Consider it the Tahoe interiors episode of What Not to Wear—when designers Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone of Consort appear on the doorstep of a Westerny, wood-shingled home nestled in the trees on the east lakeshore and give rooms—formerly dressed in a taupy-brown, antler-accessorized wardrobe—a whole new look.
“We didn’t want the typical ski lodge vibe,” Quattrone says. “Instead, we wanted classic with a modern twist, a fashion-forward point of view.”
So too did Consort’s clients, a young family from Hermosa Beach, California, who bought the place for their vacation home. Built in the 1980s, it had been renovated, but the decor was straight out of a chain store—“not this family’s aesthetic,” Quattrone says. “They’re a colorful, fun, beachy family,” he says. “Our goal was to make the house reflect their personality—young and fresh, punchy and vibrant.”
That meant it was time to grab the paintbrushes. “When we walked in, everything was taupy brown,” Sanders says. “We changed that to give each room color to suit its mood.”
In the living room, chunky wood beams and a natural-stone fireplace wall already had the requisite rustic notes covered, so the designers whitewashed the rest of the space. “We wanted it to be white, bright, and airy,” Quattrone says.
When it comes to decorating, Sanders is fearless. When it comes to bears, not so much. “I run from the car to the house every time I’m here,” Sanders laughs. So for a bit of fun, a faux bear head became part of the gallery wall. The side table, a piece from the Consort shop, is a vintage find from the Rose Bowl flea market. In a former life, it was used to grind grain.
In contrast, they coated the home’s other gathering space, the former dining room, in rich blue. “The tone-on-tone gives it this deep den vibe,” Sanders says. “It’s a great place to chill.”
When a houseful of friends are here, though, the social magnet is a sequoia-size wood table snuggled into a corner of the kitchen.
“It’s enormous—it will seat 20 people,” Sanders says. “It’s where everyone gathers for coffee in the morning and a glass of wine at the end of the day. It’s really the heartbeat of the house.”
He and Quattrone traded out black vinyl upholstery on the cushions for blue outdoor fabric on benches to make the setting more inviting. The same fabric also was used in the banquette in an adjacent gathering spot under an antler chandelier that came with the house.
“We kept the antler fixture to maintain a bit of the classic Tahoe vibe, then paired it with the modern furniture we love,” Sanders says.
The designers gave the traditional kitchen a light, bright, and airy attitude with lots of fresh white and a few modern details, like the industrial-style pendants. “White cabinets and bright stone can make a kitchen,” Sanders says.
From the sleek table pulled up to the banquette to a Wegner-inspired chair in the living room to the leggy credenza in the master bedroom, midcentury-modern touches abound, mixing with rustic and traditional elements to achieve intriguing alchemy.
“This is my favorite room—lovely, airy, and neutral,” says Sanders, who’s always looking for alternatives to artwork above a bed. Here, he found it in the organic beauty of raw wood, crowning the tone-on-tone bed with a giant cross-section of a tree trunk.
“Everything we do is cutting-edge classic,” Quattrone says. “It’s timeless, livable, approachable, but it also has to be edgy and cool—and feel very collected. The most important thing for us is that every home we touch must tell the story of the people who live there.”
“I love it when a client wants to be bold,” Sanders says. “Here, we followed their wishes and piled pattern on pattern on pattern. Their kids are becoming teenagers—that means you have to be a little edgy.”
Tips of the Trade
Mat Sanders and Brandon Quattrone founded their L.A. design business, Consort, in 2014 and recently added a retail component offering their eclectic mix of vintage and new. Here’s how they bring a cutting-edge twist to classic design.
- Paint everything.Coating walls, ceilings, window frames and mullions, even details like rope trim, maintains a room’s classic architecture while injecting fresh attitude.
- Create contrast. Keep classic elements like rustic ceiling beams, but juxtapose them against modern furniture, color, and pattern.
- Get personal.Collected pieces make a house a home—and give it a signature look. Incorporate treasured family pieces, flea market finds, and fun new pieces that express your unique personality.
Photography: Matt Sartain