After stepping into her Los Angeles home, Liz Strong kicks off her red clogs to reveal one striped sock and one solid, both brightly colored. In that simple act, she shares something about her personality as well as her decorating style. She's a bit of a free spirit who's drawn to pattern and color and who loves mixing not matching. "I like things that feel more evolved, collected," says Liz, a stylist for magazines and catalogs.
On the surface, it might seem like the 1904 Craftsman house she bought six years ago was an odd choice with its dark brown floors, woodwork, and cabinets. It was too formal and serious, Liz says. Still, she liked the idea of a house with history and was confident she could lighten things up. (It was a smart move space-wise now that she shares the 1,600 square feet with Dave Reiné and their twin babies.)
Liz and Dave, shown with Lucia and Laine, have been sprucing up their old home little by little. They decided to live with the existing siding colors and instead paint the brown fence and hang new gates outfitted with knobs from old doors.
A believer in home facelifts on a budget, Liz relied on paint for the big-impact change: coating the not-in-great-shape wood floors in muted green (Teresa's Green 236 from Farrow & Ball). "Once the floors were painted, the house brightened up," she says. Sunday morning shopping sprees to L.A.'s famed Rose Bowl Flea Market helped Liz achieve the unmatched look she loves. Dining chairs are a character-rich mash-up of styles, and vintage paintings let her fill walls on the cheap. Those special finds, Liz says, are key to giving a home comfort and soul. "It's about creating a feel, not a look."
United by similar tones, an assortment of chairs from flea markets, including one standout vintage peacock chair, adds personality. An outdoor lantern-style pendant painted yellow amps up the energy.
Liz left the stained wood in the entry as a nod to the home's Craftsman roots then covered the walls in wallpaper. The brown wood, she says, works better with the bold hydrangea pattern than white trim, which would have been too strong a contrast.
"I like things to look really mixed up and playful," Liz says. "I use patterns at will." She tempered this bold mix with symmetry—matching mirrors, lamps, and chests.
"The cabinets were dark and depressing," Liz says. "Painting them made the kitchen look airy and bright." To make the squat window seem taller, Liz hung the shade close to the ceiling. Design trick: A blackout liner prevents the top of the window trim from showing through.
A built-in hutch proved to be a space-saving alternative to a freestanding bar cart, with plenty of room left for dishes. "I like having a well-stocked bar out in the open," Liz says. "It creates a happy vibe and gives a home a warm, welcoming feel."
"Work with the architecture of your house," Liz says. In her bedroom, that meant painting the walls and ceiling the same color (Vale Mist 1494 from Benjamin Moore) to downplay the angles and placing the bed against a window. "That's typically not my ideal placement, but I like how the curtains frame it," she says.