An Entrepreneurial Duo's Light & Airy Los Angeles Rental

An Entrepreneurial Duo's Light & Airy Los Angeles Rental

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Marisa Vitale
Jul 11, 2017

Name: Dina Epstein and Michael "Frosti" Zernow
Location: Century City, Los Angeles
Size: 2000 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months, renting

Bi-coastal and bold, Dina and Frosti wear many hats. The duo started Clark and Madison together, a locally sourced, hand-crafted, heritage leather goods company based in Los Angeles. In addition, Dina is working on a New York start-up business of "maudern" sex products called Maude, and Frosti works for a freerunning brand named Tempest. For this Los Angeles rental home, they designed a light and bright space sprinkled with sentimental goods (and some of their own companies' beautiful pieces) to house their personal and professional worlds under one roof.

On first glance the home seems simple and even a little minimal. The living room features a neutral color palette. Seating is soft and over-stuffed for comfort. And bright light floods the space from big windows. But the real magic of this couple's home is in the details: Look a little closer to find trinkets from their travels, family heirlooms, quirky old props and more.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: We started a design company together and began producing heritage inspired leather goods and in the process began amassing merchandising props and unique furniture that we placed as displays or for sale in different pop-up shops we created. When we moved into this place we just emptied out our storage unit and turned it into our home.

Inspiration: Under the previous owners this building was a halfway house so there were a lot more people living in here than there are now. It also means that a lot of things were converted or specially designed for this space. It was important to us to keep the house open with good flow from one room to the next. So by keeping the space light, bright, and clean I think we achieved that.

Favorite Element: Frosti: For me it is definitely the bar. I always feel like people come together there, whether they are drinking or not. There's a good energy in the space and lots of places to sit so I guess that helps, too.

Dina: The outside patio. Having a place to feel the sun on your face, sip your coffee in the morning, or have lunch with a friend just makes the whole house feel bigger. I also love adding new plants to the mix.

Biggest Challenge: Fitting all our furniture! We didn't want the house to feel cramped or cluttered but also wanted to use all the great pieces we have.

What Friends Say: Our friends always say they love being here. Maybe it is because there is always delicious food out and drinks flowing...I don't know haha. We do welcome it when someone asks for some help with deciding on what couch to get or how to redo their backyard. It is so much fun to get to help on those projects.

Biggest Embarrassment: Our biggest embarrassment is probably our closets. We use them as product storage as well as for our personal items so it's hard to get everything organized...and super easy to just close the door and forget about any mess!

Proudest DIY: The Osso chairs we designed for Clark & Madison. I worked with a friend to make the frames, sourced the materials ourselves, and found a leather artisan to do the hand stitching. It was our first furniture project and we are very proud of it. After that it is the live-wood slab table in the living room.

Biggest Indulgence: The art. Art brings so much personality into your home and the pieces we have speak perfectly to the tone and vibe of the space. My favorite piece is the Fritz Scholder hanging in the living room. My mom generously passed it on to us and every time I look at it I feel some clarity.

Best Advice: 1. If you are on a budget go after floor models for your furniture. You will get high-quality pieces at a great price and more often than not they don't need that much work before they look like new.

2. Don't get stuck on how things traditionally should look. Maybe your living room isn't centered around the fireplace, the dishes are not in the kitchen cabinets, and your dining room table is a picnic table...Play around and see what looks interesting! You might be pleasantly surprised!

Dream Sources: We love to vintage shop. If we can find something that has a story behind it then all the better. Long Beach Flea and Santa Monica Antique market are nice. Restoration Hardware is great for larger pieces. I love stores like Tortoise on Abbot Kinney for smaller household items and places like Echo Park Craft Fair where you can find beautiful pieces by local artisans. Otherwise my dream sources would be Morocco for rugs and towels, Jenggala in Bali for all dishes and kitchen supplies, and an old barn or church I can re-imagine. I also love HD Buttercup for furniture and inspiration.

Resources:

We inherited the two large water pots in the dining room. The pots were used to collect water in river beds. You would lay the pots down and when they filled with water they would stand up and be full of water. I think they are from Mexico but I am not sure.

LIVING ROOM
Our sofas are craigslist finds and one is a hand-me-down. We just refinished them with white slip covers. You can take off the slip covers and wash them so it is great.

The crates are from a melon company that was going out of business. We bought eight of them for nearly nothing and use them as side tables, to move things, center pieces, everything! You can get wooden crates at places like World Market.

