In the secluded enclave of Mar Vista, the fast-cooling late-afternoon air is filled with the heady scent of lemon verbena and eucalyptus, as scatterings of periwinkle petals from overgrown hedges of jacaranda and frothy canary-colored clusters of fallen mimosa blanket the sidewalks of narrow streets dotted with Craftsman cottages, modern bungalows, and Spanish Colonials. Offering vistas overlooking the ocean, the Los Angeles neighborhood enthralled Ariel Kaye, the founder of the popular home furnishings brand Parachute, who had spent the past seven years renting in nearby Venice. It felt like an idyllic setting in which to raise her two young children. Though she expected her house hunt to be endless, she ended up seeing just one property (and three days later, in February 2021, her offer was accepted).
Sited close to her parents and the beach, the newly built house checked many boxes, but the open-plan interiors felt sterile and cold. Still, Kaye possesses imagination and vision—not surprisingly, given that she’s built her home decor empire with its distinct design-driven aesthetic from the ground up.
Tackling the project herself felt too daunting, especially with her then two-year-old daughter, Lou, and newborn son, Van. “I needed to leave my safe beige world behind and get funky by bringing on an expert who’d push me out of my comfort zone,” she says. So she reached out to Sally Breer, whom she first met in 2014, when Breer was designing the Hotel Covell on the edge of Los Feliz and called to ask if the just launched Parachute could supply its bedding. “I knew Sally’s eye for vintage and custom pieces, as well as her off-kilter approach, would inject that edge and patina I so desperately craved.”
Breer admits she was hesitant at first to work with Kaye: “Ariel had established such a strong California-cool identity, and I wasn’t sure how she’d feel about the weirdness I like to play within my spaces,” the designer admits. “Much to my surprise, she was incredibly open-minded, brave, and trusting.” They also both had similarly aged children, and Kaye knew Breer could conjure up an elevated yet not-too-serious space that felt kid-friendly and not overly precious.
To infuse age and character, they sourced vintage pieces, including a 1960s walnut sideboard by Silvio Coppola, 1950s pieces by Guillerme et Chambron, and 1940s Audoux-Minet rope chairs. Lighting was not to be overlooked, either: 1950s fixtures attributed to Jacques Biny embellish the family room; circa 1969 floor lamps braided with smoky amber Murano glass ribbons by Carlo Nason tower above the curved teddy-mohair Pierre Augustin Rose settee in the primary bedroom; and sculptural pearl-like sconces illuminate Armando Mesías’s abstract canvas The Sunk Cost Fallacy in the formal sitting room. Other artworks, including sand paintings by Bertrand Fompeyrine from Mexico City and pieces by Clare Grill and Katherine Bradford, add a sense of personal history.
Elsewhere, Breer resorted to custom creations to offset the boxy volume of various spaces: “Making the furniture exactly the right scale allowed the rooms to feel intimately proportionate rather than gargantuan,” she explains. She crafted a 12-foot-long dining table using an inlaid hardwood oak so it could be refinished if needed. (Veneer would be less forgiving.) Meanwhile, she covered the family-room-filling sectional in a nubby performance fabric by Kravet, with dusty rose piping and burgundy bouclé ball cushions. Breer also wrapped the dining room’s built-in cabinets in a funky olive green leather and installed new handles to add color and texture.
Moody paint hues, patterned upholstery, geometric mirrors, and layerings of rich textiles also softened the ambience. The office, which once felt like a cubicle, is now saturated with warm transporting tones: earthy blue Roman clay plastered walls, a terra-cotta-tiled cocktail table, and a russet Egyptian armadillo rug. Floor-length curtains and a pull-out daybed covered in an indigo-colored woven fabric by Schumacher allow it to double as a guest room. In the playroom, a vintage Camaleonda sofa by Mario Bellini in its original 1970s floral fabric vies with pistachio wooden paneling: “When Ariel said yes to that wacky Bellini, I nearly fell off my chair—it felt like such a choice!” says Breer, explaining they got away with its vintage fabric because the dark textured print could stand up to spilled juice, crayons, and Play-Doh.
Kaye lives to host and entertains weekly: “I didn’t want to have to rearrange furniture every time friends came by,” she says in the sitting room, where a Mario Marenco sofa recovered in a cognac Maharam fabric flanks a pair of ’70s Italian corduroy-covered lounge chairs. “Now I can have 40 people over and we can all hang out comfortably.” On a typical Saturday afternoon, she may throw an impromptu pool party. A dozen friends steadily begin to arrive, wading in the azure pool while their kids scoot around the allées lined with foxtail agave and candelabra cacti or climb into the treehouse-like jungle gym. Lou hands out princess dresses from her four-poster bed upholstered in Breer’s “Damn Chic” apricot and marigold fabric, as Van emerges from his Christopher Farr wallpapered nursery. The evening ends on the family room’s Gae Aulenti marble cocktail table: “I’m not going to tell you to have a dance party on yours, but my kids may have dance parties on mine,” Kaye confesses.
Part purposeful design and part problem solving, Breer and Kaye’s cross-pollination of ideas was perfectly symbiotic. “Being surrounded by this worldly patchwork of pieces makes it feel as though they’ve been here forever; I hope to pass many of them down to my children,” Kaye says. “Two years ago, I would have said I was a minimalist. Now, I’m far more eclectic—maybe even venturing toward maximalist!”
Ariel Kaye’s home appears in AD’s October issue. Never miss an issue when you subscribe to AD.