Interiorssneak peeks

Sneak Peek: Claire Cottrell

by Shannon Grant

After just six short months in her home, Claire Cottrell has achieved the look she strives for, “minimal a la modern Japanese,” specifically inspired by the Japanese architecture firms SANAA and Atelier Bow-Wow. While she dreams of having an all white space, she’s incorporated soft pastel colors punctuated by rich natural hues via handmade textiles, art and found objects that add texture to the space and create something completely her own. She is also clearly inspired by nature, which suits her, considering her home is nestled in the trees of Mount Washington, California. Claire is a filmmaker, design editor and founder of BOOK STAND, an independent art book shop headquartered in Los Angeles. Thank you, Claire! — Shannon

Image above: This is the biggest impulse buy I’ve ever made. The second I saw it, I said, “I have to have that.” At the time, I lived in an impossibly small studio with a Murphy bed. I didn’t have room for it until just this year, so the beautiful thing has been sitting in storage for almost ten years. I love it, and I’m so happy to see it every day.

Image above: The little white enamel Japanese teapot that I can’t live without on a vintage Wedgewood stove. Also, my white clay toiro donabe pot and a new tagine.

See more of Claire’s California home after the jump . . .

Image above: Can you tell I love white?! A vintage Saarinen-esque table with IKEA stools and an Eames side chair. A eucalyptus branch I nailed to the wall. Flowering broccoli in a white clay vase. And then a paper lantern I found in my garage. The man that lived in the house before me worked in the camera department, and he’d left it in the rafters. I rescued it and fitted it with a low-wattage bulb.

Image above: A fresh bay wreath from Cookbook. A black Heath bowl with a few blood oranges.

Image above: The one thing in my house that I didn’t paint white: the soft silvery green kitchen cabinets. The tiles have tiny little leaves printed on them.

Image above: My tumbleweed! It’s left over from a shoot. Best home accessory ever. A nod to Ray Eames.

Image above: A Matt Merkel-Hess big dot bowl from IKO IKO.

Image above: In my dream world, my house would be all white. Having a little black dog makes it pretty challenging. Vintage kantha blankets are my solution. I have a stack of them in the linen cupboard to use whenever needed (e.g., on a rainy day: everywhere). This one is my favorite. The soft pinks and pastels are hard to find. The little stool is from Platform, this great little shop across the street from my local tea spot. The rug is a vintage find from the Rose Bowl, as is the table ($20!).

Image above: I love music, vinyl, little tables, etc. This is essentially my entertainment system. Records, radio and my iPod. There’s a Mike Mills print from his Humans collection peeking out to the side. It’s all black but has these teeny tiny multi-colored polka dots sprinkled at random in the black. In other words, humans.

Image above: I work from home, so my workspace is incredibly important to me. Everything about this makes me happy: the handmade wooden desk by Taku Shinomoto that I picked up in Venice at a Tortoise (Mr. Shinomoto’s the owner) “yard sale” for $20. The WAKA WAKA stools are by another local Japanese designer, Shin Okuda. The print is one of my favorite images: a nude torso covered with lilies by a Chinese photographer. And a hand-painted bookmark made by Austin-based artist Amelia Giller for my book shop.

Image above: All the essentials — washi tape, pens, paper, a stack of flower zines I was prepping for the L.A. Art Book Fair, the D.A.P. catalog and wildflowers I picked on a walk with my dog.

Image above: Little things sent to me by artists whose books I carry. Hand-painted stars by my friend Stella, and a little twig collage I made on a lazy Sunday.

Image above: White dipped wood table picked up on sale at West Elm. Vintage black Underwriters’ Laboratories portable lamp with peach cord from Duson in Silver Lake. A plant and a stack of current before-bed reads.

Image above: My dresser, a Debbie Carlos print and my monstera.

Image above: A John Robshaw shower curtain and a loofah I picked up at the farmer’s market. The rag rug is from ABC Carpet & Home’s great online shop.

Image above: A linoleum block print by Cortney Cassidy, my handmade broom and the stained glass door to my backyard. It makes a rainbow on my walls every day between 4 and 5 pm.

Image above: It came with the house. Everyone in Southern California should have one. I save water and electricity.

Image above: Mini school chairs picked up from various flea markets. A little collection of cacti: some bought, some found and some inherited.

Image above: The incredible pine tree in my front yard! I’d love to build a tree house.

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  • Lovely home, but one reason I have stopped checking D*S is that these home tours look like they all belong in the same house. Slightly shabby, lots of white with bits of wood and color.

    Please, something different!

    • hp

      I’m sorry you feel that way. I think the white trend is waning a bit (that was most of what we were seeing in people’s home submissions, not something we purposely were focusing on) and we’re starting to see more colorful homes. I actually think we’ve shown a lot of colorful or less “white and something else” homes lately, but I know they’re not all going to be something everyone loves.


  • Echo HP’s comment, although I understand there are limitations based on what people are submitting. It would be nice to see more examples of a more modern, less eclectic, sensibility, to the extent they’re available.

  • anyone have thoughts about plants in the bedroom? i’ve heard it’s not a good idea, but i love the look . . . also a comment on hp’s post: i agree that a lot of the house tours are looking similar, but more for the over-styling trend than just the white on white thing. the one earlier today was refreshing, bright, and full of for-real personality.

  • I think what I love most about the sneak peeks is being “invited” into someone’s lovely and well-thought-out home, “hearing” all the little and big stories of their beloved objects/processes/daily lives. It is constant inspiration to be oneself. This one is another lovely personal slice of life! I <3 the desk and stools.

  • YEaH!
    so happy you featured Claire’s home.
    she is a GEM!
    and her home is beautiful!
    this lady can do no wrong.

    it looks wonderful Claire!

    xo Lauren

  • I love this interior! I really love the fact that she’s gone for so much white but it still looks relaxed and comfortable.

