Name: Hannah Chen and her bunny Salvador Dali
Location: La Cañada, California
Size: Just under 1000 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years — owned
This darling home resides on a lovely tree-lined street in La Cañada, California and is filled with crisp-clean lines, gorgeous wood furnishings and bright pops of yellow, green and red all around. Hannah originally purchased this house in the 90's purely as an investment and had been renting it out until three years ago when she finally decided she was finished cramming her things into a small apartment and moved into it herself.
Upon moving in she really began transforming this house into her home. She started the renovations by painting the exterior, installing all new windows, updating the kitchen and bathroom, and putting in central AC and heating. Hannah is also a great furniture hunter with incredible patience and has made some outstanding scores through ebay and craigslist. One of her most impressive finds is the sink/cabinet in her bathroom found on Ebay from a spa that closed down.
Hannah is an art director by day and is able to bring her love and knowledge of design and handy skills home, which comes out in everything she tackles. She has refinished many of her wood pieces including the coffee table and bedroom dressers.
Hannah has lots of ideas for the future of her home including a gazebo in the backyard, a second floor and big kitchen renovation. I love watching the evolution of Hannah's house that started out as an investment and is slowly but surely becoming the home of her dreams.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Clean lines with a few girly curves
Inspiration: Necessity (and budget) is the mother of reinvention
Favorite Element: Natural light
Biggest Challenge: Not buying any more furniture
What Friends Say: Can I come live with you?
Biggest Embarrassment: My walls are all white. I wish I could commit to color, maybe one day.
Proudest DIY: I love refinishing furniture, so I'm really proud of my coffee table. It was purchased from Barker Brothers by my parents in the 70's and was this weird burnt orange color. When I stripped it, it was beautiful wood underneath and I stained it a rich dark color. There are still scribbles under the table that I did when I was a kid.
Best advice: Buy/splurge on one piece of furniture that you really love, and work around that. If you get stuff you love, most likely, it will all come together in a way that is true to you.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
• Dunn Edwards, Navajo White
• The sofa, which I love, was purchased from St. Vincent de Paul thrift store. It was $80 and upholstered in a dusty rose fabric, but I loved the shape, so I bought it not knowing how incredibly expensive it is to reupholster furniture, but it was worth it. I had it gutted and reupholstered (Rincon's in Pasadena), in outdoor Sunbrella fabric. I can't remember the name of the color, but it was from their Tommy Bahama collection.
• The coffee table is from the 70's. It was in my parent's garage when I pulled it out and refinished it. In true 70's design, it is multifunctional and the legs fold up the convert it to a dining table. I love the clean lines.
• The lamps were found in my parent' s attic, I don't know where/when they are from, but I think they're antiques.
• The armoire, side tables and Eames replica chair are Craigslist finds.
• The piano was inherited from a coworker.
• The rocking chair was left by an old roommate and the hoop chairs are salvaged freebies that my dad put the wood backs and seats on. They're all disconnected pieces that work well together, that's the fun of just getting what you love.
• George Nelson bubble lamp from Modernica.
• Dining table was another Craigslist find, and will be my next refinishing project. I feed people all the time so I wanted a big table, this one can seat 8-10 comfortably, but my space is small. So rather than using regular chairs, I found these great little stools on sale at Crate and Barrel, they're a stylish (and comfortable) space saver. Plus, they're easy to take outdoors or other parts of the house if people want to move around.
• The framed photos were taken on my toy Holga from my travels to Haiti and Cuba. The frames are from Ikea.
• I had the kitchen completely gutted before I moved in. My amazing dad made the cabinets for me. I wanted something really simple, with very clean lines, and that was surprisingly hard to find. He only called me a pain in the rear once during the whole project, that's how patient he is.
• The counter is Chinese jade.
• The appliances were another Craigslist find.
• The baskets around my house are all from the fair trade shop Ten Thousand Villages.
• My spice rack is another DIY. I love this Italian yogurt called La Natura, and they come in these cute little jars. So I ordered corks online and filled them with spices. They are organized alphabetically, and I also have little round labels on the bottom so I know what's in the jar. I love all the colors of the spices so it's a nice way to label them without obscuring the contents.
• I love white cotton sheets, so my bed is just plain white. It's simple, and so comfy.
• The dresser was another 70's Barker Brothers piece from my parents that I refinished. Originally it had this funky gold speckling on it, but after stripping it down, turned out it was beautiful oak underneath. I can't find a dresser this size and with these simple lines anywhere. In fact, my sister had my dad make her one just like it.
• The umbrellas are from Goodwill.
• The papercut chandelier piece was made by my friend & artist Hannah Koh.
• The posters above the bed are screen printed Cuban movie posters.
• The LOL coat hooks that I use to hang my necklaces on are from Anthropologie, as is the cake dish that holds my bracelets and earrings--of course if I ever need another cake or dessert dish, the jewelry is put aside and the dish brought out.
• The platter underneath is a pizza platter from Crate and Barrel. I like using things for various purposes, especially when they're big or awkward serving dishes.
• The bedside dresser was another leftover from my old roommate. It was painted solid brown, but again, when I stripped it, it was beautiful wood underneath. I had trouble finding new handles in the same size, so rather than drill new holes, I just spray painted the original handles bright red. I love how it came out.
• The critters on the table were made by my cousin Debbie, and the lamp was made by a dear friend in Ireland.
• The other little cabinet is an antique radio that I haven't gotten around to refinishing, but I'll gut the radio and put shelves in it so it can be a functional storage piece as well.
• One of my happiest finds when I was renovating was the cabinet. Again, I wanted something simple, a certain size, and a certain color, and I didn't want to pay an arm and a leg for it. I felt like I won the lottery when I found it for a mere $175 on Craigslist.
• The Holga pics in the bathroom are dreary and dreamy shots from Ireland, and the screenprint is from Apartment Therapy's very own Alysha Findley.
• The soap and lotion dispensers are from Anthropologie and I use old masons jars for my cotton balls and q-tips. They are big enough to hold an entire bag of cotton balls and an entire box of q-tips, so I don't need to store extras anywhere else. Since all my walls are white, I use splashes of color throughout, so the yellow flowers in the bud vase make for a happy focal point, even in the bathroom.
Images: Grace Chen Robinson
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