Lemon, berry, pistachio, and cream—a pale palette and clean-lined modern furniture bring a wood-clad traditional house into the present tense.

A Summery Palette of Sorbet Shades Gives an Old Colonial House a Modern, New Life
Christopher Lee Foto
The pale finish of stripped red oak floors and white walls are a crisp backdrop for summery color.

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Don’t underestimate the power of a well-painted shutter. One peek at the mustard-gold shade against the white clapboard on this 1920s Colonial, perched on a hill near Griffith Park in Los Angeles, and you know it’s not your typical fussy traditional. Step inside the chocolate brown front door, and you’ll find a house that’s calm but also happy; chic but family-friendly; grown-up but filled with cozy upholstery that’s as soft and inviting as ice cream.

Mustardy-gold shutters (Pratt & Lambert Venetian Gold) against a white clapboard exterior (Dunn Edwards Whisper) let you know that this is not a typical, traditional Colonial-style house.

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“It was really luck that it all worked out,” says the homeowner, who figured out the palette and design plan over the course of a roughly nine-month renovation of the four-bedroom, three-level house, which involved upgrading the plumbing and drainage, re-facing the kitchen cabinets, stripping the floors, and updating two top-floor bedrooms and bathrooms. “We moved in with zero furniture and had a lot of misses, at first.”

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To hear the homeowner describe the decorating process, it was a collaborative effort with input from some of L.A.’s coolest design minds. Teresa Grow helped select the exterior palette, picking Farrow & Ball Tanners Brown to complement Dunn Edwards Whisper and those aforementioned Pratt & Lambert Venetian Gold shutters. Grow calls it an “endless summer house” vibe that fit the home’s “timeless, breezy confidence.” Architect Emily Farnham chimed in with a few useful nuggets of wisdom.

“Emily is an incredible architect and designer and she told me to invest in the things that you will come into contact with on a regular basis like hardware and textiles,” the homeowner says. “It’s nice to remember that when debating things that feel critical at the time but you may never see or use once it is installed. Also, feel free to change your mind. Nothing is forever!”

Plum, lavender, yellow—and the pale strawberry ice cream pink of the dining room in the background—is a subtle but super confident color palette.

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Interior designer Erin Falls stepped in to offer guidance around some furniture purchases, and make a few strategic decisions to help the rooms feel cohesive. The journey to find the perfect living room sofa—which ended with a custom, curvilinear three-seater upholstered in lemony velvet—is a great example of how an interiors scheme can take some trial and error.

“We tried a very traditional roll-arm sofa that I couldn’t figure out,” the homeowner says. “It felt very proper, and I couldn’t live up to the pressure of a serious sitting room. Erin has great taste that really pushed me to go with the yellow couch. I’m so glad we did. It just feels like sunshine and keeps the place feeling bright. We tried a lot of different chairs and coffee tables, and a couple rugs, too. After feeling exhausted by the hunt, I just decided to do a simple round coffee table from Resident and pull two chairs from other rooms to see if they worked. I didn’t realize they were such a nice color match because they had been living in two totally different parts of the house. I think we liked the room best when we finally liked everything in the room independently and together.”

Vintage Harvey Probber chrome and wicker cantilever dining chairs surround a Crate & Barrel dining table. A classic Nelson bubble lamp and Bauer Studio arched mirrors echo the curvilinear shapes in the light-filled room.

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The wavy lines and smooth edges theme continues in the attached dining room. Aside from the original paned windows, there are no right angles. The dining table is oblong, the mirrors are arched and the Harvey Probber cantilevered chairs are all curves.

Josef Frank wallpaper bathroom
A Josef Frank pattern wallpaper is a playful touch for a powder room.

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A playful Josef Frank wallpaper is the only busy, patterned moment in the house. The cornflower blue gingham rug is from Heather Taylor Home.

The mix of neutral plaid bedding, a vintage lamp from Lawson Fenning, and a caned headboard from Target keep it chic and simple in a guest bedroom.

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A sparsely furnished first-floor bedroom still feels cozy and warm, thanks to the addition of Heather Taylor Home bedding and a plush Moroccan rug.

built in benches kitchen
A built-in bench with color-blocked pillows and cushions was the family’s solution for kitchen gatherings without the clutter of a large table. It becomes a catch-all for toys and mail.

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“At first we had a farm table in the kitchen, but very quickly it became a catch-all for family clutter,” the homeowner says. “Erin designed the benches, slightly inspired by Donald Judd. They are simple plywood and our contractor built them.”

After spotting a photo of a group of ceramics, they took a color-block approach to the cushions, which were custom made of Rose Uniacke Linen.

“I like having the darkest color cushions where we eat since they hide the most dropped avocado and pancake crumbs.”

A backyard brick patio with a stone fireplace is a great spot for outdoor dining.

Christopher Lee Foto

“I just love the house,” says the homeowner, who recently relocated. “Even when we first moved in and had no furniture, we were happy sitting on the floor. Everything we did just makes us like it more. It’s a real feel-good space.”

The good news is that it’s available as a fully furnished long-term rental. Contact Compass Realty for details.

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