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A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers

by Sofia Tuovinen

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge

When Paleny Toros, a data analyst, first started dating her husband Hrayr he lived in Orange County, CA and she in Los Angeles. A year into seeing each other mainly on weekends, Hrayr landed his dream job as an engineer at SpaceX in Los Angeles, finally ending the couple’s weekly back-and-forth routine. Shortly after getting married in 2016, Paleny and Hrayr began looking for a home of their own. While house hunting, Paleny realized that she was drawn to older homes that had not been flipped or extensively modernized. “I felt that the older houses had more character and the ones that had been flipped were never in my aesthetic style,” she explains. “I have a strong sense of personal style and wanted the opportunity to be able to make our house our own.”

When Paleny and Hrayr first visited their 1950s ranch-style home during an open house, they immediately sensed a positive energy and felt that the house had been a happy home for its previous owners. It had character, but also showed great potential for remodeling and making it unique to them. Not long after the first glimpse, the house was theirs.

Before buying new pieces for the couple’s home, Paleny spent a long time researching different styles to figure out what would make the house feel like home for her and Hrayr. While browsing the web for inspiration, Paleny faced the challenge of distinguishing between liking something because it was her aesthetic, or because it simply was something so well done. “At one point, I decided that I wouldn’t constrict myself to a single style,” Paleny says. “I decided I would let each room take on its own personality and trust that the process would result in a cohesive look since at the end of the day, they all had my touch in common. And so I let loose with my creativity and allowed each room to have its own style.” Paleny let her design decisions develop in an organic way, resulting in spaces inspired by everything from Scandinavian “hygge” to rustic elements and a playful twist on boho chic. She also played around with modern trends, adding blossoming wallpaper and traditional Portuguese cement tiles in the bathrooms.

While each space has been carefully considered from a visual standpoint, each decision that Paleny has made has met two criteria: style and functionality. “My husband and I both have engineering backgrounds and so we share ‘being functional’ in common,” Paleny explains. “Also, we have a large group of amazingly supportive family and friends that we love being with, and hosting a large number of people definitely played a factor in styling decisions,” she adds. When asked what she’s most thankful for about her home, Paleny’s answer in all its simplicity is: Hrayr. “I feel very fortunate for having an incredibly supportive husband who believed in my ability to transform our home into what it is today. It has made the process be an incredibly cathartic experience for me, allowing my creative side to be challenged, exercised, and explored.” —Sofia

Photography by Ani Ishkhanian / @shotbyani

Image above: View of the living room and entrance of Paleny and Hrayr’s two-bedroom ranch-style home. The painting in the entryway is one of three paintings by Armenian artist Ani Hovak, which were gifted to the couple by family on their wedding day. 

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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The living room decor started from the lumbar pillow on the sofa. “I decided I needed a blue couch to put the pillow on. Then I added orange accents around the room to tie it all together,” Paleny describes the decorating process. 

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The doorway between the living and dining rooms used to be the width of a standard door. To create a more open feel and flow between the two spaces, Paleny had it widened during the renovation.

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A few months after settling in, Paleny created a little breakfast nook next to the buffet in the open-plan dining room and kitchen. “It’s my favorite spot to have breakfast if my husband leaves for work early in the morning. Otherwise we have breakfast around the island if we’re at home together,” she explains. 

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The kitchen was renovated from floor to ceiling. The clear pendant light and open shelves add the desired airy feel to the space.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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I absolutely love open shelving, but I must say, I’m terrified of our California earthquakes and get so scared for what might happen during one one day,” Paleny reflects. 

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Paleny and Hrayr in their newly renovated kitchen. The couple have felt right at home from the very beginning. “It’s incredible how within such a short time of living in our house, walking through our front door really feels like we are home. I feel safe, happy, and loved and supported,” Paleny says. 

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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This has to be one of my favorite views of the house,” Paleny notes. “We had the ceiling raised, added two skylights, these rustic beams, and the lighting fixture. I still get inspired every morning looking into this room [and] out into the backyard.”

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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A closer look at the dining room wall treatment.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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The kitchen offers views of the dining room and living room, all the way to the sunroom. “I love the flow of the house,” Paleny says. “It’s so open without being open-concept and maintains each room as its own separate space.” For a cleaner look, Paleny removed the fireplace mantel and decorated the front with plants, a giant clock and antique candlesticks.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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The sunroom is a cherished space that holds all family photos.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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The sunroom is also a space that Paleny played with stylistically. It evolved into a “boho-chic” room with tall plants, vintage rattan furniture and rugs that the couple have brought back from their trips to Argentina and Morocco.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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Double French doors lead to the garden. Although hesitant at first, Hrayr hung a macrame chair in the front corner of the sunroom. “We’re both pretty scared to sit on since it doesn’t have any structural support but love the way it looks!”

