Southwest style for northern Beach homes

I recently got back from a trip to Los Angeles. I also spent time in Santa Monica, Venice Beach and other surrounding areas, wandering around looking at design and culture that is truly Californian. It struck me while I was there that the style and design of a place is unique to its area because of the environment. Materials, colours and structures are influenced by factors like climate, geography and the people living there.

There were so many interesting structures and spaces, but I often found myself thinking, “Those wouldn’t work at home.”

This fantastic patio at a restaurant we had lunch at, for instance, had an amazing reclaimed wood wall, leather furniture, interesting light fixtures and a gorgeous custom fire pit. Most of these wouldn’t last a week or be usable in our sub-zero, snow-filled winters, and our patio season is so short that for most restaurants it isn’t economically feasible to spend that much money on an outdoor space.

Small doses of bright colours can bring some southwestern beach style to a room, such as this southern California hotel lobby, and the same hotel’s bar, below. PHOTO: Christine Roberts

Living in a northern Beach climate, we often crave a little of that southern beach style … especially in the cold of winter. The most striking difference I noticed was in the abundance of colour. From the constant greenery of the gardens and trees to the bright accents of colours used on houses and buildings there is a vibrancy wherever you look.

In our neighbourhood we often don’t see colour outdoors for four or five months, and we spend much of our time indoors from November to April. During this time, we need to liven up our interiors and spread a little of that warmth around the home. Just a small touch of colour or pattern in a room can really make it feel alive. Southern style is bolder in scale, pattern and colour compared to our northern style.

Wool and fur accents look cozy and warm in a Canadian home during the fall and holiday season but when spring is approaching you may want to add something brighter and bolder.

The easiest way to do this is to change out your accent pieces. Try adding some cushions in bright and bold, graphic prints that are fresh and on trend.

There is a fantastic new fabric store in the neighbourhood called Tonic Living that sells fabric by the yard, ready-made pillow shams or can custom-make you pillows. Check out these great fabrics that will add some chic style to your room!

In the summertime we often bring the indoors out and make our outdoor spaces an extension of our homes. So as the winter is drawing to an end (hopefully!), why not bring some of that summer style and colour into the home to brighten it up?

Start some seedlings or bulbs indoors that can be later transplanted into the garden, and put some fresh flowers throughout your house. Their fragrance and colour will bring life to the room.

decor-hotel bar
PHOTO: Christine Roberts

If your home is neutral, try adding some brightly coloured accent items like vases, picture frames and even small furniture pieces, but keep them all in the same colour family. You can even spray paint items you may already have for a fun and inexpensive quick change. The hotel we stayed at was mostly black, white and grey but throughout they had various elements in different shades of bright green. Mixing antique pieces with modern graphic prints and a bold shade gave an overall effect that was bold, fresh and interesting.

Arriving home after being inspired by a new place, I’ve resolved to add some colour and fun into my home. While our beach isn’t exactly warm and sunny like California right now, we can all add some southern touch to our spaces. It just may be the thing that makes spring come early!


Christine Roberts is a stylist and interior designer. An avid vintage collector, she makes furniture and home accessories from reclaimed materials and co-founded The Leslieville Flea.

Was this article informative? Become a Beach Metro Community News Supporter today! For 50 years, we have worked hard to be the eyes and ears in your community, inform you of upcoming events, and let you know what and who is making a difference. We cover the big stories as well as the little things that often matter the most. CLICK HERE to support your Beach Metro Community News!