  • so pretty.. simple and clean. I really like it.
    I do NOT understand the tumble weed???? why?? Maybe it’s just where I live..but it’s an ugly dirty weed…there are thousands and thousands of them everywhere…they get under your car..pile up in corners.. a big one dented my car! Seems odd. ?? I normally like ugly pretty…or taking something old/ugly/broken and making it beautiful.. I guess I am just not a tumble weed girl.

    • Tera

      It might be something that only those without tumble weeds can understand ;) I remember the first time I saw a tumbleweed in Texas. I made the driver pull over so I could take one home.


  • Claire’s home is so pretty, serene, unique and unpretentious. This is definitely one of my favorite house tours.

  • That does look really nice. My sister has been wondering about heraldry symbols and I think it’s a good idea but she cant decide. What kind of colors or themes would work with these symbols?

  • Tera, I so laughed at the tumble weed comment. Not in a mean way!! :) I heard about the problems they can bring and I believe you but I’m from Canada, lived in Europe and right now living in Québec and I never, EVER saw a tumbleweed in my life!! Except for the ones in movies. I swear that the day I do see one, I will (like Grace mentioned above) stop traffic if I have to, grab it and take it home with me with a big smile plastered on my face. It’s such a unique shape! So airy, full of texture… It’s like a sculpture! I’m SO envious. Feel free to send me one! I’ll send you my address and pay for the shipping!! :D Wait, can one actually do that? I’m not even kidding haha! I guess, it’s exotic to some (and to me). A symbol for a place we never saw and that I long to visit (even if it’s a cliché). It was a pleasure to see it in the opening scene of The big Lebowski and now the soothing sound of the Tumbling Tumble Weeds song plays in my head.

    Oh and LOVE the space!!! I wish I was this good at keeping things minimal. I’m more of busy, in your face with patterns kind of girl but this space looks like an amazing retreat! So calm, soothing, beautiful and airy. Like a tumbleweed!! :)

  • Nice article, I was so impressed with your bed image. It is so old and unique. I think it will be make an ideas for us to reuse our old bed that we never use anymore.

  • @B –
    Plants in the bedroom are fine from a health perspective. They consume a little bit of oxygen at night (when respiring), but far less than your spouse or cat.

  • I love the feel of this house, it seems very calm and serene to me. I’m fascinated by the tumble weed, I think it looks great but we don’r get much in the Cotswolds, UK!!

  • I think that teapot is vintage Dansk (perhaps made in Japan?); there is a website featuring tumbleweed for sale (prickly devils but beautiful – you don’t want to grab one! – it looks just perfect on Claire’s fridge).

  • Wonderfully curated home. I adore how you’ve used white, not as a single color, but rather like a Whistler painting — white on white. Complainers in regard to white might learn to break their whites down; it’s hardly just one color. You’ve played with it with great subtlety while the verdant bursts of color in the plants and yellow blossoming broccoli, as well as the use of textiles (and tonal contrast of the tumbleweed “sculpture”) add delight and whimsy.

  • LOVE the tumbleweed – it def is like a sculpture! All in all a lovely home and agree with the comment above – it’s not just a single white just lots of lovely shades of ‘white’. I did laugh at the ‘plants in bedroom’ comment – visions of venus flytrap man-eating plants taking over while you asleep… ;)

  • Great house! I lived on Mt Washington for 12 wonderful years and miss it so! Love will make you do crazy things, like move out of the city and live in a 1970 golf course tract home…

  • Ahh, that is a really soothing home. I would love a country retreat in this style. It’s one of my life ambitions to live in the countryside in a little cottage like that.. oh, and great handwriting!! :)

  • Love this sneak peak; it feels very calm. I agree with Kerry & Rose regarding the use of white and would like to add that it shouldn’t be labeled a ‘trend’ – it’s simply what works for this home. My house gets loads of natural light and has expansive views; we used four different shades of ‘white’ (depending upon the room & exposure) to allow those views to shine. Depending upon the time of day, various rooms look different depending upon the changing light and shadows. ‘White’ is often the best backdrop for natural wood, artwork and photographs (think of art galleries), and it’s visually quiet – perfect if you like to rest your eyes after a long day. When used correctly, white is anything but cold and sterile (as it’s often described) – this sneak peak is proof. Well done.

  • Haha, my boyfriend made so much fun of me for getting excited the first time I saw a tumbleweed (especially since it was actually tumbling)!

    I feel like this home is the embodiment of zen… and that colorful door adds a nice splash of whimsy to the calm!

  • In regards to plants in the bedroom…

     There are a few houseplants that release oxygen at night (as opposed to CO2), making then perfect for bedrooms. Here is a list of some of those plants:

    Snake plant (aka Sanseveria)
    Gerbera daisy
    Christmas cactus

    And don’t forget that indoor plants (some more than others) cleanse the air of indoor pollutants, formaldehyde, benzene, xylene, can increase concentration and reduce anxiety and and…the list goes on. 

    Can you tell that I love houseplants??

  • OK ok, craaazy question: How do you dust a tumbleweed???? Being a Texas gal, I know they must get dusty. Do you take it for a “tumble” outside, do the Harlem shake whilst wearing gloves, or let the dust enhance the fluid shape?

    The house is so peaceful and the light divine. Thanks so much for sharing your house.

  • I agree with Grace – Tumbleweeds are the ultimate ‘western’ accessory… I am an Aussie, have lived all over the world but have never seen a tumbleweed and am sure I would collect the first one I saw so I could show it off at home. It’s all about where you grow up…

  • I LOVE this house tour – my favorite ever! But… about half the images don’t load! Can someone fix those broken links?