How to Make Your Home Feel Like California According to K Shan Design

by Trina Hendry

When I moved to California, instead of starting from scratch I decided to ship all of my personal belongings and furnishings from Toronto to Los Angeles. I did this because I am a minimalist and still love most of the décor I had purchased for my little townhouse. But also, I am a big believer in not being wasteful and while I could have sold or donated everything, I thought why spend money on brand new when the "old" stuff was still in great condition and relatively on trend?

Now that Spring has sprung I feel a giant itch to reenergize my space and make it feel more "SoCal." Whether that translates into beachy, boho, mid-century or tropical remains to be seen but I promise to show the "before and after" in an upcoming post. In the meantime, it got me thinking about how I, or anyone else regardless of where they live, could infuse some "casual California" living  into their homes.

I reached out to Costa Mesa-based interior designer Kelly Shannon of K Shan Design for some tips, tricks and inspiration. I first became aware of Kelly when her gorgeous 1940's California bungalow was featured in Apartment Therapy earlier this year. Born in Pasadena, raised in the artsy coastal town of Laguna Beach, and having lived in San Francisco, Kelly draws her inspiration from the laid-back quirky lifestyle that make California unique, as well as the sheer beauty of coastal California, incorporating natural elements like wood, plants and greenery, and color into her overall design aesthetic.

"Californians are generally known for being a little bit ‘out there’ compared to the rest of the country. We love to mix up beachy with boho, modern with casual, artsy with mid-century."

I chatted with Kelly about the hottest interior design trends in California right now, how to inject a California vibe into your current décor, and where to shop for the must-have accessories without breaking the bank. 

All photos in this post are courtesy of K Shan Design

All photos in this post are courtesy of K Shan Design

How do you describe California décor?

Californians are generally known for being a little bit ‘out there’ compared to the rest of the country. We love to mix up beachy with boho, modern with casual, artsy with mid-century. We truly can’t be defined to a category because California is so uniquely different from city to city, which is what makes it so amazing. 

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You grew up in SoCal. How has that inspired and influenced your design aesthetic?

The beauty, eccentricity, and creativity of California inspires me constantly. I was born in Pasadena, which is very traditional, and grew up in Laguna Beach, which is incredibly eclectic. When you drive from LA to San Diego or San Francisco to Sonoma, it’s a completely different vibe. I love how no matter where you live in California, individuality is encouraged. I love to help make my clients homes become uniquely their very own. 

What are the hottest trends in California interiors right now?

Rope… It’s so hot right now. As well as colorful kitchen ranges, cement tile, shiplap, and wood…. So much wood! 

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California is a state of mind. How can someone can add that California vibe into their space regardless of where they live, and without breaking the bank?

Well first, you must juice cleanse. Just kidding (I couldn’t resist). Think casual and laid back but put together, and design your space to be bright and light with pops of color to a neutral palate. For instance, hang white linen cotton curtains from a thin matte black curtain rod, make your bedroom undone-chic with linen bedding, add wood accents, house plants and indoor trees, and a few pieces of funky décor and/or art that you love to help you get into the California state of mind. 

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Do you have a favorite color palette for achieving that quintessential California look?

White, black, stone, woods and greens are all such staples in a California home. If you start with that color palate, you’ll be well on your way West. 

What are your favorite California-inspired home accessories?

My personal favorites are indoor trees and plants in fun baskets or planters to bring spaces to life; oversized pillows for that Cali comfort; and lots of art on the walls to create a more intimate living space.


Outdoor living is a big part of the California lifestyle. What tips do you have for creating an outdoor oasis?

Flow your indoors into your outdoors by using similar colorways and plants. Your space will feel not only bigger but even cozier. Also, you also can’t go wrong outdoors with succulents, a vegetable garden, and butterfly chairs around a fire pit for that California outdoor oasis vibe. 

Where do you like to shop for California-inspired decor?

Besides consignment and vintage shops, Urban Outfitters Home, CB2 and One Kings Lane are all great places to find design inspo and stylish home décor. Urban Outfitters Home is a go-to for boho inspo and affordable finds. They’re currently selling The Marte Furniture Collection, which is not only budget-friendly, but also fits that California-casual vibe. CB2 has really smart furniture and décorthat could really go with any home anywhere, but it has California-edge (which I love). And One Kings Lane is filled with design inspo and fabulously unique furniture finds.

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Describe your perfect Saturday in SoCal.

Going to the beach, being on or in the water, taking the train to San Diego, dining with friends in LA, going camping, hiking, you name it… We’re so incredibly lucky because our options are endless!

For more California décor inspiration, check out Kelly's website, K Shan Design, and follow her on Instagram and Pinterest.