Nestled into the relaxed hillside of Los Feliz in Los Angeles, California, this colorful French style cottage fits perfectly within the neighborhood of established and aspiring creative types. Homeowner and designer Kaari Zabala took an innovative approach to the design of her home, combining old and new pieces, along with French and Native American-inspired décor.
“There are lots of primitive pieces used to soften the atmosphere,” she says. “We have a mix of old and new in our home—but mostly old!” Kaari is the owner of the popular craft-workshop store, French General. Her store promotes a French-inspired lifestyle and sells items like textiles, ephemera collections and household décor found only in France. Her affinity for French things are directly seen in her own home as well.
Kaari keeps the store and her inspiration thriving with her trips to the South of France every summer, utilizing the items from her store and inspiration from her trips in the design of her home. With a twist on traditional provincial style, she takes advantage of unique décor, combinations of old and new, rustic elements and a vibrant color palette to bring the essence of French style to her home.
Built in 1936, Kaari’s home is 1,500 square feet of cozy space that channels classic aspects of provincial style. Throughout the home, Kaari creates feelings of grace and comfort that are highly valued by the French.
In the main bedroom, pieces such as a hanging chandelier, bedside lamp and chair boast feminine curves and gilded accents that add fanciful flourishes to the space. A lovely French sliding glass door opens up to the exquisite backyard, bringing the outdoors into the elegant design of the bedroom.
The kitchen boasts a mix of fine antiques and rustic patinas. While kitchens used to simply be a place to cook, Kaari turned her kitchen space into a display for her favorite collectibles. A country-inspired armoire has open shelving to display her delicate chinaware and, inspired by French vintage, Kaari turned one of the walls into a display of old-fashioned scissors, framed butterflies and other household items.
The main table, on the other hand, speaks to the relaxing atmosphere of a French marketplace with bright sunflowers, croissants and fresh jam. The chandelier adds a touch of elegance to the space, while a gilded painting brings in a rural element. These décor items blend the rustic and the refined in the space, creating a comfortable and inviting atmosphere.
Color and Textiles
In the living room, Kaari combines her passion for textiles with a classic French theme. She loves to collect antique Navajo rugs and uses them to cover the floors of her home. Their colorful presence prompted her to use their color schemes as inspiration for her color palette, resulting in reds, creams and earthy browns. To help balance the boldness of the bright reds, she created a contrast with soft yellow accent walls and creamy linen décor.
Kaari takes advantage of her own collection of fabrics from French General to create lovely patterned pillows in plaid and striped designs, as well as for upholstering most of the homes daybeds, sofas and chairs. She uses Old World sensibility paired with cheerful colors and patterns to channel French provincial style throughout her home. To help others achieve the style, Kaari suggests repurposing old textiles. Try reinforcing old quilts with a layer of linen on the back or use old tablecloths to make pillow covers. Kaari says, “Every scrap of fabric can be used to add personality to your home.”
This story originally appeared in the Summer 2018 issue of French Style Magazine. Pick up your copy today for more elegant French country inspiration!