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Vintage Style in a Southern California Home
Hand-me-downs and flea market finds are given new life in a designer's Huntington Beach home
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It could be argued that designers Amanda Malson and Jolene Ballard are about as eco-friendly as they come. No, there are no solar panels on Amanda’s home—which the design duo (and co-founders of Domicile Interior Design) worked on together. Nor does either drive a hybrid car. As Amanda is quick to point out, however, most everything they used to fill her small bungalow in Huntington Beach, California, has been recycled.
Hand-me-downs salvaged from family attics line the walls. Flea-market finds fill shelves. Vintage pieces rescued from Goodwill or designer tag sales have been reincarnated. No nearby flea market, estate, or tag sale goes unscoured.
“We love to give things new life,” says Amanda. “We have so much fun rummaging through flea markets and finding things together. What we love most about finding a really great piece of vintage furniture is that it’s always so well made. Usually there are some really great bones hiding behind all that old, worn fabric.”
“And we also love that there’s a story behind everything—that it all has a past,” adds Jolene. (After working together for four years, the two often finish each other’s sentences.)
Photography: Dominique Vorillon
Living Room With Colorful Accents
Color plays a large role in Amanda’s home as well—if only in measured doses. Neutral backgrounds are punctuated with shots of color—mostly red, orange, and gold. A grouping of vibrant red-and-orange pillows on the off-white sofa draws the eye.
If there’s such a thing as subtly dramatic, Amanda’s living room fits the bill. “We like to use a lot of black and pop it off white walls,” says Amanda. “There is a simplicity that takes shape when you restrain and focus the amount of color that is used. Functionally, it is so easy to work with a neutral backdrop, then add in punches of color in upholstery and accessories.”
Modern + Vintage
A family piece, Amanda’s dining room table is likely over 100 years old. To add a more contemporary air, Amanda added reproduction Mart Stam chairs she and her father rescued from a consignment store. The light fixture—ceramic and gilt—is from the 1960s.
In a diminutive house packed with personality and filled with exceptional vintage pieces, the most important elements are all about family. A cherished domino set recalls memories of games with her grandfather. A kitchen table and collection of china from her grandmother remind Amanda of 5 p.m. “family meetings.” Much of the artwork adorning walls and tabletops is from dear old dad—a prolific painter, jewelrymaker, and sculptor.
Monochromatic piles of books dot mantels, tables, and desktops.
A white-on-white kitchen is interrupted with the subtlest addition of color in the painted shelves—made apparent when cabinet doors were removed.
To create a cozy home office, desks were covered in white linen and partnered with vintage desk chairs reupholstered in “the perfect green,” says Amanda. Coat hooks bejeweled with trims and accoutrements hang above an inspiration/chalkboard—an organized girl’s best friend.
“My style is what I like to call ‘gallery style’—white walls stacked with personal collections of art and objects,” says Amanda.
“Having a good base is essential,” says Jolene. “A neutral background is great, but adding colorful accents is important to insert energy into the space. You can think of it like a wardrobe—neutral basics are great, but it’s always good to add a shot of color through your accessories.”
Neutral Master Bedroom
The master bedroom is filled with Amanda’s hand-me-down mid-century pieces, or what her father likes to call “early family.” “I love the contrast between the rich soft woods of that era positioned next to my bright white bedding,” says Amanda. “Jolene and I both love white bedding. It always looks great and is actually really easy to take care of. I just throw it in the wash, and voilà!”
“The goal for my home was to create a space that reflects my personal design style, tastes, and sensibilities,” explains Amanda. “I have many pieces of art and objects that were created by my mother and father and several creative friends. Each piece of furniture, artwork, or object is something that has been selected because I fell in love with it immediately. Everywhere I turn I see something I love.”
What traditional means to Amanda Malson and Jolene Ballard:
- Albert Hadley and Dorothy Draper
- Details—in furniture, molding, and hardware
- Displaying family heirlooms, not only for memories’ sake but because they’re still in style
- Hand-drafting and sketching
- Heirloom quality, iconic furniture—the Eames lounge chair is a perfect example