Name: Dave Lefner, artist and Shyla Marlin, actress and writer
Location: The Brewery Art Colony in Downtown LA
Size: 2,000 sq. ft.
Years lived in: 8 years
We have to admit, when we walked into Dave and Shyla's downtown pad, we felt like we were walking onto the set of "BIG". The huge loft is a mixture of eclectic fun (and like their friends claim--we could have stayed all day looking at everything). We first noticed the huge mirror that runs the expanse of the left side of the loft with a giant neon "S" reflecting back at us. And just above our heads hanging from a railing is a Cal Oaks vintage neon sign from Pasadena. Wandering into the center of the loft, a pair of purple velvet fun house couches make the living area feel cozy while staying true to the offbeat vibe. With a loft this big, we love how Dave and Shyla managed to create cozy areas to retreat to after a long day of work.
Our two favorite spots in the huge loft are the kitchen (with its antique window panes acting as a wall) and the bedroom. The kitchen reminds us of a 50's diner with a huge clock, yellow walls, black and white checkered floor and retro fridge. It will take you a while to get through all of the magnets made by Dave. He has laminated bits and pieces of inspiration from magazines and decided to use them as magnets throughout the space--now that's an inspiration board! We're also really digging the bedroom which has another cozy nook as you step off of the stairs. We see Dave's DIY nature at work again in the bedroom. A box spring is stripped down to the skeleton and repurposed as a headboard holding post cards from travels. And a pair of rod iron trellises from Goodwill now function as his and hers closets. See what else Dave and Shyla have up their sleeves in the slideshow, plus get the backstory of the neon signage below!
Our style: It’s kind of difficult to classify our style, but I think I would define it as “Vintage Eclectic”.
Inspiration: Our inspiration starts with different objects from the ‘30s & ‘40s; things like a beautiful steamer trunk, a vintage dress form, an antique Remington typewriter, as well as some old neon signs. It’s the vibe of the individual pieces that inspire the whole.
Favorite Element: The kitchen would probably be our favorite. Over the years, I’ve collected all these old windowpanes of all shapes and sizes. When I first moved in, there was a half wall that acted as a bar top between the kitchen and the rest of the space. I wanted to open it up more so I knocked down the wall and created a wall of windows instead. The engineering of it was tricky, but we’re happy with the result.
Biggest Challenge: Really, the only drawback to our place is keeping the loft cool or warm depending on the season. We’re on the top floor of a old industrial concrete building and our ceilings are close to 25 feet high. Without central air it’s almost impossible to keep that much cubic space the right temperature.
What Friends Say: They never want to leave! It’s a bit of visual overload… but in a good way. There’s so much to look at, they say they could just hang out all day.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our bedroom! It has this awful carpet that we haven’t got around to replacing. We don’t have the bedding we want. And since moving in together we haven’t exactly figured out the organization of all our clothes yet.
Proudest DIY: I think I’m most proud of the interesting painting elements around the loft, especially the entryway. I incorporated 7 colors to interact in a striped design. It took a lot of planning, but it was fun. I love “Scotch 3M Blue Painter’s Tape for Delicate Surfaces”. There’s nothing like the feeling of peeling that tape off to reveal that perfect painted edge!
Biggest Indulgence: I think we splurge most on our Art Collection. Unfortunately, we can’t afford the “biggies” in the Art World, but we try to support the talented lesser-known artists that we respect.
Best advice: Design should be for you, first & foremost; your home is your world. Buy individual things that make you happy, that you respond to on a gut level. When you surround yourself with objects like that, the aesthetic will work itself out.
Dream source: Olde Good Things in Downtown LA that specializes in architectural antiques & artifacts. It’s filled with vintage claw-footed tubs, huge antique chandeliers, enormous carved wooden doors, and the like. It’s awesome!
Furniture: Orange kitchen table and chairs are from a restaurant closing auction. They were white, but I spray painted them orange to go in the kitchen. The thin black filing cabinets are from a company called Mayline that I bought through Global Industrial Supplies. All my artwork are prints on paper, so those drawers are invaluable to me. The antique cabinet filled with lead type is from a woman named Claudia Laub, who was moving to Oregon. Now, Claudia Laub had been doing letterpress printing for the last 30 years or more, and is partially responsible for the resurgence of the art of letterpress since the ‘70s. Ironically, Claudia & I had done a show together a few months earlier at Aardvark Letterpress, another pioneer in letterpress, but had never met. Anyway, she was giving up her letterpress business and was selling/donating most of her equipment. I’ve always had a love of letterpress and it is very similar to my process of block printing. Serendipitously, Shyla & I were lucky enough to purchase 50 drawers of lead type of various sizes & fonts from her. Plus the workbench and all the miscellaneous stuff to be able to hand set & print. We’re so excited to see what we can come up with! Pet bed is from Dogbar.
Accessories: Giant clock in kitchen and rug in living area are from IKEA. Fan in bedroom from Hunter. The "S" and "Cal Oaks" neon signs have a backstory. Years ago, I had an art exhibition at The Museum of Neon Art (MONA) in Downtown LA. I made connections with some great people involved with the museum. The “S” I bought from a neon restorer named James McDemas. The “Cal Oaks” came from the Pharmacy in Pasadena. The city of Pasadena wanted it to be preserved and viewed somewhere, so they were going to donate it to MONA, but the museum didn’t really have a place for it. I heard about it and made a proposal to the city, telling them about the open studio artwalks I have here at the Brewery twice a year, and how hundreds of people come through the loft. So Pasadena decided to donate it to me. Most of the tubing was broken when they delivered it, so it doesn’t light up right now. But we’re going to restore it soon. The other various neon letters on the walls are also from the Cal-Oaks Pharmacy.
Lighting: Bedside lamps are from IKEA
Artwork:. All of the linoleum block prints that you see to the left (when you walk in the loft) running the length of the space are done by me. Vinyl wording (truth and definition of art) were designed by me as well. The big “OH” photo of the back of the Hollywood sign is by Ted VanCleave. The sepia photo of the tree in the dark wood frame is by Mike Pedersen. The metal “Liquor” sign is by David Buckingham. The small painting of the shoes as well as the “Vespa” print is by Kelly Reemtsen. The small painting of the leaves and branches is by Jill Sykes.
Paint: All of the paint is Behr (interior flat) and unfortunately, I don't have the names of the colors anymore.
(Thanks, Dave and Shyla!)