often modified with an adjective like “shockingly,” and, especially in L.A., it’s the rarest of compliments.
Foo Fighters bass player Nate Mendel and his music-publicist wife, Kate Jackson Mendel, both Washington state natives (and long-time Sunset subscribers), are delightfully normal. They’re smart, grounded, family-focused, and relaxed. And their modern house in the San Fernando Valley is all of those things, too. With the help of their long-time interior designer and friend, Tamarra Younis of Union of Art interiors, the home has evolved in step with their family over the past 14 years, changing from a minimal, masculine modern to the easy, inviting family home it is today.
“When I bought the house, I tore it down to a single wall and rebuilt it,” says Nate. Before the renovation was complete, Nate found himself a single dad with a young son, Noah, and a lot of square footage he didn’t need. “I thought about selling it for a while, and then I met Kate.”
Kate was living in Seattle at the time and was in no rush to leave. But she had the good sense to advise Nate to keep the house and enlist Younis to help him furnish it.
“We just happened to have this good friend who just happened to have this crazy talent,” Kate says. “Nate and I both love modern design, but for me, adding warmth is very important. It has to feel rich and textured, and I wanted it to feel like a family home with plenty of vintage details.”
Piece by piece, the home took shape. The backyard was transformed into a functional entertaining space, with a fire pit and lounge on one end and an outdoor kitchen and sitting area at the other end of the pool. When their second son, Cormac, was born, they installed a modern playhouse in an unused corner of the lot near the garage. Then, when they discovered that they were pregnant with twin girls, Oona and Neave, they added more space by looking up, and adding a partial second floor.
“We found out we were doubling the number of kids we had, and that was a big surprise,” says Kate. “So we needed more space, and didn’t want to leave the neighborhood.”
The quiet cul-de-sac, the feeling that you’re removed from the busyness of the city but are just minutes away, and the steep hills built for long walks were too much to give up.
“Maybe it’s because we’re from the Northwest, but we’re big walkers. We’ll walk down the hill, even to run errands, and head back up,” says Kate. “It’s a good cardio neighborhood.”
Younis describes the house as feeling like a little pocket of Palm Springs in L.A. There are bold strokes of color throughout (like a fuchsia accent wall in the living room) vintage accessories, and a handful of Moroccan elements. Younis, her design partner at Union of Art, Katie Fern, and Kate leaned into that idea when they imagined the upstairs addition, which has an airier and more feminine point of view.
“The pinks and yellows, pale blue, the palette feels really fresh,” says Kate. “I had a couple of ideas and images that I pulled for Tamarra, and she just sketched it out and ran with it.”
A wall of caned-front built-in closets and storage in the guest room was brainstormed after a stay in New York’s Greenwich Hotel. The woodwork above the stairwell and in Kate’s office was inspired by the mid-century homes in Palm Springs. From the ’70s-influenced bathroom vanity to the built-in desks for homework, it’s an entirely bespoke addition. By adding roughly 800 square feet, they have a new space for Noah when he comes home from college, a comfortable entertaining space, and a gorgeous home office, from which Kate co-runs Grandstand Media, the music public relations and management company she founded with her three partners.
Though many of the furniture pieces, like the sofa and the yellow chair in the office, were designed by Younis and custom-made, this home isn’t precious in any way. Most of the upholstery fabric is industrial grade and stain-resistant, and there are plenty of reasonably priced accents in the mix.
“I give total credit to Kate and Nate, and the confidence they have to mix a splurge piece with something more affordable,” says Younis. “There are expensive custom pieces, but there are also things from Anthropologie and HomeGoods. Kate is confident in her taste and doesn’t need everything to be high-end or very expensive. They don’t have anything to prove. They love beautiful things but don’t feel they need to show off.”
All of the showing off in the family is handled by Cormac, who is a natural in front of the camera, and his adorable sisters, who all insisted on getting in the pool—despite the chill—and were rewarded with organic chicken nuggets for their patience during the shoot.
Younis, known around the house as Auntie T, was ready with towels when they climbed out of the water, and she and Kate have a delightfully relaxed (some might say normal) attitude about the three kids tearing through the house.
“We made the house beautiful and durable, so it can stand up to the traffic and the wear and tear of having young kids,” Younis says. “We wanted it to feel inviting, purposeful, and comfortable. It’s about family.”
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