Marisa and Peter's Playfully Eclectic Home

House Tour

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Name: Marisa Vitale and Peter James
Location: Venice Beach, California
Size: 1250 square feet
Years lived in: 3 Years; Owned

Marisa and Peter are a couple of world travelers with a serious case of wanderlust. Beloved souvenirs abound throughout their sunny, airy, one-story, Venice Beach home. Their home’s newest decor, however, speaks not to globetrotting, but to an entirely different sort of adventure, -that of first-time parenthood...times two! Marisa and Peter welcomed their twin babies Macy and Oliver into the world one year ago and it has turned their lives and home upside down in the most wonderful way.

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Both trained urban planners, Marisa and Peter met as teenagers, and later studied together at a university in London. Armed with a can-do attitude, the couple has traversed the globe hand-in-hand many times over the years. Now as parents, their DIY aesthetic helps them face new challenges on the domestic front, such as baby proofing and making space in their home for the children.

In addition to his position as Urban Planner for the City of Santa Monica, Peter is also a part-time contractor and builder. In the three years that they have owned the house, he’s done an impressive amount of work on it himself including carpentry (the front fence, gate, awning, and decks), painting the entire house, installing a drip system, laying sod, planting trees, and the list goes on.

Marisa has pursued another passion of hers and owns her own photography business, Love Light Images. She photographs weddings, families, portraits, and events where there is lots of laughter and love.  Marisa loves her job as she gets to witness and capture people’s happiest moments.

At home, the couple likes to spend as much time as possible outside with their children, so their current project consists of putting together their outdoor rooms in their front and back yards for summer enjoyment. As a family, they enjoy early morning alley scavenging with hopes of scoring discarded furniture to fix up and add to their home. Living just a few short blocks from the ocean, the family often takes sunset walks on the beach, bikes through the neighborhood, explores new places, and most importantly, make each other laugh every day.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Global, found/reclaimed and repurposed, warm, quirky, anything with a story behind it

Inspiration: Little corners from all over the world

Favorite Element: The classic Spanish Colonial Revival style curved archways and the high ceiling in the living room

Biggest Challenge: The dining room is simply a pass through between the living room and the kitchen, it’s hard to make it it’s own space rather than simply being a runway.

What Friends Say: When they walk in, friends say that our home feels so comfortable and “lived in”. They don’t know how we got all these little knickknacks and frankly, we don’t really either, they just accumulate. Peter is a serious alley scanner so we always find ways to turn other people’s trash into treasures.

Biggest Embarrassment: The backyard. When we first moved in we had a vision of turning our weird outdoor wood storage area into a kitchen and making an outdoor dining paradise.  We created a bar, built a great deck from reclaimed wood, got a great old fireplace from a salvage yard and painted it red….and then just stopped hanging out there. Now the deck is half torn apart and it’s a sad forgotten mess back there. 

Proudest DIY: The front of the house and front yard. We used to have an old granny aluminum awning on the front porch. Peter and his dad tore it down and built the beautiful wood pergola together in a weekend. There is a 24ft. beam of solid wood holding it all together. He and his Dad also built the front fence and the wood gate into our driveway.  We have a raised vegetable garden Peter built himself and we have outfitted the yard with tons of plants and four new trees. My favorite element is the grape vines planted at the front fence. From spring to the end of fall, we have a green wall for privacy, - it’s awesome! Peter just put in a window now that the vines are dormant so when they come into bloom again we’ll be able to have just a peek at who’s walking by.  Our house used to be the bleakest yard on the block and the only one with no trees. We now have a plant paradise, five growing trees, and a play yard heaven for the kids.

Biggest Indulgence: Remodeling our entire kitchen. We brought it down to the studs and broke down a wall to create a new archway to match the style of the house. The kitchen was a late 80’s remodel with tons of linoleum and oak. It didn’t match the rest of the house at all. It was dysfunctional and completely detached from the dining room with just a small doorway. We opened it all up and created a Spanish style kitchen with modern elements. I love that we can now sit in the living room and see all the way out the double French doors into the side yard. It’s created so much more light and space.

Best Advice: Create what feels good to you. After all, you’re the one living in it! Don’t be afraid to take risks, it can always be redone. Ones man’s trash is another man’s treasure!

Dream Sources: Our travels, salvage yards, alleyways, West Elm clearance sales, Crate and Barrel Outlet

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Resources of Note:

LIVING ROOM
• Couch – custom made, ordered through someone’s garage!
• Rug on floor – Overstock
• Rug on wall – West Elm
• Poofs – Turkey
• Lamps – White: Anthropologie, birds: Ross, Metal: An alley find
• Pillows – West Elm, Cost Plus
• Red TV stand – Crate and Barrel
• Aluminum decorations on fireplace – Mexico
• Don Quixote poster – Bought on the street in San Francisco
• Ottoman – West Elm clearance (Reduced from $500, it had no legs, so we bargained the store manager down to $50 and found new legs to put on it
• Blue curtains – Anthropologie
• Original Vietnam Propaganda poster – Vietnam
• Mobile on ceiling – eBay (Calder inspired)

DINING ROOM
• Table and chairs – Peter’s grandmother’s. We recovered the chair seats with coffee bags bought at Groundworks coffee here in Venice for $.75 each.
• Sideboard – Crate and Barrel – One of the very few things we actually paid full price for.  It was just perfect.
• Mirrors – We bought the large square one at a flea market, others were found in the alley.
• Curtains – Cost Plus
• Rug – West Elm
• Credenza – Great-grandfather’s
• Vietnam Propaganda Poster – Vietnam
• Paintings of Peter’s chicken “Elron” and his parents chicken “Maurice' painted by a neighbor
• Glass Moroccan style candleholders – Bed, Bath and Beyond of all places!
• Buddha poster – Laos
• Ballet poster – Mother-in-law’s
• High chairs – Stokke

KITCHEN
• Shelves – Pottery Barn
• Kitchen cart – Garage sale
• Countertop – Caesarstone
• Animal heads - Anthropologie

BEDROOM
• Peter’s dresser – Grandmother’s
• Marisa’s dresser – Wertz Brother’s Furniture
• Marisa’s smaller dresser – Cost Plus
• Mirror – Crate and Barrel Outlet
• Headboard – Bamboo shipping crate found in flooring store’s trash in El Segundo
• Bench – West Elm

BATHROOM
• Vanity and lights – Original built-in
• Chandelier – Store closing sale in Santa Monica
• Animal planters – Tucson, Arizona

NURSERY
• Rug – West Elm
• Cribs - Babyletto
• Art on walls – Various places: from Etsy, to craft fairs in Portland and Los Angeles
• Elephant light - Laos
• Light shade – A Frankenstein project built from a lampshade from Anthropologie, a ceiling star from Tucson, and lamp parts from Home Depot
• Mobile hanging from ceiling light – Laos
• Wallpaper – Hygge and West
• Love decal - Blik 
• Dresser - Ikea
• Crib sheets – Carousel designs
• Blankets – Rickshaw designs
• Bookcase – Ikea
• Bookshelves – Ikea spice racks painted green

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Thanks, Marissa & Peter!

(Images: Bridget Pizzo)

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Bridget is a photographer and writer with an insatiable need to travel and eat questionable foods on her adventures. She loves comedy, beaches, sunshine, flea markets as big as the eye can see, and her charmer of a dog, Boss Hogg.

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