There’s no single definition of California style: The state’s design sensibilities are as varied and interesting as its geography and climate.
You can get a Cali vibe going in lots of different directions.
For instance, moody colors and a connection with the temperate, coniferous forests of Northern California characterize that region’s look. Think weathered woods, leathers, and boreal forest and coastal hues like indigo, dark green and stone.
Southern California’s a mix of surf-culture casual and movie-studio glamour. Channel the sun and sand with beachy, “retro-modern” hues (deep aqua, coral, sand) and reclaimed materials. Spacy midcentury modern furnishings in hot orange, white, turquoise and fireball red add punch.
“For me, quintessential ‘California Style’ is laidback, hip and happy. Our gorgeous natural light is the star, and we support it with breezy fabrics, natural textures and a relaxed vibe,” says Kim Myles, Los Angeles-based winner of HGTV’s “Design Star.”
Her tips for aspiring Cali-cool decorators: “The key is to keep it casual. California style is the opposite of uptight, so step away from high-maintenance fabrics and fussy finishes. Simplicity is your friend. One large statement — a single wall of color or a beautifully patterned rug — supported by low-key furnishings is more Cali than a room full of fussy clutter.”
For that statement hue, consider Farrow & Ball’s “Yellowcake,” ”St. Giles Blue,” ”Arsenic” and “Charlotte’s Locks,” as well as Benjamin Moore’s “China White” and “Fresno.” (www.farrow-ball.com ; www.benjaminmoore.com )
Modernica stocks a selection of Eames-style fiberglass chairs and George Nelson lighting designs. (www.modernica.net )
Wicker and rattan are great materials for taking advantage of — or just evoking — the indoor/outdoor lifestyle. CB2’s Nest coffee table and Fray pendant fixture bring natural textures home. (www.cb2.com )
One of Myles’ favorite sources is Black Hill Design, a furniture studio in Tucson, Arizona. Their hefty yet sophisticated wood lamps, and coffee tables like the lithe, muscular Catalina have a crafted coolness. Jake Scott, Black Hill’s founder, thinks it’s the simplicity of his pieces that attracts Californians.
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