The concrete coffee table is from my mom. She has had it forever. The color is great and it is super easy to clean up.

The skull is from a trip through the Southwest up to Idaho. We find so many great things on road trips.

The black leather balls are from leather scraps that we just tied together and wrapped into balls. We made a bunch in a variety of sizes and use them in displays for tables and around the house. It was just fun to work on it together. They would have been in the trash otherwise!

The large wooden bowl is a hand carved Hungarian dough rolling bowl we got at the Long Beach Flea.

One mirror was already on the wall but the large one on the side we inherited from our last place. It was so big the owner didn't want to move it out so we said they could leave it if we could take it when we moved out. They agreed and we brought it here with us. Mirrors can transform spaces and change the whole way that light and color shape a room. I love mirrors in homes. The last place we lived had the huge mirror currently in our entrance way. The couple in our last place didn't want to move it because it is SO big and SO heavy. I had to take it with us; it was a pain. But it opens up the space and feels like a piece of art.

DINING ROOM
Restoration Hardware Flatiron Collection table — Restoration Hardware

Ikea Shelf for dishes — (We found cheap on Craigslist so we didn't have to put it together!) - Ikea

Director Chairs (you can get them in any wood grain and the fabric is a variety of colors) — Pier 1 Imports

Mexican water pots — passed down in the family by my mom

The rug under the table was a huge piece we had handed down from my mom. We cut it to fit the space! I think that rug has been cut maybe six times now to fit different spaces.

BAR ROOM
Vintage Theater Seats — found on Craigslist from a guy that found them in the attic of an old Cambodian church. We only got four of them but he had over 70 chairs.

Vintage foldable bar — found at the Santa Monica Airport Antique Market

Red handwoven rug — from Turkey

The big art piece on the wall was because we had so many picture frames left from one of our stores and I wanted to use them for something. I blew up a photo from the '60s I really loved and printed a bunch of pieces of it at Fed-Ex and made it into one of my favorites pieces in the house.

Most everything in this room is vintage, found, or given to us. It really adds to the classic speak-easy bar feel. Perfect for this room. The small vignette under the photo frame is a mix of heirloom from both of our families including my great-grandfather's reading glasses and Dina's grandfather's pocket knife.

Dina's grandfather use to play the trumpet and the other musical instruments we have in the bar area.

DECK
Picnic table — I have had this table for nearly 10 years. It was a floor sample at Tumbleweed and Dandelion in Venice, California. They make them in five different lengths and are great for dinner parties. We used it as our dining room table for a number of years.

Double Chaise Lounge — We found this at the Santa Monica Antique Market. It is a great flea market because it is small and manageable! The cushions were an old green so we recovered them with a natural canvas that can be washed and then air dried.

Plants are mostly from Hashimoto Nursery on Sawtelle Blvd in LA.

Lanterns — from the LA flower mart downtown. You can find them at multiple places there and ask for a deal if you want a bunch.

BEDROOM
Vintage 100 year-old chest found on Craigslist. The lady was moving and just didn't have the space for it anymore. It makes for great storage.

All the bedding in our home is from Matteo Home. They make everything here in LA and have a wonderful variety of colors and materials. If you sign up on their website you can catch one of the sample sales and get a great deal!

Stand up mirror — Tumbleweed and Dandelion
Lamps — target
Cubes (they make the perfect bench and hide my underwear) — target

BATHROOM
Turkish towels — We buy Turkish towels for everything! They are great to wrap yourself in if its chilly, the bathrooms, the beach, a throw for the couch. I got ours on Etsy
Ladder — from my grandfather. It is a great display piece.

OFFICE
Our office table was handmade in Mexico; Dina's mom found it on a trip there years ago and it's one of our favorite places to share a cup of coffee as the sun comes through midday.

The large section of wood we got for $10 at a barn sale in McCall, ID.

The bench is actually a shoe rack that we repurposed. The rack actually can adjust to lay totally flat. Our friend Todd gave it to us as a gift when we launched our first pop up.

Jonathan Livingston Seagull is my dad's copy he used to read to me when I was a kid. I have a lot of books, and I'm always giving them away or donating them but there are a few, mostly gifts, that I've kept over the years.

The T-shirts are our shirts from the Women's March. We got married suddenly with a bunch of friends in LA so we were having a party with our family in Marin that weekend. Dina and I didn't want to miss it so we took the train over to Oakland to march. It was a really powerful experience and I think it made that day feel even more special for both of us.

Thanks, Dina!


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