Beachy and organic colors set the tone for a young couple’s Playa Vista sanctuary
By Robyn Paris
What do you get when a former New England lobsterman marries a Southern California interior designer? A gorgeous Playa Vista home that reflects both the serenity and riches of the sea.
Native Californian interior designer Marisa Avallon and her Boston-native husband Greg, now a financial advisor, share their unique bicoastal style that features a neutral, soothing palette of color and natural materials.
Marisa, who grew up in a family of designers and artists (her grandfather was the interior designer for one of Michael Jackson’s homes) does interior design and decorating for Playa Vista master developer Brookfield Residential. While she initially designed model homes in Playa Vista, she now works with buyers as well, helping them pick finishes for their newly appointed residences.
The couple’s three-story home, one of Brookfield’s detached “Woodson” residences, has gorgeous and durable French white oak floors, chosen by Marisa. The kitchen is massive and gleams white with pristine Ceasarstone countertops and plenty of cabinet space. Natural light pours in from the large windows.
Greg and his brother started a lobstering business off the coast of Massachusetts as kids and the home’s décor pairs this family history with Marisa’s SoCal upbringing. A huge map of the Boston area adorns one wall opposite buoys from Greg’s lobster boat that served as the signing boards at the couple’s wedding. Framed photographs from trips to Italy and France remind them of their travels, while various “cool and interesting” knickknacks they’ve acquired in vintage stores and flea markets fill their shelves.
A favorite piece is a teak hand chair that, while it looks like a fun seat, serves “more as a place for purses,” Marisa says with a laugh. While Marisa adjusts her designs to fit the personality of clients, in her own home she prefers neutral colors: beige, cream white, greys — “beachy organic colors.” Their bedroom is “super comfortable, serene and tonal,” she says. Most of the furniture is bleached white oak. “I gravitate towards calm, soothing neutral colors.”
The decision to move to Playa Vista was a no-brainer for Greg and Marisa. Looking to transition from Venice, they visited friends in Playa Vista a few times and were charmed by the “Pleasantville”-like atmosphere and peaceful vibe.
Moving to Playa Vista “was like going to college,” she says. “Everyone is meeting each other at once. No one knew who their neighbors were going to be.”
Greg adds that the general perception of Playa Vista is that it’s a great place to raise a young family.
“This area is a breeding ground,” he says. “All you see are babies and pregnant women walking around.”
This fits for the newly married couple, as they plan to start a family of their own soon.
Marisa notes that Playa Vista is “completely different from Venice or Santa Monica — there’s a peacefulness, it’s quiet, it’s a sanctuary.”
Their spacious kitchen and landscaped backyard area with fire pit, grill and succulent wall allows them to frequently have people over to barbecue.
“There’s so much within reach,” says Marisa. “Whether it’s riding a bike path down to the beach or taking Patrick and Stormy [the dogs] to a bluff trail by LMU, we are always active. Playa Vista neighbors have become tight friends — people to share a glass of wine with after work and to travel with.”
Greg adds that each year his brother sends about 60 or 70 lobsters from their business, and they invite friends over for a lobster bake in the large kitchen.
“We’ve made so many really great friends,” Greg says. “When we moved here, we didn’t know what to expect. Now, we’re two years into it and neither one of us has any thoughts about leaving.”
Marisa, in turn, is very content with her job designing for Brookfield.
“I love working in the community,” she says, “and I walk to work every day” — a rare treat in Los Angeles.