There’s a common refrain in the design world that, at least in the U.S., trends are born on the coasts and work their way inland. Likewise, it seems that styles and technology from overseas often first find footholds in coastal cities before they gain ground in landlocked states.
Whether or not you believe this to be a universal truth, it is clear that California, in particular among the coastal states, is a hotbed of creativity and clients willing to take design risks.
“I love the breadth and diversity of California design,” says Steven Cooper, principal designer/owner, Cooper Pacific Kitchens. “So many creative ideas are born and embraced here – it’s fast-moving and exciting to be a part of design on the West Coast. People take chances – but well-conceived and thought out. It’s about weaving classicism with a daring flare of desire.”
Ariana Lovato, principal designer and owner of Honeycomb Home Designs, adds, “Most of our clients are wanting a coastal contemporary look, but we also have clients wanting a contemporary industrial look with reclaimed and natural elements.”
Designer and President of Living Design Interiors Beppie Mostert also notes the prevalence of contemporary design, with exceptions made for specific architectural styles: “Most clients are looking for contemporary designs unless they live in a specific style home. Last year we had a client who lives in a craftsman home, and we ensured that their new kitchen matched this style.”
Cooper sums it up by emphasizing the general “anything goes” attitude of California design, not to mention the willingness of clients to pay for exactly what they want: “It’s okay to be eclectic and create spaces that are highly personalized and inspired. New ideas are welcomed and encouraged – and it’s truly a place where any style works and fits within the unique architectural landscape we know as California. It’s fun, it’s ever-
changing, and there is the personal wealth to make it all happen.”
Carlsbad, CA-based designer Ginger Rabe asserts that, above all, the stunning natural beauty of California drives her clients’ wants and needs. “The design styles that are being driven in Southern California consist of design that will transcend time, while combining the house as a whole. With bright open spaces and kitchens that are expansive to the outdoors, we have moved all our luxury kitchen designs towards this ongoing trend,” she says. “With more individuals working and living at home, [we have] incorporated the outdoors to spill into the kitchen spaces. This has been a great complement to join the two spaces to feel as one.”
This indoor-outdoor conversation means finding creative ways to help clients feel connected to nature and to themselves as organic beings, says Rabe. “[Our firm] has taken on designing healthy spaces by incorporating movable glass walls, indoor and outdoor kitchens, along with biophilic experiences. The design style is one of natural materials [such as] natural stones, woods and an organic flow within the space.”
Lovato agrees that the outdoors inform a great deal of her firm’s designs: “Warm, full of earthy textures, clean lines, bringing elements of the outdoors inside for a very seamless look and feel! We are all about outdoor living and finishes that represent the outdoors (i.e., blue fusion granite, white stacked limestone, etc.) you can expect to see repeated indoors.”
Mostert describes the prevailing style as “California Casual,” which she says “draws from the neutral colors, a combination of soft tones and the inclusion of different elements, including leather, stone and wood.” She also notes the importance of paying homage to the natural world around the home: “Southern California has great weather all year round, and the demand for indoor/outdoor living has increased, and this flow relies on the materials to be practical for both indoor and outdoor use.”
Cooper also sees the surroundings of the home driving selections. “Material selections will vary when a home is on the beach compared to one in the mountains. We must be versatile – and a bit chameleon-like – to integrate up-to-date solutions but remain grounded in solid themes.” ▪