Alan's Retreat In The Hills

Alan's Retreat In The Hills

Bethany Nauert
Jan 2, 2013

Name: Alan Yang
Location: Hollywood Hills — Los Angeles, CA
Size: 2,000 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years — own

Last Summer I had the awesome pleasure of working with interior designer Sally Breer of Commingle Home, where we photographed her clients home in the Hollywood Hills. Alan Yang, a screenwriter for Parks & Recreation, has been enjoying this incredible home for just over a year now.

The home in the hills boasts two bedrooms, three bathrooms, an incredible office... and a speakeasy! Yes, Sally turned a former storage room into a speakeasy-inspired hidden bar, trap door included. Though Alan's home has a wonderful nod to many design traditions and a fun aesthetic, I love that he doesn't take it all too seriously.

In a rad house that has so many incredible elements like the awesome view, the cozy office with a fireplace and the newly remodeled kitchen, it'd be hard to name just one favorite element. Alan remarks, "I really like the porthole mirror in the living room. You can flip a switch on the side, make the mirror disappear and reveal a photograph. The photo is of my mom, my sister and me at my second birthday party. I told my designer to crop my mom and sister out and just leave me in the middle, looking really cute, but she refused. Now I'm glad she did, because it reminds me of how much I love my family."

This home has no shortage of nooks to crawl in and find a comfy cozy spot to take a nap. However that wasn't Alan's main goal at all. He hilariously admits, "I had one goal when designing and furnishing my new house: I wanted a place where I could comfortably sit and eat a burrito at four in the morning. I am proud to say that I have accomplished that goal, and eaten several burritos in the designated place."

Sally Breer was in charge of most of the home's design renovations and piecing together Alan's style in a way that worked for everyday living. Also with a home that truly implores the LA bachelor and lifestyle it's easy to imagine how much the city's influence may have had on the design itself. Alan says "L.A. has a unique mixture of electrifying, star-studded nightlife, breathtaking natural beauty, and quirky ethnic neighborhoods, and I think it's safe to say that soaking all of that in has made me the most important designer of the twenty-first century."

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Alan's words about the house...

My Style: Modern, warm, comfortable. Also, everyone says "eclectic," so I'm going to say "not eclectic." It's the opposite of eclectic. Everything in my house comes from one aisle in the Target on Santa Monica and La Brea. Check it out — it's an awesome aisle.

Inspiration: Southern California. The Park Hyatt Shanghai. The Bowery Hotel in New York. The art of Ed Ruscha. The smell of freshly cut Kentucky bluegrass. The sensation of petting a dolphin. Voicemails. Tangerines. Austrian harpischords. What was the question?

Favorite Element: There's a little bar downstairs that's hidden behind a bookshelf that serves as a secret door. I also plan to use that bar as a panic room, so now I'm screwed if my future robber reads Apartment Therapy.

Biggest Challenge: Filling out this survey, when really I owe everything to my supremely talented designer, Sally Breer.

What Friends Say: They're just blown away that I no longer live in a house with five dudes.

Biggest Embarrassment: I do not deserve to live in a house this nice.

Proudest DIY: The living room fireplace used to be covered in a weird beige marble that made visitors vomit in disgust. Now it has a beautiful reclaimed wood facade that makes visitors vomit in appreciation and awe.

Biggest Indulgence: There are beautiful vintage apothecary bottles from Paris above the bar in the speakeasy room. And with the previous sentence, I've just won the award for "Most Down-to-Earth Man in America."

Best Advice: Hire a designer with impeccable taste. Also, put secret rooms everywhere in your house. They're the best. I have like fourteen secret rooms that I didn't even let you guys photograph. I park my car in a cave in Glendale that connects to my house somehow, I don't even know how.

Dream Sources: As I said, everything in the house, including all my food and clothes and stuff, comes from that one aisle in Target. So I guess "that aisle in Target"?

Resources of Note:

For the resource notes I asked Sally to talk about specific pieces and elements that stood out the most..


