A child-friendly home doesn’t have to sacrifice elegance for functionality. Consider this Spanish-style home in Griffith Park, Los Angeles, that Frances Merrill of revamped for a television showrunner and his wife and two daughters. “They’re a cute, young family and their house didn’t really reflect that,” explains Merrill, who founded her studio in 2009. A formal library clearly saw little use, so Merrill transformed it into a playroom whose coziness makes it appealing to adults and children alike. A large kitchen, on the other hand, was the most-trafficked space, but lacked distinctive areas and polish. Merrill carved out a pantry and mudroom and added custom white oak cabinetry to give it a modern, comforting vibe.
The home also benefited from Merrill’s distinctive color sense. Aqua octagonal tiles create a soothing tone in the entryway, pistachio velvet sofas add warmth to the living room and a merlot backsplash in the kitchen acts as a pop of interest. Throughout, Merrill juxtaposed contemporary pieces with older things the family owned, as in the dining room whose Ken Petersen custom dining table is offset by a grandfather clock. “So much of the work we do with people is figuring out how to make it feel like it could only be their home,” she says. Here, Merrill offers us a tour.
The previous floor tile was a less interesting terracotta. Merrill added lightness by selecting aqua tiles from Mission Tile West. “I wanted to find something that felt like it could always have been here, but was also fresh and bright,” she explains. There are more blue tones in the stair runner from Melrose Carpets and a gorgeous custom table by Ken Petersen grounds the space. It is topped with a copper lamp by Bludot.
Merrill retained the room’s original layout, but reupholstered the white sofas in a lime-pistachio velvet by Kravet. “The light hits it beautifully,” she notes. The wooden frame chairs are vintage from Consort and Merrill added custom leather cushions. The carpet is a vintage textile from Lawrence of La Brea, the vintage mid-century lamps on the console are from 1stdibs and the artwork is by Ginny Bishton.
To transform the once-formal library into a playroom, Merrill painted the ceiling a green-grey and added a custom pendant by Filament lighting with a mauve-rose shade in a linen by Pindler Wentworth. The white seats are by RH—“that was so the parents could sit there and they’re also easy to move around”—and the “big, soft rug” is from . An elegant solution to the messiness of childhood play is the table: it’s from and Merrill bought it unfinished so it could absorb the girls’ scribbles. “All of the markers and everything will eventually give it its own patina, a worn-in sheen,” she exudes.
Merrill nodded to the house’s heritage with the Mexican tin mirror, which is from La Fuente Imports. The faucets are by Waterworks.
A darker wood custom table by Ken Petersen grounds the space and is offset by leather backed chairs by Casamidy. A pendant by Apparatus, “glows, it’s so pretty,” notes Merrill, and on the console, a ceramic light by Heather Levine Ceramics casts dashes of light beneath a artwork by Uta Barth. “It’s not formal, but it feels finished and right for the house,” says Merrill of the room.
The space’s former incarnation was both “huge and completely not functional,” says Merrill. She put a pantry between the kitchen and the dining room and the room now feels just as large, but more useful. The focal point is a maroon backsplash of Mosaic House tiles from Mission Tile West. The rift-cut white oak cabinetry is custom by Expressions in Wood, the bar stools are by CB2 and the pendants are by Lumfardo Luminaries. “They have a handblown quality,” says Merrill. “And their scale is big enough to fill the space, but because they’re clear, they don’t block your view.”