Interiorssneak peeks

In Pasadena, an Art Deco Dream with a Vibrant Checkered Ceiling

by Kelli Kehler

Oftentimes the most magical, electric spaces are born of an unlimited dream bank and an abandonment of rules — combined with a heavy dose of unbridled creativity. Such is the case for the gloriously revamped studio space of Margaret and Corey Bienert, a husband and wife filmmaking duo who moved to the Los Angeles area from Chicago, IL two years ago.

To craft the perfect space for Margaret and Corey to work, collaborate and recharge, the couple entrusted the design to Margaret’s sister, producer/photographer/podcaster Caroline Lee, and author/stylist/blogger Anne Sage. Caroline and Anne’s task was to completely transform the lackluster Pasadena, CA studio Margaret and Corey rented — the supreme hurdle of which involved working with some less-than-lovely, water-stained ceiling tiles. “I was literally lying awake one night worrying about how ugly that ceiling was when the idea came to me to paint them in a standout pattern,” Anne recalls. “This way, we’re not just hiding an eyesore, but we’re using every square inch of the space as an integral part of the design!” To pull off this vision, Anne created a paint-by-numbers map of the ceiling using 13 different shades of Portola Paints. But when it came to executing the paint job (each tile was covered in three coats!), Margaret trusted only herself, Caroline shares: “That glorious checkered ceiling took 60 HOURS to paint … and Margaret did it alone! She’s incredibly attentive to detail and didn’t trust anyone else to ‘help’ up to her standards,” she teases.

Conventional design “rules” might suggest the rest of the space be more neutral with such a punchy ceiling, but Caroline and Anne had other plans. Instead the two expertly infused peach, deep green, dusky blue and mauve tones throughout the space, using the ceiling as a beacon of palette inspiration. Various textures, like sumptuous pink velvets, both enliven and deepen the studio; quirky and eclectic accessories carry the eye around the space in visual harmony. This ethos means every corner, nook and cranny is a pop of excitement, and this more-is-more layering of art deco vibes works to a tee.

“We could easily have elected to wallpaper all four walls,” Anne begins, “but Caroline and I are really into creative uses of fabric lately and we couldn’t resist installing a dramatic floor-to-ceiling curtain along the back wall. We wanted a really dynamic yet subtle effect, so we chose a Crypton fabric in the same peach color as the wallpaper to create a streamlined sense of movement.”

With the project all said and done, Margaret says the studio — called A Pretty Cool Space — is beyond her wildest dreams. “It’s the perfect place to create, to brainstorm, to recharge,” she shares. “It’s inspiring and bright and complex in all the best ways!” —Kelli

Photography by Echo and Earl / @echoandearl

Image above: Anne and Caroline are a force to be reckoned with — their own studio space, Light Lab, is a testament to their combined skills. To translate their effervescent vibe onto Margaret and Corey’s rental, they used similar design tactics, like creating a chic area that encourages gathering. “We went with low, broad seating to foster a lounge-y vibe,” Anne says. “The studio is a workspace, sure, but who says it can’t feel relaxed and inviting, too?”

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“The Art Deco inspiration for the space is palpable in the stepped-form storage chest from West Elm,” Anne and Caroline share. “A teal strié rug by Jaipur Living relates this section of the studio to the similarly-hued velvet sofa that anchors the opposite corner.”


The studio’s pièce de résistance — the paint-by-number ceiling pattern that was conceptualized by Anne and painstakingly executed by Margaret.


Metal Thonet chairs from the LA-based vintage emporium Amsterdam Modern pair with a white oak table by Article to create a workspace that’s both beautiful and functional. “When I spotted those chairs,” Anne shares, “I knew we absolutely had to have them for this project. With that shape and that color, it’s like they’ve been waiting their whole life to be in this room!”


Artworks from Society6 create a fun gallery wall that also incorporates the space’s overall theme of repeated circles and curves.


Anne and Caroline opted for an abstract wallpaper by Drop It MODERN, a feature that creates movement in the space with its black strokes while exuding a casual sophistication with its slight peach tone.


“Studio mascot Nessie holds court on a rose velvet armchair by Article,” Anne and Caroline tell us, a furniture selection made for its sophisticated deep pink hue and low shape.


Target’s line Project 62 provided Caroline and Anne with plenty of ceramic and brass options for which they styled these gorgeous shelving units.


Shelving units in a blond wood from Urban Outfitters continue the space’s theme of curved lines while creating a cohesive design moment that anchors the studio.


