The Colors in This LA Family Home Are Unbelievably Soothing

Bring on the pastels, people.

On the day of this photo shoot, there were a pair of pants at the bottom of the pool. No one knew who the pants belonged to, but Jackie Smith, a real estate mega-agent and the matriarch of the house, has a lead on which kid launched them there. “This is truly the house where everybody comes,” says her husband, Dennis, a designer and builder. “On a Friday night, there will be about 13 kids of all different ages over here.” Plus three dogs, two cats, and a male hamster named Susan.

“This is not your average Colonial. We call it the non-trad traditional.”

Driving up to the home—a stately 1940 Monterey Colonial with hedges, fountains, columns, white paint, and black shutters—you might get a different impression. But the inside is warm and whimsical, the kind of place you don’t want to leave. Pastel walls are paired with contemporary accents: Low-slung, flaxen sofas beckon from the blush family room. Twice a month, they pull off the slipcovers and toss them in the wash. “I try to enforce a ‘no orange-​dusted food’ rule, but the kids get it through,” Dennis says: Cheetos, Jackie explains. Candy wrappers behind the cushions.

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Kristi Bender, who co-owns the Los Angeles design firm Cuffhome with her business partner, Wendy Schwartz, has been friends with the Smiths for decades. So when the family decided to renovate their home of 14 years—ditching the dark-wood paneling, knocking down walls to open up spaces, and making the front rooms into places they’d actually want to hang out in (rather than don’t-touch-anything environs)—she got the picture instantly.

Jackie kept seeing flourishes she loved in all the properties she was selling and was tempted to introduce notes of each style in her own home. These enthusiasms, unbridled, could have led to a Victorian-ranch-farmhouse- glass-cube grab bag. But Bender intervened.

She introduced unexpected shapes and bold colors throughout, from Cuffhome’s unique rope-wrapped globe lamp in the dining room to the striking centerpiece of the home, an all-pink family room. At first, Dennis “absolutely hated it—until the painters put it up.” Cast in Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster, the walls change with the light, pearly in some places, warm salmon in others, and light brown in the shadows. “I was so gunning for this,” Jackie says, grinning.

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Joe Schmelzer

Some rooms found a new purpose. “When we first designed the home, we thought the living room was supposed to be very formal, very East Coast,” Jackie says. “But none of us ever went into it. We started to think, If we don’t live like this, what’s the point?” Bender reimagined the space as a music room, highlighting the family’s many instruments and mounting a few beloved vinyl record covers. “I can’t get enough of this room,” Jackie says. “If the doors are closed for some reason, like the kids are doing their guitar lessons in there, I’m super-bummed when I walk in the door and I can’t see it all.”

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