How to do 'California cool' interiors

2/25/2016 11:55:00 am HELEN STILES 0 Comments


I've long been a fan of Californian interiors – whether it's Kelly Wearstler's glamorous and flamboyant style, Amber Lewis's bright and colourful creations or Commune Design's laid-back, collected rooms. We might not get quite so many hours of sunshine here in Blighty but that doesn't meant there isn't lots to borrow from the Californians when it comes to interior design.

I've been beavering away on the Spring/Summer collection for the Hide & Seek store, which gives a big nod to California Dreaming. So I thought I'd elaborate a little about what's come to be known as 'California cool.' The image above, by Commune Design, does a pretty good job of summing up the look, but in no particular order, here's my take on how to do California cool....

1. Keep it laid-back and liveable. If there's one thing that really defines the Cali-cool look, it is relaxed and inviting. You won't find anything too uptight, symmetrical or immaculate (perfect for those of us with children and/or pets!) Use furniture that is comfortable and there to be sat (or jumped) on and throw in something a little worn or aged to keep things laid-back.

2. Go natural. Think plenty of organic materials and natural textures: wicker, rattan, wood, cowhides, sheepskins, some more wood. Whether it's a beach-front condo or a ski-lodge in the mountains, Californian interiors lean heavily on natural elements. Did I mention wood?

3. Add some greenery. I guess being so close to all that nature it's inevitable that Californian interiors will bring it inside. Whether it's potted cacti and succulents or huge, structural plants such as the much-loved fiddle-leaf fig tree, a little greenery really helps bring a room to life. Even a trusty old spider-plant dangling from a bookshelf will help!

4. Global textiles. Californian design incorporates rugs, cushions and throws from around the world - whether it's hand-dyed indigo and mud cloth from Africa,  or leather pouffes and wedding blankets from Morocco, anything goes. The key is to mix confidently and nonchalantly to create that collected, worldly and well-travelled look.

5. Use great rugs. California-cool rooms nearly always contain an amazing rug. Whether it's a beautiful vintage kilim from Turkey or a Moroccan beni ourain or boucherouite, the floor is never forgotten.

6. Include some leather. If it's well-worn, then all the better! Think natural tan and black in particular and bring it in on dining chairs, pouffes or vintage sofas. (Avoid the 80s bachelor pad look by keeping the shapes slim and modern).

7. Mid-century influence. The love affair with mid-century furniture design continues – and the Californians love it perhaps more than anyone. In fact many of the best vintage pieces from Northern Europe have been shipped there (sob). Think great 60s sofas, day-beds, teak armchairs and dining sets.

8. Industrial elements. California cool often embraces a little industrial chic. It could be a repurposed industrial cabinet, a factory pendant or wall lights or simply some steel legs on a coffee or console table. The trick is offsetting all those organic elements with a slightly harder edge.

So, hopefully that's got you thinking of sunnier climes even if it is mid-February! I thought I'd spend the next few posts expanding on each of the elements above with a few more pictures, ideas and shopping suggestions. And for anyone who'll be in London next month, come and see Hide & Seek's take on the look at the Country Living Spring Fair (16th-20th March). Book your tickets here quoting code EX16S41 for your exclusive Hide & Seek discount). Let me know what you think!

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