Globetrotting family use their travels to inspire their interior design
By Shanee Edwards
Playa Vista residents Vicki and Juan Pablo, and their daughters 7-year-old Sienna and 4-year-old Maya Blue, welcomed their newest family member, a boy named Bear, just a couple months ago. Now that their son is here, the family is ready to go on an international adventure!
You might be asking yourself how that’s even possible during the pandemic, but the pandemic is precisely why the entire family is temporarily relocating to Colombia. With Vicki on maternity leave and Juan Pablo working remotely (both work in film and TV), now is the perfect time for Juan Pablo and the fam to return to his roots for six months.
“My family has an organic mango farm in Colombia so we’re going to go and spend some time there with the girls,” says Juan Pablo, adding, “The girls can run around and get dirty!” He also notes that having grandma around to help with the newborn is a comfort, too.
In the meantime, they are putting their Camden luxury home up for lease.
The Prietos decided to come to Playa Vista in 2015. “We were looking for a place to buy on the Westside,” says Vicki. “My husband drove through here about six years ago when it was still desolate in Phase 2 and thought this could be the future.” Juan Pablo saw a couple of girls riding their bikes by themselves and thought this must be a thriving, safe place to raise a family.
They scoured the 90094 zip code for a home. “When we were looking, there were about six 10-year-olds rollerblading by themselves and it was about six o’clock in the afternoon. That reminded me of the way I had grown up. Where you could go and meet your friends and ride bikes and not have to worry about it. That sealed the deal for me,” says Juan Pablo.
Their new Playa Vista home was going to live and look a lot differently than their previous one, a 1920s Pasadena home with Spanish architecture.
“When we bought [our home in Playa Vista], you were allowed to build it from the ground up but we had no decorating skills,” says Vicki with a laugh. “Once we moved in, we realized we needed a lot of help.”
After a chance-meeting with interior designer Faith Blakeney when selling their huge Spanish-style tile dinner table, they decided to employ Blakeney’s services. “She just had this awesome, hippie, eclectic vibe,” says Vicki. “We’re also a little more alternative in our style – not very traditional. Our styles blended in the sense that we liked the way she would think outside the box.”
The design goal was simple: they just wanted to give their home a little personality to make it a unique and fun space. Blakeney suggested wall coverings. “We started sampling the wallpaper and we end up decorating the whole house! We have wallpaper in every room and we enjoy it,” says Vicki.
Their favorite wall covering was created from a photo they took while traveling in Italy. “It’s a picture of the mountainside, looking into the ocean,” says Juan Pablo. “That one we turned into wallpaper because it’s a meaningful piece of artwork. We’ll always remember that trip.”
They decided on another wall covering for the girls’ room: this time cute and cuddly pandas from a company in Portugal. “We sent them the dimensions of the wall, but there’s a door on that wall,” Juan Pablo says. “They actually changed the design to put the panda on top of that door. They were very accommodating.”
Once the bedrooms were designed, they knew the living room would be a centerpiece for the house. They searched for the perfect wall accent. “We found a company called Stikwood online that basically sends you these pieces of wood that have [adhesive] on the back of them. You send them the measurement and put them up and they look like really nice, weathered wood,” says Juan Pablo.
The opposite wall in the kitchen needed some pizazz so they tried painting it different colors, but couldn’t settle on one. “We ended up going with mud cloth which was expensive by the foot so we only did one part of the wall rather than extending it out through the kitchen,” says Juan Pablo. If you’re unfamiliar with mud cloth, it’s a textile with hand-dyed art from West Africa. Another unexpected design accent chosen by this unconventional, globetrotting family.
The Prietos are now off to South America, but not to worry, they’ll be back after they’ve had their fill of mangos and Southern Hemisphere sunshine. Bon voyage!