Perhaps the greatest witness to a person’s evolution is their home. It sees us through good times and bad as we navigate life, our careers, and our relationships. For many, home is nothing if not sentimental.
For lifestyle blogger, author, and stylist Anne Sage and her fiancee Ivan Juarez-Mrazek, this statement could not ring truer. Built in 1924, the Craftsman-style bungalow they call home has not only seen a lot of history due to its age, but it has witnessed the evolution of Anne and Ivan’s relationship as well. For a time, this 600-square-foot bungalow in Los Angeles, CA was Ivan’s bachelor pad. Located in the bustling neighborhood of Highland Park, Ivan chose this home for its walkability and welcoming curb appeal, explaining that it was, “interesting without being overly trendy.” The home also became a crash-pad for various friends and work colleagues when they were in town for projects — among them, was Anne.
During the sporadic work-related sleepovers, Ivan and Anne became good friends, and in time, they treaded the waters from being work acquaintances, to friends, to a couple. Just two years ago, they took the next step: Anne moved in and they got engaged.
Their story continues to be a fairytale marked with some hiccups and absurdities, the first of which became obvious soon after Anne unpacked. While the home was the perfect unassuming size for Ivan and Rambo’s bachelor needs, it quickly became clear that with the addition of another human and three pets (Anne’s chiweenie Sadie, and two long haired domestic cats, Sophie and James Bond), the home was beyond maximum capacity. “The limited size of the house — combined with our mutual dislike of clutter — definitely impacted our decorating goals,” Anne says. “Visually we wanted the effect to be as airy and bright as possible to create the illusion of more space.” This meant opting for many multipurpose pieces with a streamlined aesthetic that also provided storage.
With a pretty clear design vision, Anne was conscious to not swoop in and use a heavy hand when it came to transforming the space from bachelor pad to family home. She worked her magic carefully to create a space that suited them both, pulling out all the stops with some decorating tricks to make the house feel bigger — such as defining spaces with furniture.
In its current state, the home decor has been two years in the making. Pieces have come and gone as they’ve experimented with different layouts, palettes, and storage strategies — the most triumphant of these makeovers having occurred in their kitchen. As Anne explains, “In its ‘before’ state, it was a monstrosity of floor-to-ceiling honey pine cabinets. Cooking in there was like being trapped in the gift shop of a 1980s country music theme park.” Because they rent their space, the couple didn’t want to pour a ton of resources into a renovation. But knowing they want to stay in this house for the next while, the kitchen deserved an upgrade in order to feel livable for them. They removed all of the upper cabinets and painted the remaining cupboards in Sherwin Williams Classic French Grey, “a shade that feels at once timeless yet clean and modern, too.” They also swapped out the lighting, the hardware, and added two open shelves for displaying their dish wares.
While living quarters have gotten a little tight, Anne and Ivan continue to call this space home because they love the laid-back feel of the neighborhood, the affordable rent they have for the area, and the big backyard for the dogs to enjoy. As Anne puts it best, “We’re thankful that this home is such a huge part of our story! It brought us together, and it’s watched our relationship evolve from friendship to budding romance to our recent engagement.” Thinking back on how it’s evolved over the last few years, Anne explains that it’s like watching a filmstrip of their time together: learning each other’s likes and dislikes, exploring what works and what doesn’t, and ultimately finding a formula that is the perfect reflection of them both. –Sabrina