Brian Smith and his wife, Gina Nigrelli Smith, have an incredible eye for design. As a jewelry designer with her own line, Jules Smith, Gina is inherently stylish, and Brian, the co-founder of Winc Wine, has always been passionate about interiors. So when the couple began looking for homes in Venice, California, their respective passions and backgrounds in design allowed them to see past the overgrowth and dated interiors of a quaint 1,800-square-foot circa-1940s bungalow. “It was hard to see the potential as the yard was overgrown and the space had some odd walls and clutter,” says Brian. What enticed the couple was that, while outdated, the previous homeowners had put an addition on in the 1980s that was a touch more modern than the original structure and boasted high ceilings and natural light. Plus, the home was situated on the front of the lot, which meant ample space in the backyard for entertaining and playtime with their two young kids. It didn’t take long for the couple to infuse the home with their own signature, boho-chic style. Here’s what they did to their home—and what you should try, too.
Where did you start with the design of the home?
Brian: The fireplace was a major focal point. Gina was obsessed with these Tabarka tiles and that informed the rest of the house.
What were some of the must-have design elements in the house?
B: We wanted a mix of clean lines and organic materials. The wooden counter top is a key element in the open kitchen where we spend a lot of time. Gina’s experience with metals drove us to incorporate a wide range oil brushed bronze and brass fixtures and tones throughout the house. There are also lots of natural fiber wall decorations, hanging shells, air plants, and succulents. And art—I’m obsessed with limited edition prints from Cody Hudson, Erik, Kaws, Steve Powers and Cleon Peterson.
What challenges did you face while designing the house?
Gina: We had to remove a few walls to open it up and add a wall to create an extra bedroom. The master bath was also a challenge as it is a little small. We used floor-to-ceiling woodgrain tiles to open it up.
What are some of your favorite things about the home?
G: I love that it is all open and usable space. We live in and enjoy every square foot of this house. A lot of our life is centered around eating, drinking, and entertaining. The open kitchen lends itself to that. When we designed the backyard, we just wanted the ultimate place to hang out. It features an expansive stone patio, pool, and a petanque court.
What things did you want to take advantage of in the home?
B: We liked that the house was situated on the front of the lot, which isn’t always the case. This provided a lot of space in the backyard. As former New York City residents, we were excited to create the ultimate hangout. The backyard features an expansive stone patio and pool with a couple of different hangout zones. In efforts to minimize water use, we also decided to put in a petanque (French bocce court), which is a favorite sport of many of our winemaker friends in France and even Mexico.
What design element did you use in the home that you feel readers should try?
B: Gina loves to mix and match unlikely patterns, colors, and fabrics. I think the texture and layering gives the house a timeless cozy feel and something everyone should try!
How would describe your jewelry line, Jules Smith?
G: Clean-lined silhouettes with edgy, California girl details make up an anthology of pieces that speak to classics, bohemians, and trailblazers. The pieces are vintage inspired with subtle nods to the most intriguing aspects of 60s Post-Modernism, 70s boho, and 80s glam.
Did the design you do for your jewelry line play a role in the design of the home?
G: Yes. My collection consists of items constructed with mixed metals and textures and I tried to emulate that in the fixtures in our home.
How would you describe the home's interior design?
G: Eclectic, modern bohemian. Our home was built in the 1940s so it has the Venice bungalow charm but an addition that was added in the 1980s that is contemporary. We wanted the interiors to reflect the architecture of the home’s original design.
How did you find some of the pieces for your home?
G: Estate sales, vintage finds. I purchased many of the textiles and ceramics at the Santa Monica flea market. I am a huge fan of Etsy, as well. We have a close friend, who is an art dealer who helps us with our artwork selections and purchases.