There is a hard-to-describe look to Southern California interiors. They can be especially visual, something that needs to be seen to be understood.
One doesn't have to live in the desert or at the beach to have a home with the "California Look." Nor is the look limited to large homes. Yet some designers believe there is a certain philosophy to be strictly adhered to in order to have the look . Others say what we have that other parts of the country seem to lack is a relaxed attitude toward interior design. Still others categorize our design styles as simply "laid back" or "California Casual."
One thing many Southern Californians share is that our homes are built to capitalize on sunlight and to provide views of our surrounding landscapes. Consequently, many of the most effective interiors are intentionally kept subtle so that interiors don't compete with exteriors.
Design innovation and fresh ideas are not new to our region. There really is no one type of decor here that is considered better than another or one that is the most popular. Today's best designs are really not the trendy ones. They're styles that are comfortable to look at and to live with for many years.
Our life styles and interiors are influenced by many factors: geography, style and age of the home we live in, climate, our various heritages. Interior design choices are, of course, personal. Design in general is all a matter of interpretation and reinterpretation, and today's best designers adapt styles to suit a client's tastes and needs.
One of the most popular trends in Southern California interior design is a very "blond" look--bleached wood floors, white or off-white walls and ceilings, white or light-colored oversize upholstered furniture, a few light-finished or whitewashed antique wood pieces, light-colored stone or travertine tables, little or nothing covering large sunny windows, lots of French doors that open to the outside from virtually every room, and no clutter of ditsy accessories.
Another style being interpreted here is the Southwestern. We didn't invent the Southwestern style, but our best designers have adapted this trend.
Southwestern is no longer a style merely attributable to the desert areas and Santa Fe. Within this style one can work with many color philosophies--terra-cotta tones, pale pastels, even bright colors. Peeled lodgepole pine furniture and other rustic wood furnishings have become synonymous with Southwest, as have floors of terra-cotta tile and rough-finished wood. Indian rugs, pottery and roughly textured fabrics are other looks that work with this decorating style.
For at least a decade, Southern California's best-designed upholstery has been overscaled, plump and deep, a trend that definitely began here.
It has taken a while, but manufacturers across the country have adopted these larger proportions for upholstered furniture and have termed them "California-scaled." Use of casual canvas duck, still one of the most popular upholstery fabrics, is another trend that started here.
And when canvas became embellished with bold hand-painted brush strokes of color, that too started here. Luxurious hand-painted silk as an upholstery fabric has been another Southern California innovation.