Wall Street Journal contributor Kelly Marages takes a look at how Los Angeles-based design studio Nickey Kehoe appeased its clients' modern tastes after they made a surprising purchase of a 1930s-era "Storybook"-style house.

The firm, which was tasked with applying a modern aesthetic to the home's interior, elected to bridge the two contrasting styles rather than juxtapose them.

In the dining room, the team gave the wood-paneled walls a more minimal look with Benjamin Moore’s Simply White in eggshell. They then supplemented the clients’ existing pieces—an Alex Katz print and midcentury George Nakashima cherry credenza—with modernist elements that read more warm than stark, plus a 21st-century dining table and a couple of wild cards, like the Rococo-style frame at right and a Victorian carved plant stand.

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