UNIQUE ABODE 03: KYRA SMOLKIN'S COLOURFUL COASTAL COWGIRL HOME
This journal series celebrates distinctive homes and their owners, showcasing their individuality and creativity while uncovering the secrets behind each unique abode.
Recently having moved from Vancouver to Los Angeles, Kyra Smolkin shares the inspiration behind decorating her new home, how she connects with the "coastal cowgirl" trend, and how sustainability plays a part in her interior and clothing style.
Give us a little intro into who you are and your world
Hi, I’m Kyra! I’m a born and raised Canadian, but I now live in LA with my husband and my Bernese mountain dog. I work in creative production and content creation and one of my long standing interests is interior design. As soon as I started making my own money at 16, I was investing in frivolous throw pillows and other home decor. My free time is spent vintage shopping, trying new restaurants or returning to my faves, and cooking or working on my own little creative projects.
For all of us who have wished to pack up our rainy Vancouver life to move to sunny LA, tell us how this move came true for you
My husband works in entertainment so his work has been here for years. I never thought I’d live in LA but as soon as it was on the table, I was totally in. I love Vancouver but I’m always up for a change and LA is such an incredible city (despite its many stereotypes). There’s truly something for everyone here, and I think it’s opened my mind up to being more creative and exploring my options.
He’s a dual citizen so in that sense, I got lucky, but I will say the visa process is lengthy and stressful. We’ve been here for over a year but only recently celebrated my green card approval!
What was the process of finding your dream home in a brand new city & country like?
Again, I’m lucky that it feels like it all happened very organically. We narrowed in on a few neighborhoods we would live in since there are so many to choose from. We also had a list of priorities and non-negotiables, but when you love a place, those things kind of go out the window (for example, this house doesn’t have a dishwasher, but we’ll add one eventually.)
And then from there, honestly, we got extremely lucky. A million things just happened to go our way and the stars truly aligned for us to get this house. I’m sure any homeowner knows the process can be a huge headache, but I will say that as soon as I saw this one online, I had a gut feeling we were going to get it. This may seem like obscure advice, but my advice to anyone looking would be to trust your gut instinct. We bid on one other house and I’m so glad we didn’t get it because it just wouldn’t have been right for us.
You are the epitome of the latest trend: “coastal cowgirl” (and were before it became a trend we must say) what draws you to this style?
Hahah thank you! I definitely have always been drawn to this type of style because it’s somehow both laidback and eclectic at the same time. And I think it combines the 2 biggest elements of my personal style – the refined and classic looks from the coastal side, and the fun, retro elements from the “cowgirl” side.
For someone that is unfamiliar with this aesthetic, how would you describe it, what do you think characterizes it?
The nice thing about this “trend” is that it can be interpreted in different ways and there’s lots of room for personal style. There isn’t necessarily a formula – it can mean combining airy linens with vintage 70s pieces. In general, I think it’s all about encompassing the effortless lifestyle of coastal California, while bringing in the charm and eclecticism of western wear (think suedes and denims and patchwork pieces.) Also, despite being a current buzzword/major trend, I do believe the style itself is quite timeless and attainable.
Having been in your new home for a little over a year now, what is your favorite room and for what reason?
Oh that changes all the time, but the room with the wood paneled walls, fireplace, and vaulted ceilings is probably my forever favorite. I’ll always be a little bit obsessed with the 70s, and we’ve treated this room as a lounge/hosting area, complete with our growing vinyl collection, record player, and bar. It’s cozy, moody, and retro.
You perfectly blended your style with your home’s unique character, how did you achieve this?
Thank you! One of my favorite things about this house is that each room has its own personality so I didn’t want to change that. I’m a gemini, so I appreciate any excuse to not have to choose one style.
I think we really just took a look at the character in each room and went from there but instead of assigning a style to each room, I aimed to assign a mood or feeling. So for the living room with the floral wallpaper, I wanted it to be funky and fun. That’s why we have a velvet sofa, checkered rug, and large burl wood credenza. For my bedroom, I always want it to be calm and airy. That’s why I kept it very neutral, with pops of blue. The windows along each wall make it feel like a cottage or tree house, so it’s already a calming place to be and I just wanted to embrace that and not go overboard on the decor. I truly feel like all the different pockets of my personality are represented in our house.
What are your tips to incorporate a little bit of your husband’s décor style with yours?
I’m sure every couple is different, so I think it’s about knowing what’s important to your partner. Which is why we have a gigantic TV –much bigger than I would choose– in our living room. Luckily he really appreciates my taste and he’s happy to let me drive when it comes to decorating. That being said, he does keep me from going too hard on the weird vintage purchases. I also think that things like art and vinyls are easy to collaborate on. I’ve gifted my husband some prints that I knew he would love but that I also approved of ;)
How has sustainability played a part in buying pieces for your new home, as well as in general with your wardrobe?
I’ve loved thrifting for as long as I can remember, and I personally find buying second hand the easiest (and coolest way) to shop sustainably. I think everyone has their own strategy for incorporating vintage into their home. For me, I gravitate toward accent pieces and smaller decor items and mix them in with modern/contemporary furniture so my house feels balanced. When it comes to big ticket items like sofas and bed frames, my rule of thumb is to always go classic and high quality so you don’t get sick of it or replace them quickly.
For my wardrobe, I have a similar outlook and I’ve learned the most natural way for me to shop sustainably is to invest in high quality, timeless pieces that will last years. Only in the last year or so do I feel like I really got a grip on my personal style and the types of things I reach for time and time again. I’m now much happier to pay more for a piece that I’m obsessed with and that will be a staple in my closet.
How would you describe your clothing style?
Although I find it tough to define my style, it usually airs on the feminine side and typically has a touch of something vintage or vintage inspired. Depending on where I am and which version of myself I’m feeling, sometimes it’s more classic and refined, and sometimes it’s more colorful or more retro. So I do feel like my home decor translates well into my clothing style!
To end our little interview, we’d love to know how your harly jae pieces complement your style!
harly jae pieces are the exact types of pieces that I look to invest in. They’re beautiful quality and are timeless and versatile and can be styled a million different ways. They’re things I would throw on effortlessly in LA but also look forward to styling in more unique ways in Europe this summer!