By Mary Jo Bowling | Houzz
Interior designer Christina Karras, principal of Forte Design, loves searching salvage yards and junk shops for undiscovered treasures. Her client, a stylish executive at The Walt Disney Company, loves Scandinavian and midcentury design. They combined their passions to remake a compact Mediterranean bungalow in Venice, California.
Houzz at a Glance
- Location: Venice
- Size: 1,150 square feet; 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom
Before the remodel there was no gate and no wall, and there was only a plain front door. Karras used her treasure-hunting skills to find some 1920s wrought iron gate doors at a salvage yard. A stucco fence provides a bit of privacy where there was none.
A California native, Karras believes every house should have an outdoor room, and that it’s especially important in a small house like this one. “An outdoor room can really make a small house feel larger,” she says. “It should be as much like indoors as possible, with places to sit and lie down.”
Karras designed the built-in seating with angled seat backs and heel kicks, or angled bases, to make the area as comfortable as possible. The striped awning makes the space usable in sun or rain and is reminiscent of Spain.
“The problem with this house is that it had a long hallway and tiny rooms coming off of that,” says Karras. “I took away the hallway and enlarged small, arched doors to make the spaces open to each other.” Here she replaced a narrow doorway with a large, rustic beam to open the room to the living room. A wall-hung banquette makes the room feel even more light and open.
“We kept the details very minimalist and organic,” Karras says. “I love color, but it would have made this small space too choppy.” Karras designed the table to suite her client’s desire for a farmhouse piece that was more Danish than rustic.
“Most of the lights are created by Los Angeles artists, and this piece is by Jason Koharik,” says Karras. “When details are minimal, you want to make sure every one is special.”
By eliminating walls Karras made the perfect party layout for a client who loves to entertain. “The rooms now flow into each other,” she says. “You can sit at the dining room table and feel like you are part of the action in the living room and kitchen.”
The front door — a salvage find from Arte de Mexico in Los Angeles — is from Spain, perfect for adding Mediterranean flair. Salvaged tile is inset into the plaster molding around the door. “It’s reminiscent of what would be done in a traditional Mediterranean home,” Karras says. “But this made the style lighter, brighter and more minimal.”
In the living room, a simple sofa from B&B Italia and an Eames lounge chair make a seating area for listening to old-school vinyl records. (The client is an avid collector.) Before the remodel the fireplace had no mantel and no surround, and it was separated from the room with a flimsy brass and glass screen. The designer added a stucco surround, a Moroccan tile hearth and a salvaged wood mantel to make it a focal point. Shop Minimalist Fireplaces Here.
The client is a serious cook and asked for a kitchen with a lot of storage. To add personality to the room, Karras selected bright red floor tile and a colorful Moroccan rug. Add a Pop of Personality With a European Rug.
The other materials in the kitchen are more subdued, including light-colored wood and a stainless steel backsplash.
The master bedroom is done up in tranquil shades of white, setting off the vibrant orange painting not done by Ed Ruscha. “Orange and white —there’s no more electric combination,” says Karras.
To give the bedroom a better connection to the outdoors, Karras turned a set of windows into a pair of French doors.
The designer also engineered the landscaping and rebuilding of the deck. The outdoor fireplace in the backyard was already there, but Karras restored it. “It was falling apart,” she said. “I tracked down missing tiles to match what was there.” Hire a Deck Builder to Make the Perfect Setting for an Outdoor Party.
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