When Natalie Myers began looking for a new home in Los Angeles for herself and her family, the interior designer (and 2015 Curbed Young Gun) knew what she wanted, where she wanted it, and wasn’t going to be convinced otherwise.
Myers had her sights set on finding a low-slung midcentury home that she could make all her own. She found just such a place in the tight-knit neighborhood of Ladera Heights.
Located in LA’s highly sought-after Westside, Ladera Heights sits snugly between Culver City and Baldwin Hills, and is packed with the kind of coveted midcentury modern homes that dot Los Angeles.
A somewhat newer neighborhood established in the late 1940s, with new homes built after the ’70s, Ladera Heights is known for having a strong sense of community and low housing stock, as homeowners in the area tend to stick around. For Myers, the homes there spoke to her in the way much of California always has, even though she spent most of her childhood in New York.
Myers and her husband were so serious about finding a home in this neighborhood, they decided to list their house and find a buyer for it before they found their dream home. “The clock was running out, and we were getting nervous about settling for a house in an area we didn’t want just to have somewhere to live,” Myers explains. Myers took it as a positive sign from the universe that the morning after a conversation with her anxious agent, a home appeared on the market. “The specs were perfect...I just knew this was my house [and] that we would make an offer before I even saw it.”
At 3,000 square feet, the home, complete with a double-sided lava-stone fireplace, a master suite with its own enclosed garden, and a garage walled in with gorgeous breeze blocks—was in ailing condition. But that’s just what Myers wanted: With her design skills, she says, she knew she could take something from okay to great on a lean budget.
While Myers noted that several other homeowners in the neighborhood took to renovating room-by-room, she decided she would handle her family’s renovation in one fell swoop— while they lived in the house. They moved in on Memorial Day 2017, and by October the renovation was completed.
Myers’s goal was to use the money saved by living in the house while they renovated on the finishes she really wanted. “We made an adventure of camping out in the house while the renovations were happening,” she says. “We also made decisions quickly and placed orders immediately so as not to slow things down.” It also helped that the couple reserved one bathroom and designated it to be remodeled last, slept on mattresses on the floor for the first few months, and survived on a microwave, coffee-maker, and refrigerator while they didn’t have a functioning kitchen.
The renovation produced a blank slate onto which Myers could truly get to work executing her design vision. Myers pulled together vintage and antique furnishings she has collected over time, her sizable collection of ever-rotating rugs and artwork, and added new pieces to meld the home’s midcentury bones with more contemporary, California-chic vibes.
To create a calming environment, Myers relied on a neutral color palette, and accented it with graphic pops of black and white, using this color scheme to complement the materials and finishes. “I am constantly deciding on hues, tones, and color schemes for my client work, so it’s nice to take a visual break at home and keep things as neutral as I can,” Myers explains. Her clients, she says, gravitate toward the elements she brings into play, but she might takes things in “a more glam direction or a more modern direction.”
A central feature of the living space is that large lava-stone fireplace, and natural elements can be seen throughout the home, from furnishings to plants to textiles. Myers has also taken matters into her own hands when the right kind of furniture hasn’t presented itself. When she couldn’t find the simple daybed she was hoping for, for example, she designed it and had it built, added a small mattress, and then heaped pillows and blankets on top. The kids love it.
One room in the house that continues to delight her is the master bath. More compartmentalized before the renovation, Myers had the space drastically expanded, and included a large picture window that will (eventually) look out on to an enclosed patch of green. (It’s still growing, Myers laughs.) “The bathroom is now insanely large [because we’ve combined] different enclosed spaces into one, [and swapped] a closet for a large walk-in shower,” says Myers. “Every shower feels like a luxury,” she adds.
Though Myers acknowledges it may sound a little hokey, she says it feels like her home was meant for her and her family, and that she can’t ever imagine selling it.
“As a designer, it’s been a privilege to nurse this house back to health and give it a happy family to grow with for the next few decades,” she says wistfully. “I feel absurdly connected to it in a way I haven’t to other places I’ve lived.”