In interiors, we are not fans of subdued and prissy nor decorative and antique-filled. When we saw the first images of the Californian Canyon house restoration by Los Angeles-based interior designer, Carolyn Miller, we almost passed it by.
However, as we do admire skillfully achieved balance in interiors, and almost always place intelligently re-purposed architecture above shiny spanking new, we gave it a more careful look. In the Canyon house, there is a definite, relaxed appeal and an atmosphere of life well-lived that drew us in.
And the more we familiarized ourselves with this large revitalized residence from the 1930s, the more we liked it. The designer achieved a sense of elegance and permanence by revealing the structure’s best features and by creating fresh surroundings for the owner couple’s eclectic mix of art and collectibles, furniture and accessories.
The owners had lived in this house for more than 30 years but Miller convinced them to embrace change while respecting the heritage. This is not a pasted-on facelift, it is a complete rethink, but with a sensitivity to all that the owners wanted to save. The elegant initial character of the house is now clearly visible and the previously dark, small rooms have given way to openness and light. On the canyon side, nature and scenery now seem closer than before and the poolside looks brand new although the restoration has stayed true to the original.
The house’s Arts and Crafts spirit is also still visible in many rooms. In one of the bathrooms and one of the entryways, for example, the wallpaper has all of the hallmarks of Arts and Crafts.
Pieces of the owners’ eclectic collection of American pop and impressionist art occupy an important place in almost every room. These include art by pop artist Edward Ruscha (b. 1937), late abstract and impressionist painter Helen Frankenthaler (b.1928 d. 2011), sculptor Joel Shapiro (b.1941) and painter and graphic artist Robert Rauschenberg (b. 1925 d. 2008). In addition, there are pieces by the Californian impressionist plein-air landscape painter Marion Wachtel (b. 1873 d. 1954) and the surrealist Leo Kenney.
We love the light-filled entrance hall with its black-and-white marble tile floor and graceful staircase. The staircase’s tiger oak treads were restored and new doors of solid mahogany were installed. Dover Ball hanging light by Urban Electric, an Art Deco bench and a vintage console complete the stylish hall.
The Arts and Crafts movement was anti-industrialist decorative and fine arts movement (1880-1920) initiated mainly in Britain and considered to be the precursor of the Art Nouveau movement. The hallmarks were craftmanship, inherent beauty of each material, simplicity and utility. Important features included rough-hewn, nature-inspired aesthetics, often inspired by romantic or folkloric styles.
Brentwood Park is a neighbourhood of the Westside region of Los Angeles. Known to many as the site of the O.J. Simpson crime, the neighbourhood has been home to many celebrities including actors Marilyn Monroe, Joan Crawford, Bea Arthur, Gwyneth Paltrow, Betty White and Reese Witherspoon, musician Alanis Morissette, former U.S. president Richard Nixon, TV host Conan O’Brien and former Governor of California Arnold Schwarzenegger. Tuija Seipell
Images by Sam Frost