Designer Carolyn Miller creates forever home for couple after 30 years

“It was what I call a Frank Lloyd Wrong“says the designer Caroline Miller of his latest project, a 1930s Pacific Palisades farmhouse that had fallen victim to a series of poor renovations in the 30 years since its owners had moved in. Once quaint and charming, the house had turned into a fragmented maze as the owners attempted to personalize it. . “A lot of the house felt disjointed,” says Miller. “The ceilings had different elevations and the stairwell was this awkward space that cut the house in half,” she recalls. “Everything had its own idea.”

The clients, who are longtime friends of Miller, were about to sell the house and start over. “They were hesitant to add good work to bad work,” says Miller. But after some sweet convictions, the couple finally agreed to one last renovation. “They wanted to put the house in the best shape possible. And they trusted me to do that.”

Getting it right meant adopting the house’s original craftsmanship and stripping away remnants of past renovations to achieve the practical yet elegant aesthetic that clients had been looking for from the start. “We always wanted to keep the charm,” says Miller. “But there were several areas that just didn’t communicate with each other. So opening it all up and making it useful was their main goal.

To do this, Miller sought symmetry between preservation and renovation. “The goal was to retain some of the farmhouse and cottage feel with authentic, natural finishes while providing the client with modern conveniences, an expanded footprint, and a more sophisticated, fashion-forward palette,” says the designate.

Structural changes, like re-leveling the ceilings and redesigning the kitchen layout, provide the kind of seamless flow that the original floor plan lacked, while the addition of original materials to the home recalls its story. To balance old and new, industrial materials – like steel doors and beams – are juxtaposed against a bountiful collection of art and antiques. “We did some really special touches. But I don’t consider them fancy. I consider them going back to the original craftsmanship,” Miller says.

Visit the house below.

Dining room

Courtesy of Carolyn Miller Design

modern dining room

Sam Frost Photography

“The dining room really is the lifeblood of the home,” says Miller. Located next to an outdoor meeting place, the space room serves as the de facto main entrance. “He has the most access indoors and out,” says Miller. “And, you know, that’s where the dog door is,” she laughs. “It was also one of the main areas where we cleaned everything up,” Miller says, referring to the ceilings. “We wanted everything to be at one height.”

The focal point of the piece is an oversized painting by Swedish artist Andreas Erickson. “I used this painting as a foundational piece for this space,” says Miller. “I played with the colors, so there are little touches of red and green. And all the warm paint tones are reflected in the oak furniture.”

Dinner table : Personalized. Dining chairs: Harbor. Lamp: Muselli.



Sam Frost Photography

“The whole point of this space was to have a sort of palette cleanser when you walk into the house,” says Miller. The understated background serves as the perfect canvas for the clients’ art collection, which “always felt like such a hodgepodge” compared to the old scheme.

Coat : Francois & Co. Art: Rebecca Ward, McKenzie Dove. Cocktail tables: Lawson Fenning. Low table: Angelo Ostuni. Lamp: Vintage, Arthur Umanoff. Sconces: Allied Creator.



Sam Frost Photography


Courtesy of Carolyn Miller Design

Most of the structural work is found in the kitchen, which required a higher ceiling and a new layout. “It took the longest,” Miller says of the process, which included leveling the backyard and installing new structural beams that support the new kitchen as well as the rest of the house.

“The goal was to reorient the kitchen to be as open and connected with the dining room as possible,” says Miller. Several windows have been removed to accommodate an appliance wall behind a larger, outward-facing island that houses the sink. “We reoriented the sink to be in the island so that it was perfectly aligned with the opening to the dining room,” explains the designer. “Before, the faucet was where the oven is now, so she was just looking at a wall,” Miller says.

With the kitchen more open, it was important to Miller that the clutter was tidied up. “I wanted it to be really easy for them,” she says of her decision to add a hidden appliance garage. “Yes, they like it elegant. But in their day-to-day life, they don’t want anything complicated.”

Vary: Fisher Pykel. Dishwasher: Honey. Light fixtures: The first electric ones. Equipment: Rocky Mountain Hardware. Saddles: Ethnic handicrafts. Masterpieces: Jonas Wood, Grace Weaver.


interior of the den

Sam Frost Photography

“It was another hodgepodge room where there wasn’t really a real hallway,” says Miller. To create a distinction between the front door and the adjacent den, she installed an interior steel window to visually separate either space. “Looks like it was always meant to be like this,” says the designer.

master bedroom

bedroom interior

Sam Frost Photography

“The main thing we did was redo the ceilings,” says Miller. “It was a dark, over-stained pine, so we basically whitewashed it and then whitewashed it with custom glazing to give it that nice warm tone.” The designer removed the carpeting and replaced it with red oak flooring to match the rest of the house (and recall a look that matched the house’s original era). “I wanted to unify the house with a single floor”, emphasizes the designer.

Blanket: Armadillo. Bed: Maiden’s house. Sconces: RBW. Mural: Benjamin Moore, Decorator’s White. Trim paint: Portola, Peter.



Sam Frost Photography


Courtesy of Carolyn Miller Design

“We always wanted to keep the farmhouse look,” says Miller, who replaced the more kitschy red upholstery with a white panel and slat for a more refreshed look. “Even though the Sonoma farmhouse look is so ubiquitous now, it was actually appropriate for this house. We weren’t forcing it, you know, it was still a barn.”

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