Name: Blade & Amy Gillissen
Location: Huntington Beach — Orange County, California
Size: 1,640 square feet
Years lived in: 14 years — owned
When you first open the door to this light-filled space your eyes are likely to roam before they settle on any one thing … there is a lot to take in. From walls filled with original prints by well known photographers to iconic pieces of Mid-Century furniture, the place is filled with vibrant colors and classic forms. Add in a pool table, pinball machine and a model airplane suspended above the dining area and the space takes shape as a quirky original with a sense of humor and a real sense of fun.
Blade and Amy Gillessen live here along with their young daughter. As evidenced by the large collection of photographic prints and the rows of vintage cameras aligning shelves in many of the rooms, Blade teaches photography at Orange Coast College. He and his wife Amy approach décor much the same way they approach life, with an artistic eye, can-do attitude, and levity that transcends "decorating" and allows them to create a welcoming environment that is a natural fit to their active Southern California lifestyle.
A few standout features of the home include the extensive art collection, some of it was purchased but most are from friends, former students or given in trade for personal work. The vintage camera collection, of which Blade says, "Mostly they are gifts, people hear I am a photography teacher and they ask if I would have any interest in their "old camera". It's great when people give me a camera and then come over to the house and see it on display. I mean a lot of people have cameras, but few display them with such pride." And then there's the environmentally friendly landscaping, "After deciding the old weed-infested lawn needed to be replaced, we changed our minds about putting in a new lawn and went with drought-tolerant plantings instead. My wife installed a drip irrigation system and planted things such as blue fescue, New Zealand flax, and Kangaroo Paw. So far it has been almost no maintenance and it's one less area I have to mow on the weekends."
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Modern miscellaneous.
Favorite Element: Nine skylights give us tons of light and the open floor plan and vaulted ceilings make the space feel bigger.
Biggest Challenge: Getting two cars into my two car garage. The bikes live on the front porch.
What Friends Say: Well...people love it or hate it. I can tell right away by the way someone reacts to the pinball machine in the kitchen. I mean, they all say the same thing, "Oh, you have a pinball machine in your kitchen". But it's the way they say it. It's one of those things, if you have to ask why....
How You Describe it: Honestly, it's just us, for better or worse. I like to call it "modernish on a budget."
Biggest Embarrassment: Front bathroom. It has glass block, grey porcelain and gold fixtures.
Proudest DIY: Grey tile floor. It's 18" x 18" tiles and it covers the front room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom and hallway. It took us about a month, but it came out really nice.
Biggest Indulgence: Koi pond.
Best Advice: Don't be afraid to do it yourself.
Dream Sources: Friends and family. All the cool stuff in my house was inherited or given as gifts. My grandparents had a great sense of style.
Resources of Note:
• Plexiglass Front Door : DIY
• Address sign: Gift from the artist, Don Jennings
• Console in entry: Gift from friend
• Slot machine: Gift from parents
• Enlarger frame (on wall): Gift from friend
• Pool table: Bought new from Brunswick
• Dartboard: Bought new about 20 years ago
• Orange chair: Inherited from grandparents
• Round Red Rug: Ikea
• Tv stand: Ikea
• Dining chairs + table: Bought off Craigslist
• Arc lamp: Inherited from grandparents
• Pinball machine: Gift from father
• Model plane: Picked up at an auction