White Wash

Posted online: July 2017

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 By Jennifer Blaise Kramer Photographs Coral Von Zumwalt.

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 10.02.53 AMWhen Marietta and Keith Kelt moved from Santa Ynez into their Sea Meadow home 19 years ago, it didn’t have a lot of white space. The walls were a butter hue and the wood floors a French country yellow, and over time they accessorized with cheerful checks and toile. Three years ago, Marietta decided she was ready for a change and looked to longtime friend and designer Erin Taylor for help choosing a paint color. Taylor—who, at the time, owned the home store Botanik in Summerland—agreed, not knowing that one decision would become a floor-to-ceiling transformation with new furniture and an entirely different feel to follow. “I’m never afraid of white, and neither was Marietta,” Taylor says. Marietta says with a laugh: “And neither was my husband!” They settled on Benjamin Moore Simply White and slathered it on every surface.

The Kelts moved into the guest room loft above the garage—which is also whitewashed and adorned with pillows from Taylor’s own collection—while their home was transformed using a very subtle, neutral palette. Now, natural wood, bamboo, jute, and white slipcovered pieces show up in nearly every room, offering an organic, soothing feel that’s a high contrast to the vivid shades and patterns from before. Baskets hang in the hallway as part of an ongoing collection, one of the many friendly collaborations this designer and homeowner have had. “I’m a decorator, but I needed guidance,” says Marietta, aka Lynn Von Keaton—a social media alias stemming from the names of her two idols: designer Lynn von Kersting (of The Ivy restaurants and Indigo Seas boutique in Los Angeles) and Diane Keaton. “Erin knew my vision and made it all come alive.”

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Together, the pair shopped here and in Los Angeles, finding tons of treasures at William Laman, Upstairs at Pierre Lafond, DIANI Living, A Beautiful Mess, and Big Daddy’s Antiques, as nearly all of the previous furniture had to go once the fresh new backdrop was in place. Friends Brooke and Steve Giannetti—who, at the time, were simultaneously creating their famed Patina Farm in Ojai—helped source accessories and chairs from their Giannetti Home line along with upholstery ideas such as using hardware store painter’s cloth for upholstery. Taylor’s husband, Blaine, made several pieces of furniture, including the dining room, entry, and kitchen table.

The kitchen remained very much intact. Rather than ripping out cabinets, Taylor had them painted a custom gray, added new hardware, and put in a reclaimed wood beam above the range for texture. The original blue and white tiles on the backsplash (which also show up in the bathroom) were handpicked by Penny Bianchi, the original designer of the homes within the community and a dear friend of Marietta’s. “Keeping the tiles is a nod to Penny and the history of Sea Meadow,” says Taylor.

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The vintage screen in the living room—one of only five pieces of furniture that survived the remodel—was also a gift from Bianchi. Its painted scene set the tone for the room, which includes greenery, a brass bar, mirrors, a grand piano, and also opens right up to a beautiful backyard and green space. Natural grass window shades were installed with no valance and hidden cords to keep the look more casual. Rather than sofas and love seats, Taylor opted for four swivel chairs, which she says instantly create different con- figurations and viewpoints within a room.

Marietta’s collections pop up all over the home—from tabletop bowls made in New Mexico (where they used to live) to her dad’s old law books to coffee table books on the Kennedys (she and her husband were married 53 years ago, just days after JFK died). Upstairs in the den, a gallery wall came together over the last couple of years with family photos and a playful chalkboard for their grandson. Taylor added cubbies in the table behind the sectional to stash blankets, water bottles, and books for the couple, keeping their lifestyle comfortable and their home decluttered, with the consistent clean, white look throughout.

“It’s quiet, calm, and ethereal. This takes restraint and confidence,” Taylor says, adding with a laugh, “but everything’s moppable and machine washable.”

 

 

[HOME & GARDEN 2017]

 

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