The laidback modern California decor of the hotels in my latest Stylish Stays post capture exactly the kind of effortless carefree styling I’m trying to nail in my own home just now, a relaxed take on minimalism that balances form and function with warmth, comfort and livability.
Modern California decor is all about light, open and airy spaces, taking cues from the tones found in nature and bringing the outside in as much as possible. This is hugely important in my home just now, as we have no access to outdoor space – not even a balcony! – so adopting as many biophilic design techniques as possible helps maintain a connection to the outside world whilst we’re not able to experience it firsthand (due to lockdown). I think I’m drawn to the modern California aesthetic in part because my past two homes have had an abundance of creamy white walls (that I’m not allowed to paint), warm wooden (laminate) flooring in the living areas, and inoffensive latte-hued carpeting in the bedrooms, as is so often the case in newly built or refurbished apartment blocks in the UK. This blank canvas upon which to build a decor scheme can of course be backdrop to any number of interior styles but for me, California always comes a-calling!
Natural materials are the perfect starting point for the casual California aesthetic, incorporating raw wood tones, woven rattan and sisal, textured linens, cosy woollen knits and shaggy sheepskins. But while modern desert decor layers natural textures like these in abundance, modern California style is much more considered in its approach, focusing on a few key investment pieces and emphasising the flow of a space. Paring back as much as possible, where desert style might call for the layering up tactile patterned cushions in an array of earthy hues atop a bed, modern California decor would opt instead for a double-length monochrome patterned bolster across the bed as a solo style statement. Similarly on the floor, while desert decor might overlay a few tactile sisal rugs, modern California style would opt for one single statement rug, often with a bold graphic design in a single contrasting colour.
Deep blue will alway be my Cali-inspired colour pop of choice, reminiscent of the vast ocean and cloudless skies as far as the eye can see, holding for me the promise of freedom, escape and adventure. But blue is also imprinted in our psyches as a restful colour. In choosing Classic Blue (19-4052) as their Colour of the Year 2020, Pantone considered the shade to bring a sense of peace and tranquility to the human spirit offering refuge, whilst also encouraging reflection and fostering resilience. I can’t imagine they ever forsaw just how poignant a choice it would be. Deep blue is a fantastic shade to consider for statement furniture in the home – for example, I’ve always opted for a deep blue sofa – or even as a shade for kitchen cabinetry à la Hotel Covell’s Chapter 8, but its also a fantastic shade to consider for both display and occasional accessories, from textiles such as cushions or bedlinen, to ornamental vases and artwork, to tableware and crockery. I have pieces from the Iittala Teema tableware range in dotted blue which always make my dining table feel nicely chic and styled, but I’m also lusting after Habitat’s Olmo dinner set*, and a selection of the cobalt blue creamware pieces from Richard Brendon’s new Dip collection.
Midcentury silhouettes have a very Palm Springs vibe to them, but as long as you don’t overload your home with too many kitsch or vintage pieces from the era the style remains sleek and elegant. Holding back on the sharp edges and embracing a more curveous silhoutte – chanelling the vibe at Santa Monica Proper – allows you to stay in tune with the organic styling tendancies of modern California decor. West Elm have a gorgeous selection of midcentury furniture available in pebble, acorn and walnut wood, while John Lewis have a beautiful curved edge sideboard* with slatted sliding doors, again available in both light and dark hues, which is definitely calling to me…
Lead: Parachute berber pillow cover* • 1/ The Citizenry Viento lumbar pillow* • 2/ Vacilando Quilting Co. YKB wall quilt* • 3/ Croft House Hudson platform bed • 4/ Srelle office/dining chair • 5/ Habitat Malibu rug* • 6/ West Elm modern Totem table lamp • 7/ Parachute Canyon Stripe duvet set* • 8/ Anthropologie Clear Skies hammock* • 9/ Ferm Living Insert side table
* Affiliate link