Photographed by Ye Rin Mok
It was Marysia Dobrzanska Reeves’s daughter, then nine years old, who first spotted the ultramodern Venice, California, house that would become their family’s home. “We were walking along when she pointed and said, ‘Mommy, let’s go look at that!’” Reeves recalls. The sleek, angular, David Hertz–designed house was just as high-tech as you’d imagine, with each floor’s ceiling acting as a speaker—perfect for its previous owner (a musician), but slightly less conventional for a family with young children and pets. “The challenge,” says Reeves’s interior designer, Martha Mulholland, “was to work with what was already there—this really cool contemporary house—and make it suitable for a SoCal family that wanted something beachy and earthy.” Spoiler: She pulled it off.
A designer herself, Reeves—who is the creator of the high-fashion swim and clothing line Marysia—knows good style. Before hiring Mulholland, she frequented The Apartment by The Line on Melrose Place, which is Vanessa Traina Snow’s shoppable concept boutiqueset up as a fully furnished apartment. “I kept going back and buying things until the guy finally said, ‘Do you want the designer’s name?’ and so I called Martha,” she remembers. When Mulholland got to work on Reeves’s open-plan house, she realized she needed to carve out intimate spaces in order to create coziness. In one particularly creative use of space on a wide landing, a curtain creates a bedroom for Reeves’s daughters. There are soft outdoor benches and cushy reading nooks; even the dining room feels comfortable and welcoming. “Marysia’s home is very spare, so it was about finding pieces to warm it up and give it that bohemian feel.” Careful not to go too rustic, Mulholland incorporated enough modern elements (like iron legs on rattan chairs) to tie everything in with the rest of the house.
Incredibly, Mulholland did not buy a single item online. “Every piece in the house is local, which was a real challenge but also fun,” she says. “Fortunately, L.A. has everything imaginable.” She brought in options from local vendors—sofas and dining chairs and rugs galore, many antiques, from stores like Hammer and Spear, Stahl + Band, JF Chen, and Orange—then she and Reeves spent a day sitting, testing, and swapping things out. “Marysia knows what she likes,” Mulholland says, “but like many people, she’s very busy, so the timeline was tough.” Going 100 percent local allowed Mulholland to dodge annoyances like disappointment and returns. (Who among us hasn’t, say, opened a box to find that celery-toned pillow you ordered more closely resembles wilted lettuce?) “Sometimes,” Mulholland says, “you just need to see it.” She also had to consider the light, another great perk of L.A. living, which is abundant in the home that Reeves and her family call the “glass house.” Mulholland wanted to let it all in, to capitalize on the way it hits furniture and creates sculptural elements. “With a modern design and plenty of natural colors and textures,” Mulholland says, “it’s a place where you can walk in after a long day and be at peace.”
“Lots of people come to L.A. for the light,” says Mulholland, who embraced the brightness of the Reeves family’s home, using light throughout the house as a design element.