Renovating to Rustic: A Venice Townhouse’s Modern Makeover

Renovating to Rustic: A Venice Townhouse’s Modern Makeover

Renovating to Rustic: A Venice Townhouse’s Modern Makeover


Homepolish designer Mandy Cheng helped this Los Angeles abode go from '90s castoff to comfortable, chic, and invitingly industrial with a full-renovation. Here's how.

Photos by Madeline Tolle

Plenty of houses are born with patina. The character of crumbling walls, oft-forgotten architectural finishes, and hints of years of good taste.

And then there are times where the pendulum has swung too far the other way. When a home has been overhauled into a basic (and boring) white box. Thankfully our designers know just what to do.

For these clients, a redesign was about creating a first-time how that fit their style.

“The townhouse suffered from typical early ‘90s finishes, awkward layouts, and mismatched, dark colors,” Homepolish designer Mandy Cheng explains. “After a few discussions and a walk-through of the house, they agreed that gutting the space and starting with a clean slate was the best approach.”

The clean slate of a full renovation let Mandy and co lean into the couple’s preferred style: city loft with rustic and industrial finishes. Mandy partner with a Homepolish-vetted contractor Armin M. to impart some personality.

“These clients are really drawn to reclaimed wood, industrial elements, and a space that feels comfortable, inviting and ready for a beach day or a dinner party at any given moment,” Mandy explains. “So I worked with Armin M. to add architectural elements to the otherwise ‘standard townhome’ layout. We built out brick walls, added wood beams, installed wide-plank hardwood floors and rebuilt the kitchen and bathrooms using more contemporary finishes that aligned with their taste. I then brought in furniture and decor that added color and warmth so it’d be the perfect mix.”

The rustic-gets-refined mix is all the rage, but requires a deft hand to truly excel. A poor execution can feel forced and faux, but the right choices create a space that feels perfectly inviting, cool and clever, and most of all completely effortless. We’re partial to holding up this kitchen as the shining example of pulling the change off.

“The original kitchen was turned 90 degrees with only one way in and out. It was outdated, cramped, and not really the gathering space that the clients wanted,” Mandy explains. “They almost didn’t renovate it, but I’m so glad they did and I’m sure they are too! I rotated the layout which opened up the flow and now it’s the heart of the house.”

The cabinets set the warm tone, while classic subway tile and clean Carrera quartz countertops balance the darker finishes. Mandy amped up the industrial vibes with dark grout and chic schoolhouse-inspired pendants tie brick wall’s industrial vibes. Oh and that brick wall isn’t original.

“The brick walls were a first for me, and I love how they turned out,” Mandy explains. “The installer used rope to space out the bricks, and watching that process was really cool. If you look closely, there are still some rope fibers that got left behind, and it adds to the rustic, industrial nature.”

While that bit of additional patina wasn’t intentional, every other part of the kitchen reno was—and it shows.

“I really spent a lot of time thinking through the finish of each element individually and then collectively to make sure it all felt cohesive and touched on all the aspects that the clients love,” Mandy explains. “The first time the client saw the new kitchen island, she walked over and hugged it. The new kitchen gave them all the storage they needed, better flow to the room as a whole, and the space for all the elements they wanted, including a dedicated coffee area.”

Another wake-up-worthy spot in the house is the guest bedroom. Previously cursed with multi-colored tile floors, an awkward furniture layout, and an awkward structural column, Mandy rehabbed it into a guest-friendly space, with strategic furniture pieces that help visitors get cozy quicker.

“For the most part, guests tend to stay away from using closets and prefer to keep things in plain sight to avoid leaving items behind,” Mandy explains. “Having those pieces of furniture available for guests to use keeps the room organized. The hanging nightstands add to the overall boho vibe and keep everything in plain sight.”

Most homeowners don’t get to enjoy their guest rooms, but Mandy’s clients got to see just how chic the space was first-hand.

“This was one of my favorite parts of the project because it was the first space to be completed,” Mandy explains. “The rest of the house was still under construction, but the clients needed to stay at the house for several days. They asked if they could borrow a blow up mattress and get the water turned on in the bathroom. I surprised them with a fully decked out room and the shock and delight on their faces gave me all the feels. It was the first space that they were able to walk into and feel how different the entire house was about to be. I love a good sneak preview.”

The work continued in the bathrooms. The three full bathrooms were all renovated, but Mandy worked to preserve some current finishes in the partial changes—selecting finishes that worked with existing shower tiles. In one bathroom, bespoke brick textures were added with the wall jogged out to ensure it looked like the space simply cropped up around it. The hallway bathroom tile offers a glimpse of pattern and whimsy whenever you walk by.

Wall Sconce:  Nino Shea Design

Floor tile: 
 Cle Tile 

Round mirror:  Umbra 

Towels: Parachute Home

Mandy put just as many thoughtful touches into the space’s outdoor space. She overhauled a previously neglected outdoor space into the perfect place to unwind into the evening.

“The rooftop started out as the most industrial-looking, sad, and uninviting space. The floors were painted with a grey, waterproof membrane, and all you focused on were the neighbors and the AC handler,” Mandy shares. “I installed wood deck tiles across the entire roof with river rocks around the perimeter and that warmed up the space immediately. We then built a canopy for the main seating area, added furniture, string lights and plants, and it’s now a space they use almost as much as they do the living room. And with the fire pit, they can stay out there into the evening.”

You can invite us over whenever.

Want a makeover that makes you want to hug your kitchen? Sign up for Homepolish today to find the perfect designer and renovation professionals for you. You can also read more about this space on MyDomaine.