La Vie Bohème
A passion for flea market finds and DIY creativity brings a refreshing style to a Portuguese Bend ranch house.
It’s a pretty, picturesque morning at the Wade house. With strawberry-stained fingers, 1½-year-old Remington Wade floats across the living room, her feet just barely touching the floor. A loveable French bulldog named Charlie watches her every move as mom, Vanessa, laughs and says, “I feel like I have 1.25 children,” referring to Charlie as her “firstborn.”
Vanessa’s mother, Pamela, walks in from the kitchen offering hot cappuccinos and homemade oatmeal-chocolate-chip cookies. To see the dynamic between the three generations is sweet and, honestly, rather impressive. “We all benefit from ,” Pamela says. “It’s perfect.”
Vanessa describes her relationship with her mother by saying, “We’re like partners in crime, and we’re both big DIY people.” This last statement is evident throughout the home.
It’s hard not to feel inspired to seek out your inner creative self while walking through the Wade house—though what seems like an effortless project for Vanessa might be a bit more involved for the rest of us. As a wardrobe stylist with a great eye and a self-proclaimed “treasure hunter,” Vanessa discovers her artistry through exploration.
“I shop a lot of flea markets. I go every month,” she explains. “My only motto is that I have to finish my current project before I go back. Otherwise I’ll just turn into a hoarder—a glamorous hoarder.”
Following in her mother’s footsteps, Remington comes along for the ride. “I love taking Remington to the flea market,” Vanessa explains. “It’s the only time she’ll sit in her stroller; she’s just mesmerized. It’s in her blood, she’s got a little flare from her mother and her grandmother.”
Of course it’s not just at her favorite local flea markets that Vanessa loves to rummage for a good find. After tearing down what turned out to be a supporting wall in the kitchen, Vanessa jumped at the opportunity to find a creative solution.
“I said, ‘Great, I love exposed beams.’ So I hustled down to Gardena and picked up this beam at a vintage lumber yard,” Vanessa explains. “It was like a treasure hunt.”
The kitchen was the first major project the Wades took on after purchasing the house. Located on the Portuguese Bend in Rancho Palos Verdes, the spacious ranch-style home originally belonged to Vanessa’s grandparents.
“We bought the house when I was eight months pregnant,” Vanessa notes. “My grandparents passed away about 10 years ago. My mom had been renting it out, and we were interested in buying. We’d always kind of dreamt about living somewhere like this.”
When moving day came, Vanessa’s husband, Tyler Wade, who recently became a captain for the Manhattan Beach Fire Department, enlisted the help of his co-workers. “I swear I could have sold tickets to our move-in day,” says Vanessa. “There were tons of really cute firemen moving us in. They have such a brotherhood; everyone stepped up to the plate to help.”
The kitchen, which was originally covered in turquoise, got a major upgrade including custom, slow-closing cabinets, quartz countertops and an island with a beautifully warm walnut top and bar seating. “I’ve always loved the combination of wood and white, because I feel like you’ll never tire of it, and you can always switch out the accessories,” Vanessa says. “Kind of like jeans and a white T-shirt.”
This mode of thought continues into the main living space. “Because the floor is such a bright red terra-cotta, I wanted to do the walls all white and play with pops of color that I could switch out,” Vanessa explains.
Off the main living area is a family room. “I like having the TV in there instead of the living room,” says Vanessa. It keeps the massive, 20-foot glass door the focal point of the main living space. “We love to sit here with friends over and just watch the kids play outside.”
In Remington’s room, Vanessa plays with an array of accessories to create a unique juxtaposition between uber girlie-girl and rustic flare, including golden deer figurines, decorative arrows and antlers. “Her room is one of my favorite places,” Vanessa notes, though elements of Remington can be found throughout the house.
In the main living space she has a teepee, made by Vanessa, and a small kitchenette. There’s also a mudroom-turned-playroom off the kitchen.
But even with all the kid-friendly areas designated throughout the home, the family appears to spend the most of their time in the yard. With a small shaded area off the house and another large rustic dining table, there is plenty of seating to sip your morning coffee or serve dinner al fresco.
“It’s just so peaceful, that’s what I love about it up here,” Vanessa says. But it’s so much more than just serene. With peach, plum, lemon and orange trees, as well as three chickens named Cinnabon, Sweet Pea and Big Mama Red, the Wades’ yard serves as a bountiful retreat away from the hustle-and-bustle of town.
“ were really good at growing food,” says Vanessa. “My grandmother would pickle everything, and my grandpa loved it. This yard was his sanctuary.”
With Charlie the dog innocently chasing the chickens and Remington teetering around underneath the fruit trees, it’s easy to see that the yard continues to be a sanctuary for the Wades. Even though their home is only 15 minutes from town, there’s a distinct shift in energy as you make your way up the hill … a slower pace that includes waving to your neighbor on horseback as they ride past your front door. The laidback vibe is contagious, making it clear to see why the Wades have always dreamt of living “somewhere like this.”