Growing up we lived in mostly new houses. It was when I settled permanently in Los Angeles that I realized there was so much more to the architecture of the region than the typical Brady Bunch-style suburban dwelling (though Greg's groovy teen attic space was the bomb!). I fell hard for period architecture, particularly from the twenties and thirties. Many neighborhoods from this era exist all over the LA basin and are places where no two houses are alike, where mature trees create a verdant, lush backdrop for architecture in a variety of styles: Spanish, Tudor, French Normandy, Art Deco--the list goes on. Mahogany doors, handcrafted hardware, luminous plaster walls, and above all, exposed beams make old houses desirable but are also turning up in all kinds of new construction and remodeling. Let's talk about those beams!
This living room is part of one of my all-time favorite Spanish-style houses in Ojai, California, brilliantly restored by L.A. interiors and fabrics design maven Kathryn Ireland (it was quickly scooped up by actress Reese Witherspoon). There's even an entire book dedicated to it. Look at those beams--like a great brow above a pretty set of eyes, they seem to help frame a great room if only from above. Lusting after that Juliet balcony too... (Image from Elle Decor)
As seen above, this living room space also gains such unique, jaw-dropping character from beams. The enormous arched mirror in the background is a fantastic way to mimic a window and I can't stop imaging how comfortable that quilted/egg-crate-like fabric on those couches must be, swallowing you up in the most cozy way. Image from Lonny.
Another traditional dark-beam look found on My Domaine adds to the old-world look a funky modern industrial contrast with the industrial chic chandelier with its marquee bulbs. Meanwhile (as seen in the image below) beams can also have a rustic whitewashed look mixed with natural fabrics, textures, and an earthy palette Georgia O'Keeffe would approve of, yet this warm interior is really to be found in Spain. Image: The Style Files.
An expansive peaked ceiling in this large living/dining room space gains definition and texture from the popular unfinished or natural wood look also enhanced by the modern room divider/hearth that serves as both wood storage/fireplace/art installation (Image: My Domaine via Pinterest). Below beams painted white to coordinate with the rest of the room gives it an open and bright Scandinavian look, as seen recently via Apartment Therapy.
Worried this just isn't in the cards for you? Well, you don't need to buy an older home or hunt down aged, reclaimed barn wood or the like to achieve these looks; many companies are now offering faux treatments that are easier to install, even with hollow interiors to lighten the load. Check it out!