“Though the smoked glass and walnut accent table is a sober contrast to the vibrant velvet of the chairs, a similar slim leg shape unites all three pieces for a cohesive look,” Anne and Caroline note.


Danae Horst of Folia Collective first assessed the studio’s balance of natural light, as well as the overall design aesthetic chosen for the space, before suggesting a mix of plant varieties to incorporate into the design.


A trio of elongated West Elm mirrors opens up the small footprint of the studio while echoing the three shelving units across the room. “Margaret has such a bold personality,” Anne says. “We wanted the space to reflect that about her, so we used multiples of many elements to make an impactful statement.”


A pair of soft pink ottomans from Article does double duty as a coffee table or as extra seating for a crowd. “They reminded me of very chic lily pads when we chose them,” Anne shares. “They’re just right for hanging out on a lazy afternoon!”


Husband and wife videographer team Corey and Margaret Bienert with their dog, Nessie.


The artful layering of textures in the studio is an homage to Art Deco spirit, and is found in both tone-on-tone iterations (like the peach Crypton fabric set against the peach wallpaper) and striking contrasts (like the pops of black and the deep green tones sprinkled throughout).


A brass and steel Mitzi table lamp sits atop a marble and glass West Elm console — a station meant to also serve as an area for mixing cocktails.


“We kept the styling of the shelves relatively sparse,” Anne notes. “Those display units really speak for themselves, so we didn’t want to clutter them too much! Plus, now Margaret can easily swap pieces out as she collects new faves, without having to change the whole setup.”


“At night, a custom neon fixture by Brite Lite Tribe transforms the studio into a glowing landscape of shape and shadow,” Caroline and Anne share.


A hypnotic purple glow takes over the space at night, giving it a whole new life and ambiance. Margaret has plans to offer the studio as a rental for intimate events and gatherings.


Anne (far left) and Caroline (far right) admit that Margaret was a total dream client of theirs: she was down for every over-the-top idea the two threw her way. “How often does total trust like that come along?” they exclaim.


Paint: Portola Paints on the ceiling in colors: El Mirage, Ancient Scroll, Angel’s Landing, Limelight, Drizzle, One Drop, Mission Rose, Pink Pepper, Charlotte, Canggu, Lighthouse, Troubadour, Ghost Tree

Wallpaper: Drop It Modern Shape Shifter Mural in Creme

Drapes: custom made from fabric by Crypton Home

Plants: Danae of Folia Collective

Shelves: Kaya Book Shelf from Urban Outfitters

Sofa: Kits Pacific Blue Sofa from Article

Pink Chairs: Embrace Rose Pink Chairs from Article

Ottomans: Orbis Blush Pink Ottomans from Article

Side table: Vitri Walnut Side Table from Article

Mirrors: Sparkler Wall Mirror from West Elm

Console: Messina Console from West Elm

Dresser: Greta 6-Drawer Dresser from West Elm

Dining table: Seno Oak Dining Table for 6 from Article

Dining Chairs: Thonet stacking chairs from Amsterdam Modern

Rugs: Basis from Jaipur Living

Lighting: floor lamp Leah, table lamp Petra, console lamp Zena, ceiling fixtures Estee all by Mitzi

Framed Art: all from Society6: blush and blue leaves, weekend by wanker & wanker, close by quite, boobs, how far is a light year, um duh by almost makes perfect, equinox by tracie andrews, shape study 2 by mpgmb, shape study 1 by mpgmb, shape study 10 by mpgmb, shape study 11 by mpgmb, prada marfa sign by peggie prints

Neon Sign: custom from Brite Lite Tribe

Styling Elements: all from Target: terrazzo coasters, ceramic candle, brass bookend, terrazzo tray, marble clock, terrazzo + wood sculpture

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  • It’s an amazing one-of-a-kind creation of color and texture! And that ceiling! 😍 So beautiful – and all the more impressive that Margaret did the work herself! Well done, team!

  • omg I have these ceilings in my home, they are the worst! What are these?! I have no idea what lies underneath and what holy drama would ensue if I tried to remove them – this is now an option (but I’d also like to try heavy textured wallpaper ;)

    What a great looking shop!

  • Absolutely fabulous! I love the ceiling, the wallpaper, furniture and the wall art!!!! …and the little details (golden hand…)! The people in it look gorgeous too! :-)

  • I LOVE this space but— gosh does that wallpaper look like it is about to just fall right off the wall. Get a refund on that!