California Style: Exploring the New California Cool

What do you picture when you think of “California Style”? If you envision white slipcovered furniture, Sisal rugs and bleached wood floors, you’re not alone. These breezy coastal inspired looks are classically California — timeless representations, of our natural surroundings and the cool, casual, relaxed mood that thrives in environments by the shore, after all.

My perspective on the new California Style, however, is that it is as rich and varied as our topography, encompassing all aspects of the lush indoor/outdoor lifestyle that our state has to offer. In this column I intend to explore what California style means and how it influences our lives through all aspects of design. Whether it’s our rugged mountains and canyons or our sweeping deserts and coastlines, California’s climate and landscape is — and always has been —the muse for the creative world. In that way, the new California Style almost defies definition. It embraces the spirit of eclecticism, creativity and experimentalism flowing through our environment, and by extension, our lifestyles and homes. White and neutral colors have been replaced with unexpected color palettes of teal blues and slate gray walls. Homeowners are now seeking interiors layered with casual function and sophisticated style as opposed to falling into one note informality. The art of mixing high and low, old and new has never been more sought out in the design community.

Britishborn Jane Hallworth, is one example of a local LA designer who is making her own design rules. When I asked her to define California Style, her answer was predictably complex. “California style is a paradox, a true reflection of the many creatives that seem to live here. It is at once precise and casual. As a designer working and living here, it feels like the epicenter for fearless impeccable eclecticism.”

“California style is a paradox, a true reflection of the many creatives that seem to live here. It is at once precise and casual. As a designer working and living here, it feels like the epicenter for fearless impeccable eclecticism.” -Jane Hallworth

I love the greats of Modernism — Chipperfield, Zumthor, Tadao, John Pawson and Steven Holl. They represent passion restrained. Californians tend to use expensive formal pieces casually and casual pieces formally. This creates an interesting juxtaposition.”

Another favorite local designer of mine, Molly Luetkemeyer, who is known for fearlessly embracing bold colors and mixing contemporary styles with a bohemian vibe, maintains that California Style is all about the outdoors. “California Style is all about comfort, ease and access to the natural world,” she reveals. “The canyons and beaches never fail to inspire. The details from a shell can get me thinking about fabric and patterns, and the colors I see on a hike can inspire a room palette.”

These talented designers embody a modern design esthetic that is constantly evolving, highly nuanced, and building California into their brand. California Style is sophisticated modern; it’s Coastal Mediterranean; it’s a vintage Cliff May ranch off a wild canyon in Brentwood; there are no rules. So, the next time you think of California Style, I hope you envision cozy nooks mixed with hand forged artisan tiles and hardware, walls papered with exposed woods or vivid handmade wallpapers, richly hued accent walls, small vignettes peppered throughout the home with local flowers and vintage finds that add depth and richness to an interior space. This is the new point of view on California Style.

Hero Image courtesy of M. Design Interiors/Jonn Coolidge.

Maggy Siegel is a Los Angeles based lifestyle designer, Vintage Finds buyer for One Kings Lane and a veteran apparel industry leader who pioneered several popular children’s brands. She is a Mother, art & nature lover, and collector of all things chic for the home. Contact information: maggysiegelcastyle@gmail.com.