Magazine article Sunset

Escape from L.A

Magazine article Sunset

Escape from L.A

Article excerpt

You'd never guess that Sarah Sherman Samuel's reaction to the Palm Springs-area A-frame she now owns was horror. Horror directed at, of all things, the bathroom. "It was a windowless black hole made even darker with black tile, black-and-gold foil wallpaper, a black toilet, and exposed stone that made it seem like you were walking into a cave. And the lights weren't working," recalls the designer and blogger. "I literally felt scared to walk in."

The rest of the 1,100-square-foot house was no great beauty either. Tinted film on the lofty triangular windows conspired to hide the Sonoran Desert views, and the whole place was very, very brown, from the walls to the carpet to the painted wooden beams. Still, Sarah and her husband, Rupert, an advertising production executive, fell head over heels for the home's iconic architectural style. And they saw promise in one ingenious little trait: skylights along the very tip of the 'A.' "Natural light is one of the main things I look for in a home," says Sarah. "I knew that if we brightened the place up with white paint, the light coming in from all the windows would bring it to life." This was the only property the Venice Beach-based couple saw while house hunting in their favorite vacation town-and a major fixer-upper to boot-but they snapped it up.

A year and a half later, they've transformed it into a Scandiminimalism-meets-desert-modem retreat for themselves and their growing family-Archer, 2, and a second child on the way. But getting from first look to the final stage took some serious doing. Although neither of the Samuels are renovation newbies-Sarah regularly reimagines spaces for her clients, and Rupert had picked up a contractor's skill set during the couple's previous renovation projects-both declared this their biggest challenge yet. Luckily, they enjoy it. "We have a really good time doing this and learning as we go," says Rupert. "It definitely bonds us."

That gung-ho attitude was tested almost immediately when they began construction in early 2016. First to go? The ragged brown carpet. To replace it, Sarah chose a light-colored, inexpensive fauxwood porcelain tile. But due to a contractor miscommunication, the tile was installed with dark gray grout instead of white- everywhere. "I cried when I saw it," Sarah remembers. "It was already cheap tile, and the grout accent made it look extra cheap and just awful." The Samuels decided to replace all the grout-and their contractor. They also replaced a leaky roof that flooded their entire living room, and at one point, they discovered some squatters on the property that they had to kick out. …

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