A breezy yard was the draw for this first owner
Meredith Chin only had 20 minutes to tour her Spanish-style home in Venice, Calif., before deciding to make an offer, but that was long enough for the writer-producer-director to imagine her life there. . “There was no chatter in my brain,” Chin recalled. “There was something about the energy. I felt like I could dedicate myself to going home. When she first stepped out into the central courtyard, she considered turning the space into an outdoor movie theater where she could make her debut work. “Last month, I did a screening of my short film under the stars,” Chin shares. “I felt really lucky to be able to have this in my personal space.”
Chin considers the three-bedroom, two-bathroom property his “first solo art project”; buying the place not only marked his transition from longtime tenant to landlord, it coincided with a major career change. After a decade working in tech and bouncing between startups, Chin transitioned into the film industry. His feature documentary, Duty freepremiering on PBS Independent lens last fall as she finished her first short film, the girl. Since moving into this space in 2020, Chin reveals that she’s been able to focus her efforts on writing things down. “It’s definitely been a creative haven for me,” she shares. And not all the hard work was done in his office: the house was in dire need of a renovation, which required the help of interior designer Mat Sanders.
“It was a doozy,” Sanders recalls of the home’s very dark hardwood floors, which he quickly replaced with wide-plank oak. But just like Chin, he was immediately drawn to the fabulous outdoor space at the heart of the house (French doors provide access to the outdoor space from different parts of the house). “It has one of my favorite floor plans,” he says.
Chin had decided she wanted a black kitchen even before she brought Sanders onto the scene. Her question was how to get out of this without making the room feel like a dungeon. After covering the old teal cabinets in a deep charcoal hue, Sanders introduced brass accents with new Park Studio cabinet hardware and a mixed metal sink faucet to “upgrade” it. The designer also replaced the old “Cheesecake Factory-esque” pendant lights on the island with a modern globe chandelier from TRNK NYC and covered the backsplash with 2-by-2 black zellige tiles from Clé.
“Once these things came in, I was like, this doesn’t sound gloomy; it feels classy,” Chin says. Around the corner from the dining room, Sanders transformed one of the shelving niches into a bar with a custom fluted walnut cabinet and glass shelves with a built-in sconce. He loaded the entertainment area with vintage bar wares, some of which came from his extensive trips to estate sales and antique markets in Tucson, Arizona, where he retreated during the height of the pandemic. “I was just loading up my jeep and hauling stuff, and a lot of it went to this project,” he says.
Floating the sofa in the middle of the living room gave way to a small entry vestibule, with a console table, bench and coat hooks – that way when guests walk through the front door “you don’t have the like walking straight into a room,” says the designer. Visitors are immediately greeted by the sight of an unusual gallery wall: there were very few nails involved in making this 3-D version. Instead of that, by building nooks with ledges, Sanders has given Chin places to lean on various objects and artwork made by her friends (all but one of the pieces are by female artists).” I didn’t want to buy art from random strangers,” Chin attests. The non-permanent solution lets him play the role of curator, and it also helps hide the fact that there’s a Samsung Frame TV mounted to environment.
Chin went against her contractor’s advice to get rid of the tub in her tiny master bathroom, and she and Sanders made small changes to the soaking spot. A cool tub, Roman shades and an Allied Maker pendant light make the room dignified. “It’s wonderful to have the windows right next to it,” says Chin. On occasions when she opts for a bath, she can admire the burgeoning kumquats.
“One solution I like for small bathrooms is to use the same material on the wall and the floor,” Sanders explains as he wraps the perimeter of the room with the same marble tile on the floor. The large green zellige tile in the shower was the splurge of the space, but Chin has no regrets. “I said to myself: if I really want to invest in the house of my dreams, I have to make it exactly what I want it to be,” she says. “Whenever I’m in there, I just analyze the tile.”
In the master bedroom, Sanders designed a bespoke upholstered headboard where leather cushions hang from brass tubes attached to the paneling. The vaulted ceiling required a moody perforated light fixture which, when lit, creates the illusion of sleeping under the stars. Of course, if ever Chin really wants to sleep under the stars, she can just head to her dreamy private backyard and watch the real show.