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Bohemian Inspiration In A Family’s Art-Filled California Home

by Sofia Tuovinen

When and her family found their 1927 dream home in the La Cañada Flintridge suburb of Los Angeles, CA, they had already settled on a nearby ranch-style house from the 40s. There hadn’t been a lot to pick from in the area they wanted to live in, and the family simply felt that they could make some improvements to the ranch home down the road. All those plans went out the window when they first set foot into the newly listed 4,400-square-foot house that would soon become theirs. A combination of Spanish Mediterranean and Italian Renaissance, there was something truly special about this house. Despite some parts that were remodeled in the 80s, it had tons of that old-time charm and character that the family loves, including high ceilings, rounded arches, and large original windows. Needless to say, they decided to take the plunge and leave their ranch house behind. Everything happened amazingly fast — both sales were completed within a week thanks to hard work and a bit of luck!

It has been nine years since Sharlene along with her husband Kevin Dorse, a trial lawyer, and daughters Joelle and Jenna, moved into their beautiful 11-room house. On top of volunteering for a nonprofit organization serving at-risk youth, tutoring elementary-age children and mentoring, Sharlene is also a maker and stylist and the creative force behind the family’s art-filled and eclectic haven of a home. “We wanted our home to feel welcoming and have an artistic and whimsical feel. We also wanted it to be the hangout place for our kids and their friends,” Sharlene shares. It is safe to say that Sharlene and her family have been able to create just that — a warm and inviting home that you simply don’t want to leave.

Sharlene has tastefully mixed flea market finds, antiques, bohemian decor and natural materials. Each room is more creative than the next, and surprises you with delightful details, inspiring colors and plenty of texture. Sharlene also loves to swap pieces around between rooms, which means that most spaces tend to get periodic transformations and mini makeovers. She swears by colorful Kantha quilts, the easiest and quickest way to change the look of a room in less than five minutes. For the most part, the house is just the way Sharlene and her family like it, though a little kitchen update may be coming up in the future. “The thing with evolutionary design is, it will never be done!” Sharlene adds.

Besides the creative and eclectic decor, what makes the Kayne-Dorse residence truly unique is the art. Sharlene’s own artwork, from colorful portraits to amazing newspaper weavings, can be found throughout the home. In addition, Sharlene and her family have collected special pieces by other artists during the years, and together they make up a tasteful yet quirky collection. The end result is an aesthetically imaginative home full of personality — a place that truly inspires and amazes with its artful and laid-back feel. Once you’ve toured this home, odds are you’ll want to go right back and click through it again! — Sofia

Interior photography by , family portrait by

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The sitting room was originally a formal dining room that didn’t get much use. Sharlene decided to turn it into a sitting room and now it has become a family favorite. Throughout the house, Sharlene’s bohemian and creative style is the perfect backdrop for her family’s unique art collection. Here, the whimsical statement piece is a portrait of the Queen by . On the other side of the doorway, Sharlene placed a headless metal body frame under a portrait by .
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The sitting room’s love seat is the preferred hangout place for both people and pets. Sharlene loves to mix different textures to create warm and inviting spaces — the Tulu rug, Moroccan wedding blanket and pillows are all finds. The large arched window that opens up to the garden is one of many architectural details that made Sharlene and her family fall in love with their 1920s house.
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The face on the planter is one of Sharlene’s many DIY projects. She formed the facial features out of automotive epoxy and attached them onto an existing pot, then painted it white.
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From time to time, Sharlene enjoys transforming spaces by moving pieces between rooms and adding new ones to the mix. One of her latest finds is this set of artist made papier maché legs that she found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market. Together with one of her own paintings, the legs create an eccentric detail in the sitting room. The furry armchair is another unique and imaginative piece - Sharlene had the vintage chair reupholstered with a flokati rug from IKEA!
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The dining table in the kitchen seats several guests when needed and is also a good place for an occasional game of Rummy Cube. Two large Scandinavian-inspired terrariums from create a simple and modern centerpiece. The “Halo" art on the wall, made of melted graphite by artist , along with the "Tree of Life" wood carving that Sharlene brought back from Kenya, are just a few pieces of art found in this room.
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Sharlene purchased these vintage New York subway signs on eBay shortly after seeing a similar one in the movie "Monster-in-Law." The mid-century dining chairs have been refinished with lacquer for a contemporary feel.
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Sharlene with her husband Kevin and daughters Joelle and Jenna.
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The family room sectional from Restoration Hardware is not off-limits to pets — dogs Barley (pictured) and Rosie along with cats Eloise, Tuco and Phoebe are all frequent nappers. The large coffee table is made from pieces of an old ship and was purchased in Paris. On top of it lies by Justina Blakeney, a go-to book for inspiration, among others.
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Rescue cats Phoebe and Tuco enjoy the art room, where Sharlene makes pieces for her own home as well as her . She had the built-in drawers made to house all her art supplies. “Over the years I have taught myself soldering, jewelry making, paper collage, photography and hand tinting prints, paper weaving and painting,” Sharlene shares. Like her mother, who was a gifted "maker" before the term existed, Sharlene makes art for art’s sake. “With having no formal art training, there are a lot of misses. That's okay though, because I just like the process of creating,” she explains.
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The newspaper weaving is one of Sharlene’s pieces and is based off a picture of Alfred Hitchcock. “The weaving contains strips of newspapers from Los Angeles, as well as newspapers collected from trips to New York, Paris, and Israel,” she reveals. The lower half of the gallery wall has been painted in
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Sharlene’s bug paintings can be found around the house, and some are available in her .
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The walls in the main floor bathroom have been finished in light grey Venetian plaster. The Chinese Maio crown is one of many finds from the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
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Windows on three sides allow the master bedroom to be flooded with light during the day. Tuco the cat purrs away on a neutral Tulu rug from Etsy. Sharlene loves to mix things up, and often changes the look of the room by throwing a different Kantha quilt on the bed.
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Sharlene bought the vintage brass Sarreid chest on Etsy, but for years she was unable to find a matching one for the other side. Finally she found one at an online auction, bid on it and won! The vintage alabaster lamp is another find from the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
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One of the only available wall spaces in the master bedroom has been assigned to a Mona Lisa painting, made by a student of Andy Warhol. Sharlene and Kevin bought the piece at a local auction for “less than the price of the frame, which is how the auctioneer promoted it.”
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When the house was built in 1927, the downstairs guest room was intended to be the master bedroom — the second floor master bedroom was added later on. Sharlene used the same colors as in the original fireplace tiles to paint the artwork above the armoire.
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Another piece inspired by the guest room’s fireplace hangs above the bed. The previously four-poster frame was Sharlene’s growing up and was found by her mother in the garbage.
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The guest bedroom received a quick makeover when it was used as a trial run for Jenna’s college dorm room. The Kantha quilt was Jenna’s pick on Etsy, and she also gave Sharlene specifications for the painting above the bed. This makeover is a perfect example of how swapping textiles and decorations can completely change the look of a room!
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In Joelle’s room, Sharlene carried out her daughter’s vision of a black, white and neutral color scheme. The newspaper weaving valances that she made add an artistic touch, as does the floor lamp from , made of repurposed convert belt parts.
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“What I love most about our house is it will never be done” — Sharlene
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Plan of the Kayne-Dorse family’s two-story house.

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