Homepolish designer Kelly Martin strikes a balance with this family home, where vibrant colors and blue wallpaper meets practical, natural wood furniture.
Photos by Meghan Beierle O'brien
Los Angeles might be a city filled with dreamers, but it’s not all that often that you come across people who are truly living the dream. Studio City-based couple Wendy and Brad Kuhlman and their two children (as well as their cat and dog) wanted to make a home that amplified their already chill, close bond. In came Homepolish designer Kelly Martin, who knew just how to work with the happy, friendly family.
“When we first met, their laid-back and easy-to work-with personalities resonated with me,” says Kelly. “They were so communicative and had great style to begin with so it was a really fun project to work on.”
The family has had their sprawling, open, Cape Cod-style home since 2015, but their dominantly Mid-Century Modern decor wasn’t fitting in with warm, relaxed feeling of the space. “They wanted to find a way to blend the two styles but still keep it appropriate for the architectural style of their new home,” recounts Kelly. “So they found Homepolish and we made it happen.”
When it came to refurnishing the living and dining rooms, kitchen, and entryway, Kelly had to balance Wendy and Brad’s priorities—and two different aesthetics.
“Wendy has really high-end and sophisticated taste, but Brad wanted more practical pieces so I had to find a way to marry the two things. They were really great at determining what items were worth splurging on and where they could cut back on spending,” Kelly tells us.
Combining styles can be a challenge, but Kelly embraced the task with open arms. In an effort to keep things balanced, she played around with various materials that would speak to naturalistic, transitional, and modern looks. “I love the mix of vibrant colors that are offset by the natural woods and metals of the space. It’s a calm and comfy space, but the pops of colors bring a new life to that ‘naturalistic eclectic’ style,” Kelly raves.
Even when it came to wood, Kelly made an effort to create visual depth. “The floors of the home are a pretty light natural oak and I wanted to create contrast against that with a slightly deeper wood tone in the furniture pieces. We have multiple types of wood represented, like walnut, Douglas-fir, indian rosewood, and oak. I used to design furniture, so I am a bit of a wood-junkie and enjoy the many different textures of wood,” Kelly confesses.
One aspect of the redesign Kelly wasn’t expecting was sourcing new art. On an unrelated trip to New York City, she found herself at the Uprise Art loft with founder Tze Chun (you can read our chat with her here). “The minute I saw certain pieces at the Uprise Loft, I knew they were perfect,” Kelly tells us. “I sent images over to the clients and they were just as thrilled as I was. It was one of those wonderful moments where we were all on the exact same wavelength.”
The Katrine Hildebrandt-Hussey piece adds a layer of depth and complexity atop the inky, mesmerizing, peacock-blue wallpaper, thanks to its soldered and burnt geometric shapes.
“The wallpaper and the chandelier in the dining room were super glamorous and modern, so we wanted to keep that, but tone it down a touch,” says Kelly. “I used the industrial, masculine dining table and chairs and the large-scale artwork to do this. It calms the space down but still allows it to feel glamorous since, after all, it is their formal dining room.”
Finishing touches included personal details like a statue of a Boston Terrier, which nods to their much-beloved, recently departed dog. The vintage typewriter is a personal keepsake that Kelly loved and made sure to include.
“I like to create spaces that are comfortable, practical, and livable that have bold but natural elements to them,” Kelly says. “I have trouble sticking to one style and that’s what brings out the eclectic nature in what I create.”
View additional photos and sourcing in the gallery below.