The Quintessentially Chill California Casa

The Quintessentially Chill California Casa

The Quintessentially Chill California Casa


Homepolish designer Erin Kane transforms traditional living and family rooms to a cool eclectic style, brightened with recess lighting and neutral wallpaper.

Photos by Pablo Enriquez

We’ll let you in on a little secret–Santa Monica isn’t only ancient piers, sandy beaches, and glittering waves. The lesser talked-about side of this Southern California city can be found tucked away in blonde mountainsides, hiding family homes and ranches alike in its tranquil scenery.

The Santa Monica Canyon is where Allison Arkin’s family of four (as well as their Bernese Mountain Dog and black pug) has lived for over eighteen years. Their sprawling Spanish bungalow has seen the kids grow up and one move away to college—all without an update to the living room. So the family reached out to Homepolish designer Erin Kane.

“The goal was to update the space,” Erin tells us, “to make it brighter and warmer. Also I wanted to create a space which could be used on an everyday basis instead of just for a special occasions, especially since the kids were now in high school and college and it is nice to have more spaces for them to entertain their friends.”

The ceiling was all dark wood and lacked substantial overhead lighting, resulting in stiff sensibility and a dark demeanor. Erin worked with a contractor to add drywall between the ceiling beams and implement recessed lighting. The move was a game changer, now the beams really stand out—and the formerly stuffy space has morphed into an airy spot to entertain.

Besides the recessed lighting, Erin wanted to add statement—shaking up the more traditional space with a sculptural lighting fixture.

It was a more modern piece than anything else in the room,” Erin says. “I think it really brought the room together and was in line with the eclectic feel we had created.”

The crisp backdrop sets the stage for a curated mix between old and new, including some family traditions. Father and husband Daniel and his son have an affinity for battling it out on the chessboard, so Erin designed the living room’s alcove as the perfect spot for competition. “It’s a cozy space where they can hang and play chess, while the client and her daughter enjoy the other sitting area in the living room,” says Erin.

Another touch that is particularly sentimental is the beautiful grand piano–the Chickering piece is nearly a century old and was handed down to Allison from her New York City-based family. After having learned to play on it as a child, she considers it a treasured family heirloom that just happens to fit in perfectly with the space.  

Once the living room was transformed into a welcoming, relaxing oasis, the neighboring living room felt out of sync with the fresh California aesthetic. To create a cohesive feel throughout the home, Allison decided to extend the project and have Erin redesign the family room as well.

This is the family’s prime hang out spot, so comfort and coziness were equally important. Fresh paint, neutral wallpaper lining the bookcases, and updated hardware helped bring the space into the modern age. A smattering of dark blue and vibrant orange textiles make this the ideal laid-back sanctuary for lounging.

My entire experience working with Erin was great.  We initially had her help us with our living room, and we were so happy with the process and the result that we called her again for our family room!  I felt like she instantly understood our style and what we were going for, and I really liked all the options she showed us.  She allowed me to be very involved with the process, which is something I enjoy, but she was also great at helping me make decisions, which can be hard for me when it comes to decorating!  We are very happy with the end result, and we find ourselves spending a lot more time in both rooms now that they finally reflect our style.

View additional photos and sourcing in the gallery below.