No Place Like Home

When Cindy Valeriano decided to renovate her home of 30 years, she looked no further than their own backyard for a qualified interior designer.

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    Marlene Stang

Laid-back, natural and breezily sophisticated … these words describe the residents of Via Palomino in Palos Verdes Estates as much as they do the neighborhood. So when Cindy and Gary Valeriano sought out an interior designer who would “get” what they wanted their revitalized interiors to look like, who better to ask than the girl who’d grown up next door?  

Mind you, Anna Hackathorn’s credentials go way beyond just being a local and long-time friend of the Valerianos—she recently joined the staff of the Lillian August showroom at H.D. Buttercup in Culver City and was named one of America’s “top young designers” by House Beautiful in 2003. Innate talent, a flair for the unexpected and working under such tastemakers as celebrity decorator Michael S. Smith all have taken her far … just not very far from her SoCal muse when the project calls for it.   “Anna’s very easygoing, and most importantly, she listens,” states Cindy Valeriano. “You could say that I like what I like, and Anna didn’t arrive with an agenda. She’ll give you what you’re looking for.”  

Walk through the front door of the Valerianos’ home, and that beach city ease is immediately apparent on a wall of art they’ve collected over the years. At once grand and intimate, Hackathorn’s positioning of each piece along the stairwell was informed by the collection’s overall eclecticism. That sense of texture plays out in the dining room as well, where refined details like toile wallpaper and a luminous crystal chandelier are juxtaposed against brown wicker chairs and a large raffia area rug.  

Venture to the kitchen, and you’re struck by the drama of a large section of black cabinetry filled with white dishes. Black countertops, windowpanes and black-and-white area rugs accentuate this theme while never compromising the fundamental ease of this gathering space. In brief, the vibe here is arresting yet inviting, with a small breakfast table nestled near the island in the center of the room.  In the living room, an elegant marble fireplace lends stately warmth to a room where, as Hackathorn puts it, details like mismatched chairs “take formality out of the equation.”

Since this room also serves as the Valerianos’ entertainment center, the marriage of beauty and comfort is key. Earthy wicker finds its way here again in the coffee table, as does that spirit of eclecticism in the use of both linen and silk upholstery over the plush furniture. And although the overall color scheme of the room is a serene, inviting beige, aqua-hued blue bookcases provide a chic tonal contrast. In her summation of the guest bedroom, Hackathorn waxes poetic, stating that this is quite possibly her favorite of any room she’s ever designed.

Awash in summery shades of orange, turquoise and white, it’s at once cozy yet fresh, with a rich array of fabrics that even complement the mood of a cold winter night. Seashell-print drapes, seersucker sheers and whimsical elements like lion lamps add to the free-spirited feel of this room, inviting guests to leave their cares at the door. It’s not a guest bedroom if it’s not inviting, after all … and Hackathorn intuited this fundamental feeling in every other room she touched in the Valerianos’ home as well.

To see more examples of Hackathorn’s inviting, evocative work, visit