Easy, Elegant Family Style

Jenna Ushkowitz and David Stanley’s updated Los Angeles home is a haven of cozy simplicity filled with natural inspiration, inviting details, and laid-back attitude.

Written by:Diane Conrad
Photographed by:Christopher Lee
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“I’m not a fan of things that just look pretty, they have to really work,” says designer Jean Liu about her choice of Cambria Swanbridge™ for the kitchen counters.

When actor and singer Jenna Ushkowitz (you probably know her from her role as Tina on Glee) and her husband David Stanley bought their first home together, they had to get it move-in ready in a big hurry—the couple was expecting their first child in just three months. They knew how they wanted the house to feel “cozy and open,” says Ushkowitz, but they had no experience with renovation, so they called on Dallas-based interior designer Jean Liu for help.

Liu dove right into the rush renovation, working closely with Ushkowitz and Stanley to balance their love for simple, restrained style with the inviting feeling they craved.

A careful approach to color was one important ingredient in Liu’s design process.

When the couple shared the inspiration images they’d been collecting, “Every kitchen picture had a fresh, light green color somewhere, either as the main color or as an accent,” Liu says. The designer used the color as a jumping-off point for the new kitchen design, where it creates a fresh, natural look on the cabinets. To keep the overall effect light and bright, she balanced the colorful finish with plenty of white, including Cambria Swanbridge countertops. “We immediately fell in love with the Swanbridge design,” says Ushkowitz. “It has some texture but it’s still subtle and it’s also functional and easy to maintain. That was important since we are in the kitchen a lot.” 

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Wood accents help reinforce the natural look the couple loves, and black accents—the cabinet hardware, plumbing fixtures, and lighting—introduce one of the design “threads” Liu relied on to create a cohesive look throughout the home. That thread appears again in the dining room, both in the light fixture and in the woven wall art hanging over the sideboard. “We actually added more black to that wall hanging with some paint,” says Liu. “When you’re on a tight deadline, sometimes a little DIY is in order!” A dusky shade of the kitchen’s green hue reappears in the dining room chair upholstery and in the rug, and again on the accent pillows in the living room, where it’s one of the few hints of color in a largely neutral space.

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In the living room, the design keeps the emphasis on the charming architecture. Even the mountain forms in the landscape above the fireplace reference the diamond-paned windows.

To keep a room with a very quiet color palette feeling cozy and interesting, Liu brings in layers of texture. In the living room, for example, although the upholstery and area rug are neutral, she combined natural materials—wood, stone, metal, woven rattan—as well as soft, plush textiles. The simple palette and clean lines of the furnishings also lets the architecture shine. “We wanted to keep a lot of the focus on elements like the beautiful lead-glass windows,” she says.

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Layers of luxurious textiles and eye-catching natural textures give the new parents a relaxing, soothing private getaway.

Layering is equally important in the primary bedroom, where there’s also a touch more color and even a hint of pattern. The bed is upholstered in off-white, then dressed with a combination of rich gray and warm earth tones for a luxurious but unfussy effect. Window shades and bedside tables with a woven texture add some natural appeal, and cozy chairs reinforce the sense of comfort and ease. Now that the renovation is finished and the family of three has had some time to settle into their new home, what’s their favorite feature? “It’s the attention to detail,” says Uskhowitz. “The colors, every knob, swirl, and material that made our home the place we had always dreamed of to grow our family in. I never thought I’d be someone who gets so many compliments on the design and look of their home from visitors, but here we are!”

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