Work and distraction balance in the office, where a record player is one of several novelties housed by the built-ins.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY MELLON STUDIO
Past the entry hall, where a hot-pink cupcake offers a playful seat to kick off one’s shoes, past the office, where a magenta chair and ottoman provide a flamboyant nest for creative thinking, and stepping into the great room, one finds a fuchsia tome, resting at an angle on a low table. Its title, Not Neutral: For Every Place, Its Story, is more than apropos.
Whether placed there for its vibrancy and striking cover graphics or for its content — it’s a thick monograph by Los Angeles–based architectural firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios — is rather beside the point. The book epitomizes every inch of this turnkey-designed second home in La Quinta, cherry-picked down to the dishes and towels for a husband who loves pink, a wife who values easy maintenance, and their teenage daughter, who needs her own, cool-enough-to-bring-friends-over casita.
Designer Jeff Valenson partnered with the Newport Beach–based family to enliven the four-bedroom residence they purchased optimistically, choosing to disregard its drab coat made of boring choices.
“You get a lot of information from that first encounter,” Valenson says of the day he met the clients for a tour. “The husband is a very easygoing, funny, generous guy — and he was wearing pink socks.” From that moment on, Valenson was off and running with their keywords and phrases looping in his mind. A “fun,” “unusual and colorful,” “weekend oasis for friends and family” summed up their objective. “He said to me, ‘Remember when you were young, and you traveled places, and you can still remember those great environments?’ He wanted that kind of welcoming place, conducive to an especially memorable time.”
Candy-shop colors and sweet touches now tempt the eye throughout the sizable modern Mediterranean. Curves in the architecture echo in the furnishings, establishing a lighthearted atmosphere. Valenson agrees, this is the kind of home that makes you smile. Its golf course views are a plush green counterpoint to life at the beach, but equally relaxing. “It’s not your mama’s Mediterranean,” he says with a laugh. “It’s livable and casual but not what you would expect. We really let our imaginations go.”
The palette traces in part to a circular painting by Los Angeles artist Andy Moses. Energy and motion — contained, but barely — swirl together in the blue-and-white piece. Its prominent position in the entertaining heart of the home, visible from multiple vantage points inside and out, encourages a loose air of weekend-style whimsy and freedom.
On the other side of the great room, “Love Is All You Need,” sizzles its glowing reminder in bubble-gum pink neon. A raspberry popsicle in sculptural form “melts” atop the colossal custom console, which hugs the colossal custom couch. Eighty-two yards of white, indoor-outdoor fabric by Pierre Frey covers the largest custom sofa Valenson has ever ordered. “That’s twice as much upholstery as the average sofa,” he notes, adding that somehow there’s always room for one more guest to settle in. No less important than its organic good looks, the perch is as easy to clean as the custom indoor-outdoor rug, a key piece that builds a bright bridge between the indoor and outdoor furniture. At its edge, two cup-like blue Ottoman Armchairs by Ligne Roset swivel out to the view beyond.
When everyone gathers in the dining room, that view joins them at the table. The glossy top of the custom dining table with a faux live edge adopts a heavenly blue cast on clear days or remains white if the sky is overcast. This is the only room devoid of color. “I wanted a sophisticated, white-on-white room that doesn’t dictate anything,” Valenson says. “So, whatever you may be celebrating, your place settings and fresh flowers pop.” Valenson says the rumpled metal sculptures by Atticus Adams remind him of asteroids that have fallen to Earth. Others might see giant, balled-up foil gum wrappers, tossed aside with each fresh stick.
In re-imagining the dual kitchen islands, Valenson added contemporary waterfall edges. Charcoal veining in the Pental Quartz, reminiscent of pencil strokes trailing along a page, cleverly nods to the daughter who likes to draw. Look up and catch three cloud-shaped lighting fixtures floating at different heights. As cheerful as the jumbo cupcake inside the front door, the clouds bring a functional wisp of pop art and a measured sense of play.
Lest anyone take work too seriously, the office incorporates a few amusements in step with the Moel armchair and ottoman in magenta by Linge Roset. Tucked into the built-ins are a pink sailing ship, a record player, and a splay of neon LED tubes from MoMA Design Store that conjure illuminated Pixy Stix. Natural light filters in on three sides from the courtyard, the foyer, and the great room, but drapes can close to manage privacy. Like Not Neutral in the living area, a number of books flaunt colorful spines — collected on a client-and-designer shopping trip.
The husband’s love of pink influenced the wallpapered powder room as well — a place Valenson likens to “stepping inside a peony. Pink just makes everyone’s skin look great,” he says. “Especially with those lighted mirrors.”
Paint is the magic behind the long, immersive hallway, saturated in three shades of blue for a subtle ombre effect few may even detect. Then it’s back to wallpaper for the three bedrooms in the main home. A blurred photo mural of an orchard completes the tangerine room; a tonal wallpaper in a pixelated pattern modernizes the daughter’s watermelon sanctuary. The primary bedroom, adjacent to the patio terrace and pool, favors blue in its mural of sun-dappled water.
Light panels that sync with music playlists fill a wall in the daughter’s bedroom and one in her camp-out casita. Washed in lavender, her second retreat feels decidedly youthful, with a bunkbed, a stack of cat puzzles, and a vintage game of Candyland. She and her friends pile into the dining banquette in the mini kitchen and revel in having the place all to themselves, stocked with everything they need.
Valenson swept more color outdoors and across the “rather palatial pool deck.” A berry-hued burst of pink, red, and blue chairs encircling the fire pit is among the “curated casual” options for sitting, dining, lounging, swinging, and tanning in the pool. A large, curved sofa faces the flat-screen television. “We wanted all the amenities of a hotel,” he says. “But you’re comfortable at home.”
The opportunity to design turnkey, he adds, creates a consistent thread throughout a home. “Everything goes together without being matchy-matchy, but there’s an intention,” he says. “I love the whole story of the house” and its many not-neutral moments ready to welcome new memories.