Designer Kim Gordon Creates Bo-Ho Chic in Venice

Few people understand the changing face of Venice better than property designer Kim Gordon; she is changing the landscape one property at a time. Gordon designs and develops one-of-a-kind luxury homes in the area, selling them for millions to creatives who epitomize the new ARTISTIC face of Venice; and her uber popular, boho-chic modern homes are intentionally designed with them in mind.

Kim Gordon homes are luxury transformations with a focus on natural light and warm interiors. Gordon stages the homes with custom touches mixed with vintage finds, and flips them for as much as $4 million and up. Buyers of her homes include the likes of TBWA\Chiat\Day creative chief Stephen Butler and True Religion Apparel Inc. alum Kelly Furano and her husband, Keith Eshelman of Toms Shoes, plus young tech entrepreneurs from Google, Yahoo and Snapchat.

The signatures of Gordon’s homes are huge steel framed windows, lighting made to compliment artwork, and plaster walls, hand troweled for texture. Layers of organic and luxurious custom details create a uniquely rich, quintessential California chic contemporary vibe. Once in a Kim Gordon home I guarantee you, you will never want to leave. Her homes are one-of-a-kind California styled luxury homes that welcome the natural elements of the outdoors and evoke emotion, along with a casual sense of sophistication and warmth. I sat down with the ever so approachable and charming Kim Gordon, to discuss style, vintage and her perfectly designed homes…

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I’m a huge fan, your design style is (in my opinion) quintessentially California! How has the California lifestyle influenced your design esthetics?

I am from the East Coast and when I first moved here I was confused by all different exteriors, shapes, and sizes of houses … now after 20+ years I get it. It’s freedom of expression. It’s your imprint on the place you choose to call home. In designing the home, itself, the design is first dictated by the lot size and shape. Then, I watch the sun, feel where the breeze is coming from. This is California and we want nature inside  our homes. So paying attention to all these factors with an emphasis on interior landscaping—which I’m planning on working with much more in depth on some new projects—is exciting and very California. Mixing crunchy elements with some smooth sling on the interior is also very California.

You do a fantastic job mixing vintage and modern, however not everyone can pull this off. What do you feel is the biggest mistake designers make trying to achieve this look?

Inauthentic choices—I really have some trashed/loved up pieces layered into a modern room. Charming

pieces are necessary too. So it’s not too serious—I have a ridiculous Mid-Century tree branch duck that is in all my houses. People use too much industrial, too much metal.

I’m always curious when I meet successful people what their routine is, would you say you are a morning person or night person?

I wake up at 4:30am every morning and write out lists of whatever my brain and heart were working on while I was sleeping. I am in bed reading to my 8 year old at 9pm, so I am pretty perky at 4:30am. I send emails then too!

As the builder, as well as the designer, what is the “strangest/oddest” thing you have ever discovered while in the demolition stage?

A mummy cat in perfect petrified condition.

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Soaring spaces and custom steel windows, beautiful details in wood, stone, and hand-troweled plaster are some of your trademark styles. However, I’m  certain you have heard the term “The devil is in the details” what are some of the “smaller details” your homes have, that set them apart from the rest?

The flow of the house, how the light falls from the floor to the ceiling windows, the layers in staging to include charming bits. Food and flowers on the counter when you arrive to see it. And succulents and plants to add warmth.

Name three things you do not leave home without?

After I’ve got back into the house three times to grab the important things I forget: My lapis ring, cell phone, and glasses.

Your properties are very recognizable and have virtually changed the landscape of various parts of the Venice community. I’m certain it has not always been easy; once an area infested with gangs, drug dealing and run down bungalows there are now million dollar properties. What has been your biggest challenge in the gentrification of Venice?

The people who feel that Venice should not change, which is a common issue with gentrification. I speak of the new artists moving to Venice. They aren’t painters anymore, they are fashion designers, movie people, and of course the people who design games and the Internet. The entire world is changing. The entertainment field is an industry that has always been attracted to Venice and somehow the old guard doesn’t want anything fresh … another challenge has been the architects who started in the 90s with a certain design formula: boxier/wood on the ceiling/cement floors … when I started to offer a different style—and mind you I am self taught—I caught a lot of flack and still do from the architectural old guard.

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Your homes have a modern California cozy design aesthetic uniquely your own; (put it this way you are not building Cape Cod style homes in Venice California). How have you maintained the integrity of your brand while keeping each new home distinctly different from the last and not looking formulaic?

I cannot tell you Maggy how much I appreciate you saying that. Because the windows are so distinctive I hear, “Oh, that’s a Kim Gordon House,” and of course people are making houses to look a little more like ours. But I try so crazy, crazy hard to be different in every house that my partner Mauricio Suarez gets annoyed when he suggests the same something or another from a previous home and I bristle. It’s easier to copy the same house, that’s what’s been happening in Venice. Houses are so close together that when you get one architect making the same house, with the same color exterior and the same floor plan it ticks off the neighbors. I have two houses only one house away from each other and I was really challenged to make them different. In my mind I called the one house “Winter” and the second house “Summer.” I am really proud of how different they both are.

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If I had to pick one thing I love most about your homes, it would have to be the ceiling-to-floor windows, and how they bring nature in and showcase the natural light. What would be yours?

The windows for sure, which is Mauricio’s signature. The exterior plantings are really important. High ceilings are difficult to wrestle away from the HVAC guy. I love bathrooms.

What is your favorite room in your own home?

I have a 10’ kitchen island that faces the living and dining rooms, and doors that open to the pool with the flowing water from a fountain. Our home is complete heaven to me.

Your clients may range from tech entrepreneurs to Pottery Barn Moms, what is the one thing, you find most interesting that everyone loves?

I am so proud and happy that both men and women can find happy here. “We found home where we agree … he wants super modern, she wants traditional.” How cool is that?

665 Milwood Avenue photographs courtesy of Brandon Arant.