Take a Tour of This Modern California Farmhouse Designed by Kate Lester

Designer Kate Lester has created a modern farmhouse vibe in this California home with help from the owner’s vintage treasures. Most of the other furniture reflects its roots in Oklahoma, while architectural details, contemporary fixtures, and unique flooring exude a relaxed aesthetic. Spread throughout the space, which the family of four shares with their cat, are treasured heirlooms, including porcelain from the woman’s grandmother and a beloved wooden dining table. “If everything was new, the house wouldn’t be so cool,” says Kate, who is based in Hermosa Beach, Calif.

To transform this Manhattan Beach, California property into a modern farmhouse fit for a family of four, Kate relied on a dazzling mix of contemporary and rustic touches.

Cooked

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, kitchen photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Add simple wood panels.

Kate used simple wood panels behind shelves and chose a wood range hood for a farmhouse touch while sticking to a classic black and white palette throughout the house. To showcase the owner’s impressive collection of vintage finds, she played with placement and scale by propping up her favorite pieces instead of hanging them.

For a similar look: Blake White Server, mybobs.com; Ivy Bronx Kamren Arm Sconces, wayfair.com.


Dining room

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, rustic bench at dining table photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Replace the dining room seating with a rustic bench.

Kate made a pillow and tied it to a wooden bench with recycled leather straps. The table belonged to the owner’s grandmother and the fabric of the chair is reminiscent of vintage grain bags.

For a similar look: Antique Whitney Linen with Distressed Gray Bench by Liberty, overstock.com.


Living room

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, living room photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

High-end false fronts of drawers.

Do you like the look of the small individual drawers but need more storage? Have your contractor make grooves in a large, basic dresser to give the illusion of small drawers, then attach whatever hardware you want, suggests Kate.

For a similar look: Rustic Farrow Coffee Table by Linon Home, bedbathandbeyond.com; Wesley Microfiber Sofa with Rolled Arms by Lifestyle Solutions, homedepot.com.


Bedroom

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, bedroom photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Go for high contrast.

Kate nailed the look with a black four poster bed to anchor the room and a reclaimed wood beam to the ceiling. “Browns, blacks and other dark tones add instant sophistication,” she says.

For a similar look: Dubay four poster bed by Hashtag Home, wayfair.com.


Bathrooms

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, bathroom, powder room photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Put a farmhouse sink in the powder room.

Kate took some surprising risks in the powder room. With a farmhouse sink in a striking black hue, she used rich blue wall panels to draw the eye to a vintage paper floral wall (and ceiling) covering.

For a similar look: Blanco Precis Anthracite single bowl undermount sink, lowes.com.

manhattan beach, ca, property, modern farmhouse style, bathroom photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Add striking black accents.

A shower door with a transom opening allows steam to escape and adds interest. Patterned tiling breaks up an otherwise all-white room.


Game room

playroom with daybed in the corner photo by amy bartlam design by kate lester interiors

Amy bartlam

Build a daybed in a corner.

Kate transformed one end of the playroom into a comfortable space for lounging by adding a huge custom daybed topped with a mattress-style pillow and storage underneath that the owner uses for wrapping paper . She finished off the casual space with mismatched pillows and an intriguing gallery nook with vintage polo mallets.

For a similar look: Carmelita Full Daybed, wayfair.com; Nayland woven throw blanket, anthropologie.com; Planets Decal, crateandbarrel.com; Suri Block Print Cotton Rug, worldmarket.com; “Ask More Questions” Print, Anthony Burrill.

A version of this feature appeared in the July / August 2020 issue of Good Housekeeping.

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