House Tour: A Cozy Marin Home Designed for Bookworms
(John Merkl, original photo on Houzz)

House Tour: A Cozy Marin Home Designed for Bookworms


Sometimes simple and understated can be an even greater challenge than mixing tons of patterns and colors within a space. That's what designers Kelly Hohla and Celeste Barnes-Bremer say they discovered when their longtime clients tapped them to finish the interior of their newly built home in a style vastly different from the design firm's colorful signature.

The family of four wanted clean, modern lines with an emphasis on soft and comfortable textures and spaces ideal for enjoying their favorite pastime: curling up with a good book. Every detail of this home is thoughtfully curated and considered.

Houzz at a Glance

Who lives here: A family of four

Location: Marin County, California

Size: About 5,500 square feet (about 511 square meters)

Designers: Kelly Hohla and Celeste Barnes-Bremer of Kelly Hohla Interiors and ZAK Architecture

The family room opens to both the kitchen and the backyard. A custom walnut table with open storage filled with books matches the dimensions of the sectional's back. The designers added extra built-in storage for the family's books around the fireplace. The room's only real patterns are found in the Holland & Sherry buffalo-check print on the thick custom draperies and in the intricate cutouts in the copper coffee table. These elements add a bit of interest and finish to the space.

The dining room called for a little more pattern, which the design team achieved primarily through the rug selection. Rug purveyor Tai Ping created a custom palette of soft blues and grays with a pop of charcoal.

The living room fireplace surround and built-in bookcases are covered in shiplap. The homeowners are avid art collectors and were delighted by the abstract Ian Kimmerly painting that Hohla brought in from Dolby Chadwick Gallery.

"Clean and pulled-back" is how Hohla describes this restrained master bedroom. Fitzgerald Upholstery constructed a custom headboard of worsted wool fabric panels nestled into a cerused oak frame with integral floating nightstands. Other standout design elements include the Krisma throw pillow for a pop of pattern and the chunky knit blanket for texture. The Jiun Ho brass and leather bench provides yet another surface for books.

Across from the bed is custom oak cabinetry designed to house still more books and a TV that pops out on demand. In front of the cabinets are versatile swivel chairs from A. Rudin and a custom ottoman from New York's Van den Akker, featuring a walnut base with rivet details. Vanessa Marsh photos, also from Dolby Chadwick Gallery, are propped atop the cabinet.

One wing of the upstairs is dedicated to the couple's two preteen daughters. Each girl has a bedroom and an adjoining playroom.

The peaked ceiling created an ideal opportunity to add wallpaper. When it comes to using wallpaper, Hohla recommends full commitment: "If you're going to do wallpaper, don't skimp. Why fall in love with a paper and just limit it to one wall?" She acknowledges that some walls call for a singular wallpaper accent, but peaked ceilings call for more. "It looks so much more finished" when you paper the soffits and upper walls, she says.

The same budding musician chose wallpaper for her bedroom as well. The kids were fully involved in all the design decisions for their rooms. The team went through about 10 different rounds of material selection with them; in many ways, they were the most discerning clients in the house, the designers say. The taller wall at the head of the bed presented another ideal playground for wallpaper, while the rest of the room was kept white. Both girls have very "adult" taste and are sensitive to texture.

The other daughter's room, across the hall, reflects the same inclination toward soft texture and color. Unlike her sister, she didn't want pattern on the wall, so the team used it in the carpet instead. The upholstered headboard covered in pink, magenta and navy stripes complements the lavender grasscloth wallpaper.

// This story was written by Jess McBride and originally published on Houzz.

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