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Claire Thomas would do anything for a good contractor — including design his dream house. So when Christopher A. Christian approached the director-turned-interior designer, she immediately signed on to help him build his family home from the ground up.

The CT West Construction founder and his wife Lindsey had become dear friends to Thomas during a previous project, so it only made sense that they collaborate once again. The single-level new construction features Thomas’s signature narrative-style decor that’s tailor-made for its inhabitants, so the couple’s desired blend of old world Europe grandeur and California bohemian breeziness is readily apparent.

“I always frame it as a story,” Thomas explains. “My job is to bring a cohesive vision and to ensure it has a sense of purpose.” She accomplished that by infusing every inch of the place with antiques, graphic prints, and an elegant color palette. With 16-foot ceilings and romantic architectural elements like arches and built-ins, a timeless abode was born.

Finding Inspiration

The bold aesthetic of the massive open kitchen was informed by a bakery Thomas visited in Sonora, Mexico. She’d been taken by its tall patterned backsplash and decided to borrow the idea. The counter-to-ceiling geometric Fireclay Tile is paired with two types of Semihandmade cabinet doors for dramatic two-tone storage. The Chris Loves Julia Cove fronts add a warm wood texture into the mix, while the DIY Shakers are painted in an eye-catching teal hue.

Though the cupboards make a splash, the expressive purple veining of the Violetta marble counters might just steal the show. The striking surface is juxtaposed with blue limestone floors that extend into the dining and living areas, as well as onto the patio. “It creates a seamlessness between the indoors and the outdoors,” describes Thomas.

Incorporating Antiques

To fully achieve the historic essence Lindsey requested, Thomas knew she needed to weave antique finds in with the contemporary finishes. “I love antiques because they’re another form of treasure hunting,” she muses. “They bring this sense of whimsy and mystery, adding so much character to a house.”

Antique gems like a large pine mirror, Chinese vases, festive tchotchkes, and a faded rug merge with modern fittings like a sleek dining table, a green velvet sofa, a cane and bouclé daybed, and a round chandelier that recalls Medieval times with its gothic candle-shaped bulbs. Lush indoor plants like fishtail palms provide ambiance on top of the old-new fusion.

Getting Specific

A grand arched hallway with marble checkerboard floors leads to the bedrooms, each of which is a world of its own. The daughters share pale pink sleeping quarters with trippy striped walls inspired by early 20th-century designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh, while the sons retire to bunk beds, shiplap, and a spacious armoire with Semihandmade DIY Shaker panels. The moody main bedchamber offers an unexpected collection of sage, mustard, and red.

Finally, all the bathrooms nod to Art Deco, which dominated the look of Los Angeles lavatories far beyond the 1920s. With an oversize bronze tub in one, playful Lewis & Wood wallpaper with an Elizabethan motif in another, and terracotta tiles in the third, even the smallest spaces tell a story. Thomas makes every detail count.


What’s the best paint color for my kitchen cabinets? How do I personalize my rental without renovating? Which interior design trends will stick around beyond 2021? How did marble become so popular in kitchen design (and should I splurge on my dream countertops)? Our interior design journeys are filled with questions which we at SemiStories attempt to answer every week through expert interviews, inspiring home tours, and trend reports. “Do As a Designer Does,” our monthly advice column, takes us behind the scenes of kitchen and bathroom design (and beyond) by spotlighting the best brains in the business. Here, we turn the microphone over to you to ask all your burning interior design, trend, and renovation questions to your favorite experts, from Sarah Sherman Samuel to Bobby Berk. Have a question? Shoot us a message on Instagram, or email us at for a chance to be featured! Have you ever wondered why certain details exist in your home? Maybe you’ve questioned who came up with the idea for forks, or perhaps you’ve contemplated how pantries have evolved over centuries—after all, both can be intriguing in their own right. The truth is, most of what we surround ourselves with at home has an interesting story to tell. In our monthly series “Design History” with (actual) design historian Amy Azzarito, we’ll explore the backstories of your favorite things. Home tours are intriguing for a reason: they give us a rare glimpse into the way other people live and inspire us to improve our own spaces. Maybe it’ll motivate you to paint your laundry room a bright sunshine yellow, persuade you a stacked teal backsplash is the way to go, or convince you the entryway is the perfect place for a gumball machine (hey, why not?). Whatever you take away, we have no doubt you’ll get tons of kitchen and bathroom design ideas to bring home. Are farmhouse islands here to stay? What will be the biggest interior design and hardware trends in 2021? Will the pandemic affect what homes of the future look like? Our weekly trend stories will keep your finger on the pulse of interior design, renovating, and more.