Touchable textures, faded colors and a mix of the old and the new give this thoughtfully done Palos Verdes home by Kate Lester Interiors a beautifully broken-in look and feel.
Juxtaposition is the name of the game in the living room, which features vintage and new accessories, modern silhouettes and classic curves on the stone fireplace and custom furnishings throughout.
When Kate Lester’s clients—a retired couple who split their time between Southern California and the Hawaiian Islands— approached her to redesign their hillside home in Palos Verdes, she looked to the architecture and the couple’s needs for direction. “They loved the Cape Cod style of the home but were very upfront that it wasn’t exactly their own personal style,” she says. “They enlisted an ‘expert designer,’ me, because they were hoping to stay true to the architecture and gorgeous bones of the home, but also infuse some of their own personal touches in a tasteful way.” The 10-year-old home didn’t need a major overhaul, merely a face-lift, as Lester would call it. “It needed new paint, tile, wall coverings, light fixtures... mainly [updating] cosmetic items that made the home feel a bit dated when it was purchased.”
Contrasting green trim and Phillip Jeffries wallpaper give the dining room dimension and warmth.
There wasn’t one thing in particular that set the tone. Instead, the property as a whole inspired the design direction. “It was the home itself,” Lester explains. “The shape, color, style... the placement on the hill, the breathtaking views. The whole thing was this moment that I really wanted to play homage to.” The homeowners were after a classic, elevated and curated house that infused the old and the new seamlessly. “They didn’t want a designer who would come in and tell them to throw all of their treasured items away,” she says. “Good thing they met me. I would never do that.”
A wall of windows showcases stunning Palos Verdes views and the corresponding color palette in the formal living room.
The Plan After nailing down the general design direction— elevated, comfortable, livable and authentic to the Cape Cod architecture while avoiding a nautical theme party look—Lester got to work by first eliminating the items that needed to go. “We immediately knew all of the items dating the home had to go, and I was very open and honest about that with the homeowners upfront,” she says. “You can furnish a space, but if the lighting paint, wallcoverings and other structural items are still not up to par, it’s like putting lipstick on a pig.” Once that was resolved, Lester and her team dove into the design. “We started with a Cape Cod concept and then said, ‘How can we make this their own? How can we make sure this looks and feels curated and collected like this home has been theirs forever and evolved and grown with them over the years?’ I wanted each room to be layered with depth and texture and filled with accents that told a story.”
A sculptural overhead light from Nickey Kehoe is a focal point in the family’s lounge space.
Since it is the first room seen when entering the home, the living room had to pack a punch. “It had to have some ‘wow factor’ to compliment the curved bank of windows and breathtaking views,” Lester explains. “I didn’t want the color palette to fight the landscape here. Instead, I wanted it all to complement each other, so the sofas have a curvature that compliments the hillside, and the entire color scheme is reflective of a southern California hillside.”
Windows coverings in fabric by L.A.-based Brook Perdigon Textiles and Arteriors sconces add dimension and texture to the inviting kitchen.
Lester mixed unexpected textures and finishes like wicker and brass in the dining room. “Keeping the eye moving and things a little bit off is good,” she explains. And although no structural changes were needed in the kitchen, Lester’s updates—new paint, countertops, hardware and lighting—made a significant impact. “My goal was to make this area really shine like I think the architect always intended,” she says. “It’s such an incredible space with the high ceiling and the windows, so we created a custom chandelier and tables and a new banquette cushion. Practical and chic.”
The primary bedroom houses a traditional canopy bed from The Beautiful Bed Company, custom case goods and upholstered furnishings atop an Amara rug.
While the entire home has a serene and peaceful vibe, the primary bedroom exudes this feeling in spades. “This space was all about views and relaxation,” says Lester. “We went with a traditional dark canopy bed with a pop of contrast to make things interesting and draw your eye up. The room was also so spacious that it allowed for a gorgeous seating area at the foot of the bed, where we incorporated vintage-inspired pieces.”
A showstopping tub from BainUltra is the jewel of the primary bathroom.
Similarly, the primary bathroom exudes a traditional vibe but with a twist. “Classic design meets a bit of muted color to keep things fun here,” Lester says. “I wanted to make sure that we didn’t take ourselves too seriously, so it was all about bringing in color and warmth with the accents, even though the bones are classic.”
The built-in bookcase in the primary bedroom is painted a calming green hue from Farrow & Ball and styled with a variety of vintage artwork and found objects.
“Installing this home and revealing it to our clients was an absolute highlight,” says Lester of the project, which took about a year to complete. “They are such kind and lovely people, and as we walked through each room, watching them take in the details was very special. The whole home is incredible, and they are a wonderful family who I know will share many happy moments there. That’s what it’s all about.”
The playful wallpapered powder room off the kitchen features a colorful vanity paired with a sconce from Worley’s Lighting and a mirror by Tim McFarland Design.
Kate Lester, Kate Lester Interiors
Living room and primary bedroom rugs
Primary bedroom nightstand lights, kitchen sconces
Primary bathroom tub
BROOKE PERDIGON TEXTILES
Kitchen and family room window covering fabric
Primary bathroom sink and tub fillers
FARROW & BALL
THE BEAUTIFUL BED COMPANY
Primary bedroom bed
TIM MCFARLAND DESIGN
Kitchen powder room mirror
Kitchen powder room sconces
Dining room chandelier