When Swedish-born interior designer Isabelle Dahlin drove past a 1923 Craftsman-style house for sale in a quiet Los Angeles neighborhood, it piqued her interest.
The house, on a street lined with identical Craftsman-style homes, had sat untouched for many years.
The designer and her husband, Brandon Boudet, sold their home of 13 years and moved into the Cypress Hill property with their two boxers, Hank and Lou. One year on, the 720-square-foot home is barely recognizable.
“We knew the place was going to be a total fixer-upper,” Dahlin said in her home-renovation story she submitted to Apartment Therapy.
“The house was very dark and dingy, so we also ended up opening up the ceilings to expose the original beams and put in skylight windows, which completely transformed the place.”
The couple also built a new foundation before tackling more cosmetic concerns.
Describing her style as “very eclectic,” Dahlin said she lives by the Swedish philosophy of Lagom, meaning “just enough,” or “perfect-simple.”
The designer chose functional, beautiful furniture made from natural materials, statement colors, and world textiles sourced from auctions, her travels, and flea markets to complete the new home.
“I don’t like spaces that are overly stimulating or overly minimalist, but feel balanced,” she wrote.
The bathroom—with its heated floors, steam shower, and freestanding claw-foot tub—and a cast iron gas burning stove were the couple’s biggest indulgences. Dahlin, who hates the cold, says it was “absolutely worth it.”
The designer thought outside the box when it came to the living room, reported Apartment Therapy.
Instead of finding the “perfect sofa,” Dahlin and her husband built a bespoke L-shaped bench with integrated storage to maximize the small space.
One of Dahlin’s favorite pieces in the entire house is an antique corner cabinet in the dining room, bought at auction. She and Boudet use the handsome cabinet to store glassware and a collection of vintage cookbooks belonging to Boudet, a chef.
When it comes to ambiance, Dahlin says lighting is everything.
“Growing up in Sweden where it is dark half the year has made me obsessed with bringing light into my homes,” she wrote.
“I like to mix lots of vintage Danish pottery table lamps, which I collect, and mid-century standing lamps with rustic chandeliers and industrial pendant ceiling lamps so I can achieve the perfect mood lighting at every time of day.”
She and Boudet also extended their living space by 200 square feet by building a deck at the back of the house for outdoor entertaining, the home decor site reported.
Boudet assembled an outdoor kitchen, including a barbecue, a pizza oven, and a restaurant-sized workbench for food preparation.
Four mature fruit trees already thriving in the garden provide the couple with oranges and lemons ad infinitum. A wraparound bench with a fire pit for chilly nights is Dahlin’s, and her pet dogs’, “favorite breakfast spot.”
The personal touches are plenty.
Inspired by the aesthetic of her grandparents’ house in northern Sweden, Dahlin painted a dark green trim on the exterior of the home to prompt fond memories.
“The bedroom, for example, is still not finished,” she wrote. “A perk of the job is that I can keep redoing it, I suppose!”