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By Erinn Valencich

When you enter this Manhattan Beach, CA home, you walk into a contemporary living room with soaring ceilings. However, the way the room was designed, the room felt more like a large foyer than a space to hang out and relax.

The home was built just a few years earlier, and although it was elegant and new, most of the rooms lacked character. It felt like a builder had constructed the home without paying much attention to details.

The living room had a sense of drama with its double-height ceiling, but the short and unadorned fireplace lacked in architectural interest and didn’t take advantage of the tall ceiling.

Before

Before: The living room's short fireplace and mantle appeared to be “stuck on the wall.”

Before: The living room’s short fireplace and mantel appeared to be stuck on the wall.

After

After: Extending the fireplace to the ceiling adds drama to the room.

After: Extending the fireplace to the ceiling adds interest to the room.

Fireplace redo

To give this place some real style, the key was to take advantage of the height! Adding framing to the fireplace gave it some dimension and height.

A coat of smooth stucco refreshed the dull fireplace, and the hearth stone was replaced with a modern take on Spanish tile. The chocolate and cream pattern lent itself nicely to the home, and separated the hearth from the cream stone floor. Once the fireplace was framed and finished, a solid wood mantel with corbels was added.

Furniture that works for the space

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Orange chairs continue the Spanish vibe.

In a small space like this, a sofa wouldn’t work, but four matching club chairs gives the feeling of conversation and comfort.

Continuing the quest to take advantage of the height in the living room, a 12-foot-tall bookcase infused refined elegance. Its Spanish doors with a hand-carved diamond pattern and heavy distressing added an elegant, old-world feel to the cleaner club chair design. This bookcase created room for great accessories, photos and books — bringing a sense of personality into the living room.

Final touch: Accessories

Antique books and found items create visual interest.

Antique books and found items create visual interest.

For a funky cool look, accessorizing with vintage books is perfect for a traditional Spanish feel. Great sets can be picked up on sale at used bookstores or antique stores. This set of 19 books with leather bindings and gold-leaf details was nabbed for $130.

Bookcases always look best with a mix of objects, from funky little statues, to carved boxes, to framed art or even poetry. A Chinese rice bin with piled up sheet moss adds a little color and touch of nature.

Less is more, with this mantle.

Less is more with this mantle.

To update the mantle, just a few simple items are needed. A large-scale drawing, framed in gold leaning in the center, is flanked by an old ceramic horse and a garden statue. One small piece of driftwood sets the pair askew and adds texture.

See more photos of the room on Zillow Digs.

Erinn Valencich is known for redefining casual elegance with a modern touch. Her taste and passion for fine living, as well as her ebullient personality led to Erinn being chosen among the talents of the most accomplished designers in the country, to go head to head in a high-stakes competition of creativity and style on NBC’s American Dream Builders, hosted by Nate Berkus. Valencich has designed for numerous celebrities and clients around the country through her Los Angeles-based firm, Erinn V Design Group. She launched her furniture line and store, Erinn V, on Robertson Blvd in Los Angeles in 2011. Her collection is available at fine showrooms around the country. Among her many passions, Erinn was chosen to decorate the State Department under Hillary Clinton for Diplomacy at Home for the Holidays and has a development company building luxury real estate in Los Angeles. Erinn’s work has been featured in Elle Decor, Architectural Digest, Town & Country, House Beautiful, Traditional Home, Robb Report, USA Today, Los Angeles Times and many more. In addition to her residential work, EVDG recently completed a 650-room hotel and casino in Las Vegas, The Downtown Grandwww.ErinnV.com

About the Author

Find incredible home design ideas and photos at Zillow Digs. Thousands of the very best solutions for interior design and home improvement.

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