Renee Garcia's Los Angeles Craftsman Is An Eclectic-Cool Retreat
Photos: Ryan Eng
On the border of South Pasadena in Northeast Los Angeles sits the quiet community of Garvanza. Butted up against Arroyo Glen’s verdant rolling hills, this is a place with deep historical roots. As the story goes, the area is traditionally known as Rancho San Rafael, a tight-knit ranching industry known for its expansive garbanzo fields. Later, the neighborhood took on the name of Garvanza and became a refuge for bohemian, artistic-minded settlers moving into Southern California. This sense of history and place permeates the neighborhood today: Artist boutiques run along the Figueroa corridor, Craftsman homes dot side streets, a subtle sweetness hangs in the air. It’s easy to see why Fashion Mama Los Angeles member Renee Garcia, a knitwear and graphic designer, and her husband Jonathan chose the area to purchase their first home.
Their stone blue Craftsman honors the past while remaining impeccably modern and fresh. Fruit trees and plant life encircle the property, nodding to Garvanza’s former ranching past. When you enter into the home, you feel immediately grounded and connected to ancestral roots of Renee and Jon’s families — both of whom hail from Southern California. For Renee, mother to 2-year-old Beau and French bulldogs Oliver and Lucy, this home and neighborhood is close to where her own mother grew up.
“My mom laughs [at the fact] that we moved back over here,” she says. The irony is that “here,” Renee’s home, is exactly where the heart is — a reflection of familial bonds both past and present. Read on below for a glimpse from our sunny afternoon visit to Garvanza with Renee and her son Beau.
What initially attracted you to the area and your home?
We live in the Garvanza district of Highland Park on the border of South Pasadena. We were sick of renting homes and our financial advisor encouraged us to finally bite the bullet on buying a property of our own. We had been renting in Echo Park and decided to head further east to Garvanza, which we fell in love with. When a home opened up across the street from a park with two playgrounds, a skate park, and a baseball field as well as down the street from friends with a son the same age as ours, we knew we had to act fast! It's far less crowded, more family friendly, and close to so many fun neighborhoods.
Describe your home's vibe.
Our house has a classic Craftsman vibe on the outside since it was originally built in 1920. On the inside it is an updated light-filled open concept family home that fits our lifestyle perfectly. Our interior style features clean lines, bright colors, eclectic textures like brass and wicker, and an overall relaxed bohemian vibe.
If you could use three words to describe your personality, what would they be?
Down to earth.
What kinds of items do you love to surround yourself with and how do these items identify with your personality?
I love plants and try to make sure I can see green in every corner of the house which gives me a sense of calmness. I also love pieces that have a nod to '70s style, like our Heather Levine wall hanging, which reminds me of my mom. We've moved so many times and cut clutter with each move, so we strive to keep our style clean — which helps us stay grounded and clear minded.
What are the biggest adjustments you’ve had to make as your family has grown?
Jon and I were so work-driven prior to becoming parents, so as soon as we were pregnant our life had greater meaning and we made smarter business decisions. After two years as a working mom, I decided to cut my hours to spend more time with my son before he starts school full time because I recognized how precious this time is in the grand scheme of things.
What is your favorite place in your home?
My favorite place is our living area. [Here] we eat, play, talk, and cuddle. Its open concept provides plenty of opportunities throughout the day to stay together and enjoy the same activity, or each be doing something different while still remaining close together. I can cook and watch my son play at the same time while my husband catches up on emails at the island counter. I also love my son’s room and enjoy being in there because it’s the only room I feel like I don't need to add anything to.
How have you translated your aesthetic into Beau’s room, and what do you love about it?
Beau's room is a break from our otherwise simple design aesthetic. I aimed to create a child's room that was whimsical and warm and provided plenty of space for my son's wild ways. I love that its whimsical vibe helps to encourage his imagination. The personality is fun and imaginative.
I love musical instruments and so does Beau, he will spend hours playing drums, ringing bells, or pounding away at his xylophone. Jon and I met when he was guitar player in a band and I'm pretty sure Beau inherited his musical genes. I try to collect real instruments instead of play instruments which tend to sound and look more authentic. Sometimes [when] it gets very quiet and I go looking for him, and I hear a little voice coming from his room re-enacting out something with his toys, perfectly engaged in imaginative play all by himself.
[There are also] African baskets filled with toys, books to dive into, and a large triangle painting that doubles as a chalkboard wall. The colors are subdued since there is a lot going on with the wallpaper and framed art. I also kept the curtains a subtle grey color since our son needs total darkness for sleeping. [Beau’s] toys vary from visually appealing brands like Hape and Melissa & Doug to brightly colored plastic trucks because let’s be real — those are his favorite.
What is one of your favorite items in the nursery?
Is there a ritual that you have that you share with Beau?
Every night before bed we lay down in either his room or ours and talk about our day and what we are thankful for. It's seriously the sweetest thing to hear him talk about what he chooses to be thankful each night and it changes each day, so it's something I look forward to. He tends to say thank you for basketball, grandma, all the mommies, all the daddies, and something silly like strawberries.
Where do you shop for home decor items?
I shop all over, some of my favorites are flea markets, some are Instagram vendors like Flea Market Fab for amazing rugs & floor cushions. I also love Lulu & Georgia, World Market, West Elm, CB2, Land of Nod, and some of the best things we have are hand-me-downs!
What item in your home do you treasure the most?
That's a tough question! I'd have to say our piano for several reasons. I can remember when Beau was a newborn and my husband made his own songs for him that basically made my heart melt every time. As Beau got older, he grew tall enough to begin to play on his tippy toes, and now at two-and-a-half years he loves to play songs and have us sit on either side of him to play along. We have the piano adorned with photos of our parents and grandparents and it's a good reminder of our roots and childhood memories with them.
Nara Walker is a FMLA member, producer, writer and mother to sons Kai and Odin.