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The black, white and brass color palette in the guest bathroom creates a crisp and refined look.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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I’ve always wanted a bedroom that has French doors overlooking the backyard. We had these French doors and a little brick patio added to give me just that joy,” Paleny shares. 

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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These vintage-inspired sconces are one of Paleny’s favorite details in the bedroom. Abstract wallpaper from Anthropologie serves as a backdrop for the rustic bed frame.

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Paleny became obsessed with patterned tiles after vacationing in Portugal three years ago. “I knew I had to use them somewhere in the house,” she says. “At first, I considered using them for the kitchen and dining room floor, but due to the cost they were better suited for a smaller space. I’m so happy with the outcome and love them in our bathroom.”

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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Including a tub wasn’t in the couple’s original bathroom plans. “When we were first discussing the details of our renovation plans with the contractor, we asked for standing showers in both bathrooms. He asked if we were planning on having kids, and we were stunned. We said ‘Yes, but what did that have to do with anything?’ He asked how we were planning on bathing our kids without a tub. I found a vendor online who restores old antique pieces and fell in love with this restored, standalone, claw-foot tub.”

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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The exterior of the house charmed Paleny with its colors and “Cinderella cottage architectural structure.” She loved all the design decisions that were made on the outside and didn’t change a thing.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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Paleny and Hrayr converted the garage into a laundry and TV room. Paleny’s favorite element in this space is the DIY coffee table, which was made out of old doors right before hosting a big New Year’s Eve party.

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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“Our favorite thing about our home is that it reflects our travels together. Besides the actual pieces, like the rugs and lighting fixture we’ve brought back from trips, I really have been inspired by all the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit. I do believe a lot of my style has been influenced and shaped from seeing the world.” — Paleny

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We have quite a few books and trinkets that needed a home — we found this beautiful room divider that was perfect for what I had in mind,” Paleny tells us. “We have a lot of elements from our wedding on display on it that brings back a lot of great memories.”

A Los Angeles Home Becomes a Creative Outlet for Two Engineers | Design*Sponge
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In the garage-turned-TV room, Paleny and Hrayr cleaned up the cement floor, added a mix of vintage furniture and created a gallery wall with Hrayr’s grandfather’s paintings.

SOURCE LIST

Entryway
Art – Ani Hovak (artist from Armenia)

Living Room
Navy sofa – West Elm
Pillows – Anthropologie
Bench – Target
Curtains – World Market
Side table – thrift store find
Console table, accent chair, ottoman – Living Spaces
Art – Ani Hovak (artist from Armenia) and Ezekyal Toros (family heirloom)
Vase – Anthropologie
Secretary Desk and pendant – World Market

Kitchen
Cabinets –  Kitchens Baths Etc.
Range Hood – The Range Hood Store
Wooden cabinets, lighting fixtures, counter stools – World Market
Dining table, buffet – Living Spaces
Runner – vintage
Mirror – Anthropologie
Art – “Coffee with Sonig” photography by Sossi Madzounian
Painting by fireplace – Vahe Berberian

Guest bathroom
Wallpaper and hammered brass hardware – Anthropologie
Sconces – Lamps Plus

Main bathroom
Clawfoot tub –  ReadyToRe
Lighting Fixtures – Lamps Plus

Bedroom
Bed – Living Spaces
Wallpaper – Anthropologie
Rug – World Market
Curtains and nightstands – West Elm
Sconces – Lamps Plus
Mirror and Mannequin – thrift store finds

Sunroom
Hanging Chair – Ball & Claw Vintage
Cowhide rug – Argentina
Moroccan rug and pouf – Morocco
Bench – World Market
Rattan chairs – thrift store

Garage
Art – Ezekiel Toros (family heirloom)
Coffee table – DIY using doors from thrift store
Couch – Casa Victoria L.A.
Bookshelf and bench – Living Spaces
Rug – Anthropologie
Antique suitcases – thrift store

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Comments

  • The bathroom floor tiles are gorgeous. I have to admit that when I saw the brick fireplace I had one of those “thank goodness they didn’t paint it” moments! Of course they should do whatever they like to feel happy in their space, but I’m so glad that beautiful old brick was preserved!

  • This is a really gorgeous home. Seems like a serene place to relax after spending the day on the computer :)

  • This entire house is goals ! I had to pin it ! :)
    Love the unique pieces, it’s so chic and rustic.

    Keep up with the great work ! :)

    Sara

  • My favourite is the wall treatment which makes the wall look like concrete. The bathroom with its pattern-tiles is also brilliant. Your source list is very helpful.

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