A Treasure in Every Corner
by Rachel Heller
Strolling through the jewel-toned dining and sitting areas of Cheryl Davidson’s ranch home, words like "cozy" or even "snug" come to mind. But limited dimensions didn’t stop her and her husband, Bill Davidson, from hosting more than 50 guests recently for Rosh Hashanah.
"This little house gets a lot of traffic," Davidson said. "You don’t have to live in a mansion to live well."
Maximizing space is Davidson’s M.O. as an interior designer, using her own 1956 Sherman Oaks abode as an ever-evolving case study. With only 2,700 square feet to work with, Davidson fashioned a comfortable haven for her family of four that spotlights thoughtful storage ideas and treasured heirlooms — all blended seamlessly by her whimsical, rustic design palette.
"This house is always a work in progress," she said with a laugh, recalling the many times she has swapped the locations of the dining room and den. "In a small home, you have to make every inch livable."
In the galley kitchen, where space is at a premium, Davidson built a shelving cart that rolls out of a narrow breakfast nook, stacked with the family’s colorful Italian serving ware. A bench seat behind the breakfast table opens to reveal hidden storage space for her rice cooker and other small appliances.
The living room is a vibrant emblem of her philosophy: personalized style on a budget. Couches and chairs are dressed in slipcovers that can be easily changed if she gets tired of the pattern. And in a sitting area outside the kitchen, a meaningful memento infuses the room with DIY warmth: the frame of son Jake’s first bed (he’s now a senior at Milken Community High School), whitewashed and repurposed as a daybed beneath a picturesque garden window. "I love it — I’ll never get rid of it," Davidson said.
A self-described flea market addict, Davidson is fond of collecting accent art and crafts to brighten every corner of her dwelling. On a desk in the kitchen, an otherwise mundane work space is enlivened by bejeweled decoupage dolls. The edge of a dividing wall sparkles with a string of decorative hamsas. Even the backyard is filled with rustic props reimagined as garden ornaments, such as an antique hanging scale whose tray now spills over with succulents.
The key to a tasteful home, Davidson believes, is to keep cherished items and purge clutter.
"I believe in beauty that’s guided by practicality," she said. "I’d rather have a handful of fabulous things than a ton of ordinary things."
Find her at elleryandesign.com.
Cheryl Davidson’s DIY Tips
Changing paint color, upholstery and hardware can give the appearance of a comprehensive home makeover — at a fraction of the cost.
"A very inexpensive way to change the look of a room is with paint," Davidson said, "but you have to put colors in the right place." Muted tones work better in adult bedrooms, for instance. Yet, anywhere else, homeowners should try "playing around with color," she urged. A sunny, tangerine hue sets off her kitchen. The living room walls are mocha and dark chocolate. The dining room is mustard.
As for furniture, Davidson suggests sticking with a solid color couch and layering bold patterns and textures around it. "You can always dress it up and change the flavor of the room with pillows or throws," she said.
And don’t neglect doorknobs, drawer pulls and light-switch plates, she said — a few distinctive accents can go a long way.