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Interiorssneak peeks

A Gut Rehab with Unforgettable Walls in Los Angeles

by Garrett Fleming

A Gut Rehab with Unforgettable Walls in LA, Design*Sponge

There you are, sitting pretty, when opportunity knocks, and *wham* you’ve got to ask yourself: Am I a risk taker, or is the status quo for me? Pattern designer/artist Samantha Santana and her husband James, a landscape designer, are both clearly the former. Two years ago, they came across this fixer-upper in Los Angeles, CA’s Jefferson Park neighborhood. It was in need of some major work, but they didn’t let fear stop them. Instead they took a risk, sold their floral design business and invested all of the money into making the home a colorful and cozy nest.

The house’s size was one of the biggest challenges the couple faced. At 619 square feet, its compact footprint only holds one small bedroom, one tiny bathroom and a dining room with barely enough space for a table. To get around these constraints, the pair have searched far and wide for stylish, modular, apartment-sized furnishings. They’ve also made sure to snag tall and skinny pieces that provide ample storage without disrupting foot traffic.

Perhaps more challenging than the space’s small size was its condition. Previous owners and squatters had done a number on the home, and there weren’t many salvageable elements. The kitchen, for instance, held only one cabinet worth saving. The rest of the furnishings either had to go or be totally refashioned. And boy, have they been refashioned! In place of these scrapped elements stand fresh cabinetry, new countertops, refinished walls and some of the most captivating wallpaper I’ve ever seen. The patterns, all of which Samantha designed, are bold, floral and fresh.

These graphic walls pair with bohemian touches to create what Samantha and James call “modern psychedelic cowboy” meets “nature boy” style. It’s a look I’m sure you’re going to want to adopt for your own home, so scroll down to take a look at every corner of this funky-fresh space. Enjoy! —Garrett

Photography by Marisa Vitale

Image above: After moving in, Samantha and James each put their own stamp on the living room. First, Samantha re-plastered the walls and installed removable wallpaper from her shop. Then James made the closet door as well as the shelving.

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Samantha and James sold their floral design business and invested their earnings into this LA foreclosure. It took the couple two years to reverse everything squatters and neglectful owners had done to the house.
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Since the kitchen doesn't offer much storage, having a second space for dishes and cups is a must.
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Samantha and James describe their decorating styles as "modern psychedelic cowboy" and "nature boy," respectively. This vignette seems to be the perfect embodiment of both.
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She may be an ex-florist, but Samantha is still very much inspired by blooms and buds. The prettiest plants tend to find their way into her wallpaper designs.

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Samantha was ecstatic when she found out the 100-year-old front door – which James restored – could accommodate a stained glass window. She created the design herself.
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Details like this arched doorway are what originally drew the couple to this 1920s-era home. The sliding door – which leads to a bathroom – and wooden drawers are of James' own making.
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The kitchen was in such rough shape, only one of the cabinets was salvageable. In order to make it work, Samantha and James had to totally gut it. Samantha installed the backsplash using tile she found on Craigslist, put in a marble countertop left over from a home project in Beverly Hills and made the space feel more airy through open shelving (made by James).
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At 619 square feet, the home has been a challenge to configure overall. To get around the dining room's smaller size, Samantha uses tiny stools so the space can be flexed as needed.
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This apartment-sized stove was a Craigslist find, as was the tile.
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This removable wallpaper Samantha designed draws your eye up, making the quaint bedroom feel much larger than it really is.
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James installed a folding closet door (out of frame to the left) so that the pair could fit tables on both sides of their bed.
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Skinny furniture that offers vertical storage and wall hooks help maximize floor space.
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Just like the kitchen, the bathroom was such "a dump" when the pair bought the house it had to be gutted. To give it a lift, Samantha and James installed subway tile, put in a custom sink and painted the walls mint. Each element was part of an effort to honor the 1920s, the decade in which the house was completed.
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During the renovation, James was cleaning the attic and accidentally misstepped. Samantha, hearing the crash, whipped her head around to find James' leg dangling through a hole in the bathroom ceiling!
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"What I love most about my home is... it is completely ours and as weird and colorful as us." – Samantha Santana
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Source List

All custom shelving, door casings, window casing, etc. built by James Lively

Living Room
Wallpaper – Samantha Santana
Sofa – HD Buttercup
Macramé wallhanging – Woven Whale
Sconces on wallpapered wall – Triple Seven
Sconces on white walls – eBay
Coffee tables, baskets – Ross
Bench – built by Samantha Santana & James
Bar cabinet – built by Samantha Santana
Turquoise chair – Atomic Threshold
Faux sheepskin, pink throw pillow – IKEA
Throw pillows on chair & bench – eBay
Throw pillows on sofa – Samantha Santana, Lulu & Georgia
House plants – The Los Angeles Flower Market
Round Mirror – Target
Vases, trinkets, cabinets – Secondhand
Rug, leather pouf – Lulu & Georgia

Bedroom
Wallpaper – Samantha Santana
Bedframe – IKEA
Rug, white mudcloth, throw pillow – eBay
Nightstands – West Elm
Dresser – Craigslist
Wall rack – built by Samantha Santana
Round Mirror, copper shelf, globe lamps –Urban Outfitters
Sconces, plates – The Home Depot
Vases – Secondhand

Hallway
Runner – eBay
Barn door, linens cabinet – built by James
Sconce, plates – The Home Depot

Bathroom
Sink cabinet – built by James
Golden Swan Faucet – Amazon
Subway tiles – The Home Depot
Rug – eBay
Towels – Target
Little Baskets – IKEA
Medicine Cabinet – restored by Samantha Santana & James

Kitchen
Cabinets – designed by Samantha Santana & James, built by Fernando’s Lumber
Floating shelves – built by James
Pendant light – Triple Seven
Black countertop, apartment-sized O’Keefe & Merritt stove, Saltillo floor tiles, Daltiles backsplash tiles – Craigslist
Barn sink – IKEA
Golden utility Faucet – Amazon
Metal shelves – Urban Outfitters
Hanging macramé planter – Samantha Santana

Dinette
Wallpaper – Samantha Santana
Bistro table – CB2
Stools – IKEA
Copper pendant lamp – Lulu & Georgia
Sidetable – CB2
Plant – The Los Angeles Flower Market
Vase and candle sconces – Secondhand
Floral arrangement – Samantha Santana

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