California Dreamin’

By Cathy Lee Posted in: Celebrate StyleImprove
August 18, 2013

Achieving the California Cool look is a breeze when you mix urban style with a beachy feel. Use layers of textures, colors and patterns for an ecclectic appeal

We may live in Hawaii, but a very hot trend in fashion and interior design is called California Cool. That’s why I was thrilled when clients in Manoa told me the inspiration for the look that their 14-year-old daughter Hailey wanted for her bedroom: the uber cool Brandy Melville shop in Waikiki.

If you’re interested in infusing this style into your bedroom or any living space, then you’re going to love these next couple of weeks as I show you how. But first, let me show you the before and after.

Just as you see with any girl dressing in the Brandy style, it’s all about the layers. Only you’re not layering tanks, scarves and slouchy tees. Instead, you’re layering lots and lots of colors, styles and textures.

After. Photo: Justin Dotson

After. Photo: Justin Dotson

Hailey’s bedroom is a generous size. It’s bathed in plenty of natural light from the windows and large sliding glass doors that lead out to the swimming pool.

This girl is a swimmer who loves the pool as well as the ocean. She is outdoorsy, but she also has a very feminine side, so I decided to incorporate a little bling. What girl doesn’t love that? I knew she wanted the Brandy vibe, but I didn’t want her room to look like the store.

It needed to have its own distinct personality — Hailey’s personality.

I also wanted to give it a bit of sophistication that she can grow into over the years. So I decided the backdrop for my palette would be a soft charcoal black. My choice: Benjamin Moore’s Iron Mountain on all the walls. I assured Mom and Dad it wouldn’t make the room look too dark or small because of all the natural light and white trim throughout.

Then I layered in earth tones — beige, brown and taupe — and, of course, some fresh, clean, crisp whites and pops of the Brandy-style dusky pink and blue.

The next part of layering was styles. The look of this room is not all about the beach. It’s about infusing an urban as well as a vintage glam to make it a little more unique, interesting and fun. The urban vibe comes from the almost-charcoal walls, reclaimed wood and the dressers’ modern lines. The chandelier table lamps and deco pillow glisten with vintage glam.

As for the focal point? I knew it would be the bed. I designed a reclaimed-wood headboard that would function as bold, organic art. Then, I accessorized the white ruched cotton bedding with a variety of accent pillows to mimic the layered, chic yet casual look of a Brandy girl.



So how did we put together this personalized Brandy look? Do you just throw everything together and call it layering? Absolutely not. There is a rhyme and a reason here.

In the coming weeks, I’ll go over in detail how we achieved this look and how you can create a similar style for your space. For more pics of this room and others, you can check out our website at

Cathy Lee is president and designer of Cathy Lee Style and Cathy’s Marketplace, a furniture and accessories showroom with design services at 1110 University Ave. She recently opened reStyle Hawaii, an affordable, style-conscious consignment warehouse with upholstering and repurposing services at 420 Keawe St. in Kakaako. Lee’s interior design work has been featured in local and national publications, on HGTV and in her DIY design workshops that teach homeowners the basics of style. To find out more, go to