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An Elegant Home for a Young Family

Designer John McClain shapes a graceful home with unexpected touches of modernity for a Netflix film director and his family of four

Written by Sally Finder Weepie
  • Zeke Ruelas

    When a Netflix film director, his wife, and young son made the move from New York to Pacific Palisades, California, they wanted to embrace the sunny attitude of Golden State living while keeping their sophisticated style. They found a home with the good bones they were seeking, then turned to designer John McClain who, as he describes it, "put the icing on a really nice cake." 

    "They wanted light, airy, white rooms," McClain says. "My goal was to help them embrace color to make their interiors more interesting." He accomplished that objective by layering in comfortable blue shades throughout the home.

    He also used other tools to ensure the home captivates as well as calms—starting in the entry hall.

    "I wanted it have movement," the designer says. To get it, he called on a wallcovering that evokes the feeling of smoke or clouds.

    A ceiling painted in high-gloss white adds a reflective quality, while chic console tables with wow factor anchor the space.

  • Zeke Ruelas

    The first room off the hall, the office, justaposes the airy entry with a sea of cozy, masculine stained wood. A coffered ceiling, built-in bookshelves, and a wood desk create a cozy atmosphere in a space where the director can review scripts and meet with actors. 

    A wealth of natural light coming into the streetside room keeps the mood light as it brings the wood grain to life.

    To play off the wood tones, McClain introduced deep blue hues on chair upholstery and the rug.

    "It's a beautiful space to do daily work," he says. 

  • Zeke Ruelas

    A formal living room across the hall from the office provides the couple with a perfect place for intimate entertaining. "It's great for cocktails before dinner," McClain says.

    He custom-designed the armchairs and the tufted sofa—distinguished by traditional brass-capped cone feet. Furniture is covered in creamy white Crypton performance fabric. "It's pretty indestructible," McClain says, "which makes Mom very happy."

    Draperies bring in the same blue tones seen in the office, while a writing desk offers a beautiful place to write a note or pay bills.

    A mirror and lamps layer in a reflective quality while pillows supply welcome texture.

  • Zeke Ruelas

    A cross-stitch artwork depicting the wife's mother, which has been in the family for decades, puts a personal touch into the space.

    "Incorporating personal items makes the home feel collected," McClain says. 

  • Zeke Ruelas

    Like the living room, the dining room bears a formal, sophisticated air that harks back to the couple's roots in the Hamptons.

    McClain used the same subdued yet complex custom wall paint color from room to room for consistency. Custom chairs upholstered in a gray-blue fabric are comfortable for lingering.

    A metallic wallcovering on the ceiling carries through McClain's use of reflective materials and gives an almost textural look. 

    The rug, meanwhile—which is actually carpet that he had cut and bound—adds interest and movement to the neutral space.

    Mixed metals, including polished nickel nailheads and a champagne hue on the chandelier base, also dial up the room's intrigue.

  • Zeke Ruelas

    The kitchen also gets spiced up with a bit of bling—polished-nickel hardware on the classic white cabinets and the simple pendants.

    Vinyl upholstery on bar stools make it easy to clean up after the inevitable peanut butter and jelly incidents.

  • Zeke Ruelas

    Adjacent to the kitchen, the breakfast nook serves as a primary family hangout space.

    McClain juxtaposed the slightly rustic oval oak table with a brass band. "I love to mix elements, mix textures," he says.

    A polished-nickel chandelier meshes harmoniously with the brass, adding interest to the space. "The mix makes design fun—an adventure," McClain says.

    Even fabrics are part of the successful amalgam: White the banquette cushion wears kid-proof fabric, the Roman shades—too high up for little hands to reach—are silk. "It was great to include a really gorgeous patterned fabric," the designer says.

  • Zeke Ruelas

    Just off the kitchen, the family room provides a comfortable hangout spot. 

    McClain added upper shelving units to existing built-in cabinets for balance and to unify their feel with cabinetry in the kitchen. Shelves gracefully display collected items while the kids' toys and games can be put away behind closed doors.

    He also simplified the fireplace, toning down the ornateness to mesh with the style of the home.

    The designer had the roomy sectional custom-made to provide the perfect fit, accomodating the husband's tall stature while still being comfy for the wife. Pillows interject pattern and texture. Upholstered stools, meanwhile, "throw in a bit of dissonance with their mossy green hue," McClain says. "It's something unexpected that causes you to pause for a moment and adds interest to the design."

    Attention to detail also appears on the draperies, which wear classic Greek key trim.

    An atomlike light fixture caps the space with a touch of modernity that balances the traditional aesthetic. 

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    Clad in a rich blue wallcovering above white wainscoting, the powder room reads as a little jewel box.

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    Calm reigns in the guest room, where McClain gave the palette a slightly warmer twist.

    Custom-designed bubble lamps and a patterned drapery fabric add a modern edge to the traditional space.

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    The nursery became the home's biggest surprise. Originally earmarked to serve as another office space, plans changed when, during the design process, the couple learned that baby No. 2 was on the way.

    So McClain changed gears, shaping a room that's comfortable for both parents and child. He re-covered a chair that the couple used in their nursery when their son was born, but used blush fabric that nods to the new addition—a daughter.

    A circular pattern on Roman shades gives a feeling of movement that echoes the feel of soft carpet underfoot. Brass on nailheads and a cocktail table interject warmth.

    To match the surprise of the room itself, McClain finished the space with abstract art. "It's very adult, but very nice for both the baby and parents to look at and enjoy," he says. 

  • Zeke Ruelas

    Outside, the backyard welcomes the family and guests with new furniture from Palacek. Using four chairs rather than a sofa makes it easy for people to move seating where it's needed. And a teak finish weathers well over time. Alongside, an outdoor kitchen handles all of the family's alfresco entertaining needs.