House Tour: Wendi's Pioneer Modern

Los Angeles

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Name: Wendi Weger
Location: Silver Lake Hills
Size: 2032 sq. ft
Years lived in: 5 months, rented

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When Wendi and I met, we were ditching the same interior design course. We chatted on the street and she revealed that she had only just moved here from New York and was putting her home together in Silver Lake. I asked her to send photos whenever it was finished and not 2 months later I had pictures in my inbox that made my mouth fall agape. Not only was her home finished but it was full of character from collections arranged just-so and fantastic vintage and heirloom pieces. Her brand of Pioneer Modern had me hooked:

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Wendi's blend of what she likes to call Pioneer Modern: vintage taxidermy, a vague woodsy or cabin-y feel mixed with mid century furniture, kitschy (in a good way) collections and a certain playfulness, fills her home with character without feeling cluttered or like your favorite grandmother's attic. Clearly shes got talent as a designer but what might speak even more loudly is her willingness to take risks. Take for example the fact that she has been able to fit a 70's inspired reading nook, a nautical style master bath and a mid century bedroom into the same house and make it feel right.

She's also a testament to low impact living. Between digging up great finds at flea markets and antique stores Wendi also finds treasures at White Elephant Parties, tries to buy local and supports small businesses in her community. Wendi is full of wisdom (use baskets!) but perhaps my favorite pearl of wisdom comes from the women in Wendi's family. Read on to find out their tradition in the questionnaire below! And thanks Wendi for sharing your amazing house!

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AT Survey:

My/Our style: I've carried a lot of decor with me from New York and the midwest to California so maybe 'Manifest destiny modern'? No, wait. Too savage. How about 'pioneer modern'.

Inspiration: Rural Wisconsin, experimental film, my grandparents, Silver Lake architecture, Little House on the Prairie, a collection of old Domus magazines.

Favorite Room: The reading nook. It's got this crazy modern Italian chaise in it that I acquired when a Manhattan office I worked in years ago decided to redecorate.

Most Talked About Elements: The work bench as buffet table in the living room, the taxidermy collection, and the mermaid coffee table. I don't think the mermaid fits perfectly here (if only there was room in the 80's hot tub bathroom for her), but we needed a coffee table and she was definitely the most compelling candidate for the position. Plus she's my boyfriend's other girlfriend.

Biggest Embarrassment: Certain built-in design elements like the vertical blinds, fixtures and 80s hot tub skew more toward contempo than modern. However I may have a newfound (if slight) appreciation for horizontal blinds. We have all these irregularly-shaped windows and I marvel at how much time and money was spent custom fitting and installing each set of blinds. They really seem like part of the organism of the house, so for that reason they're growing on me. Same with the tub. Somebody really wanted that thing and carved out a huge space for it. Really the whole 'contemporary' aspect made it easier to think about the space as a blank slate that could accommodate an amalgam of styles, perhaps moreso than a stark modern house would. (Or I might just be trying to make myself feel better because we couldn't find a modernist house in Silver Lake at the time.)

Proudest DIY: I'm considering putting fabric or wallpaper on each individual vertical blind. When I've completed that, it will be my proudest DIY!

Dream piece of furniture: Not sure if it's furniture, but hands down, the fireplace that swivels you into the next room (a study, of course) when you press a secret button. Also, I've always wanted one of those tall, cylindrical Scandanavian antique tile stoves.

Favorite Furniture Stores:I don't usually shop at furniture stores, but I like Lawson-Fenning. One of the owners has a great story about how the business just started organically from a studio he rented where he'd put furniture out for sale to passers-by. It grew into a nice operation: not too big, not too small. They have one store in Silver Lake and one on Beverly so I'm guessing he not only makes money (Beverly) but also gets to hang with the art crowd (Silver Lake). What a life. I also like BDDW in New York, but let's just say all I was ever able to acquire from them was the small circular rug you see in the nook photo; it had been used on a film shoot and needed cleaning, so I got a discount...

Where you shop: I can't tell you, but I do interior design work on a contract basis, and if you hire me, I will get you things from there.

Any cleaning or organizing tips: All the women in my family have hired someone else to clean, no matter how much money they made. Who am I to break their tradition? Re: organizing, get lots of baskets. Store items in the baskets and POOF! You're instantly organized.

Best advice: Find a neighbor who's enrolled in the UCLA Architecture/Interior Design Program, borrow all of the syllabi for his/her classes, and read all the assigned books. Not that that's ANYTHING I would ever do...

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Resources:

I was partially raised by midwestern grandparents who (like most midwesterners and most grandparents) didn't like to waste anything. If I unwrapped a birthday present, I was told to "save the paper". So there's that side of me. It's trendy to say reduce/reuse/recycle, but for me it's just Midwestern grandparent-ism. And of course it shows in my habits as a consumer, i.e.:

Appliances: I try to find new(ish) appliances on Craigslist, like when someone's moving. Why create more stuff when you can use what already exists? Except ceiling fans; old ceiling fans are all gross. See below.

Hardware: I try to support small neighborhood businesses like Baller Hardware in Silver Lake.

Furniture: Lawson-Fenning, BDDW, antique malls, flea markets, estate sales, White Elephant parties (when you swap pre-owned stuff that you don't want anymore, but that someone else might)

Accessories: See above.

Lighting: Vintage lighting on eBay, and I like the ceiling fans at Design Within Reach. Check out: http://www.dwr.com/product/cirrus-hugger-ceiling-fan.do?keyword=ceiling+fan&sortby=ourPicks

Rugs and Carpets: These should come from all over the world, if possible. I have a reindeer pelt from Finland, a Turkish rug, and a branded cowhide from upstate NY. (The animals were vintage, not new, so don't throw paint on me). They're great souvenirs and they give a space, you know, more cultural depth.

Window Treatments: I hate these two words in succession. Descriptors like 'Window Treatments' were invented to legitimize and industrify interior design and, to me, that process removes the creativity and playfulness from it. Anyway, I like vintage curtains with lace, crochet, and/or needlepoint. Preferably those that bear the initials of the woman who made them. These are also great to find abroad, or sourced internationally on eBay. It's dorkily fun to find a textile or linen with something cross-stitched in another language, and then when people come over you translate it for them and seem really smart for a few seconds. Decor should be experiential like that, full of conversation pieces...

Beds: I'd like to commission a platform bed made from log cabin logs that fit neatly into each other's grooves, like Lincoln Logs. Can someone make that for me?

Artwork: From painter friends directly like Kristen Schiele, Philip Vanderhyden, Kime Buzzelli and Elizabeth Huey

(Thanks, Wendi)

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Photos by Amy Crilly