Style Guide: California Cool

August 08, 2013

Style Guide: California Cool


You’ve got a lust for California Cool design–that simple, streamlined aesthetic that rose to popularity in the middle of the last century.  And while tricking out your home in Eames chairs, Noguchi tables and Bauer pottery may be way beyond your budget, it’s still very possible to achieve this vintage look.

As they say in Hollywood, “Fake it until you make it.” These tips and tricks will help you turn any room in your house into a breezy SoCal haven.

Combine Warm and Cool Colors

This design aesthetic has the ability to feel both cozy and spare at the same time. One way this is achieved is by using a thoughtful combination of warm and cool colors. Pastel or white walls keep the room feeling open and breezy, while mod looking accent pieces in rich, warm colors (think plum, avocado, teal, coral, or goldenrod) prevent it from feeling too austere.

Echo® Design Cozumel Duvet Cover Set

Pictured: Echo® Design Cozumel Duvet Cover Set

Pick Furniture Pieces with Clean Lines

California cool is all about unfussy furniture pieces with clean lines that have a slightly retro vibe to them. That doesn’t mean you need to rummage through your local thrift store for Mid-Century Modern goodies. In fact, as long as you stick to the “rules,” you can get away with mixing a few timeless pieces with furniture that looks distinctly of the era. For instance, we adore the Mid-Century vibe of these chairs:

Safavieh Ashley Grey Side Chairs at Bed Bath & Beyond

Pictured: Safavieh Ashley Grey Side Chair (Set of 2)

And think they still feels California Cool, even when matched with a more contemporary coffee table, like the one below.

zuo modern Pasos Clear Nesting Tables at Bed Bath & BeyondPictured: zuo modern Pasos Clear Nesting Tables (set of 3)

Want to deck your home with a waterfront feel? Check out our Coastal Collection.

Mix Materials and Textures

One big aspect of this design aesthetic is using a mix of materials and textures. Because California Cool tends to eschew using excessive amounts of furniture, picking items in a variety of materials keeps the room from feeling cold and unwelcoming.

When you combine this fabric covered bench:

Pictured: Safavieh Levi Bench

A woven coffee table:

Pictured: Jeffan International Riau Round Coffee Table

And this sleek chrome legged chair:

Pictured: Legare White Bent Plywood Chair

You end up with a nice mix of color, texture and material that feels warm and friendly.

Edit Your Accent Pieces

That shelf of knick-knacks? Nix them! This style of design favors simple, sleek pieces that say a lot, sans the fuss.

Decorate the mantle with mod vases in warm colors:

Pictured: Mikasa® Monochrome Glass Vases

Skip the table lamp with loads of bells and whistles and instead opt for a ceramic piece in a simple, unique shape.

Pacific Coast Lighting The Blue Martini Table Lamp at Bed Bath & BeyondPictured: Pacific Coast Lighting The Blue Martini Table Lamp

Or get into a ’60s mood with a retro looking mirror.

Pictured: Two’s Company® Sunburst™ Antiqued Gold Wall Mirror

How do you California Cool? Let us know in the space below.

Megan Mostyn-Brown




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