    • All paint is Behr • Living room is Fashion Gray • Master bedroom is Burnished Clay


    • Bar cart was a thrift store find- we had it painted white and added vintage hardware from liz's antique hardware.
    • Mirror was a rosebowl score- I had to rewire it- which I did myself- it was an adventure! Haha the photo inside is of Alan as a little kid at his birthday party. (when the light is off it looks like a regular mirror- we loved that when it's turned on there's a more intimate & personal photograph hiding in there)
    • The bench along the stairway- a vintage frame- we had the velvet cushion made for it.


    • Sofa is from Hd buttercup- we had it recovered in Herman miller fabric. I believe the color is "ashes".
    • Rug is from Modern Rugs on La Cienega- he was liquidating his oriental rugs so we ended up getting it for a really great price!


    • Dining table was custom built by a guy up in san Francisco area- he uses all reclaimed materials.
    • Chairs, I'm afraid, are knock off molded Eames - Amazon! We needed something clean and modern but we splurged on the pendants so we had to be conservative on the chairs.
    • The pendants are vintage Raak lights, originally from Amsterdam- purchased from Amsterdam Modern


    • I unfortunately don't know who did the kitchen- previous owners had it done. We, however, took out the wall between the kitchen and the living room to open up the living space. We also put up the wood on the fireplace facade
    • The (colorful framed) prints are actually vintage teaching aids from Uncommon Objects in Austin Texas that we framed! They were so beautiful I thought- they're double sided which made me a little sad to have to lose a side!


    • Chairs are vintage- Rosebowl Flea Market- had them recovered.
    • Pendant light was custom made by a local welder. We took out a big ceiling fan and replaced it with our light to create something that was architectural and that would be a bit more interesting than the usual thing.


    • Desk was a Craigslist score
    • I actually got the vintage pollock chair from my rug cleaner- it was sitting in his office and I spied it one day when I went to pick up rugs that had just been cleaned. It took some major finesse to convince him to sell it to me. It was a major find.
    • The painting above the mantel-It's a quote from David Foster Wallace (one of Alan's favorite authors) I found the big piece at a thrift store and then just used letter decals from the hardware store to spell out the quote.


    • The headboard was actually a coffee table that I bought a while ago- the legs were ugly so i had planned to make a new base for it when I realized Alan needed a headboard! We were on a "guest room budget" (meaning, not the same amount as a master bedroom) so we needed to make the biggest impact with only a few pieces. The actual bedframe is just Ikea.
    • The metal cabinet "credenza" is made of two metal cabinets I found at a flea market. They were used In a garage for tools and had weird paint all over them so we stripped the paint and then I had my welder make a base for them to raise them to normal credenza height and a piece of lacquered wood for the top to make it feel a bit more like one piece. By adding the legs and top we gave it a more modern and less industrial feel.


    • Truthfully it was mainly inspired by Alan's coolness. And I mean that sincerely. He's a social butterfly and kind of the ultimate gentleman. So when I first saw the tiny weird "storage" room it seemed obvious that we made it into a speak easy. Also he was heavily influenced by his time at the Harvard lampoon and in one of our first meetings he was telling me about how magical and secret that building was. We couldn't really incorporate that intimate, dark vibe in the rest of the house because it's such a California house but this was our opportunity to give a nod to the lampoon.
    • About the hidden door- When I was a little kid, we were staying at a family friend's chateau in the south of France and he had (what seemed like) endless secret passages. Hidden doors in the backs of closets that would open to entirely secret rooms. It left a MAJOR impression on my 8year old nerdy self. I'd probably put secret rooms in every house if I could. I don't think i'm alone on this one? Who hates secret doors and passages? No human I know. The original door was glass and for obvious reasons was all kinds of wrong for a secret bar so it was kind of a no-brainer.
    • Lighting is a mix- Edison pendants from Big Daddy's Antiques, Sarafatti chandelier is from HD buttercup and then pendant over game table is vintage flea market.
    • The chairs were all from a thrift store! We recovered in ombré blue velvets.
    • The barstools are vintage Saarinen- I was really jazzed about these!
    • The mirrored shelving above the bar- custom made bar & shelving by Chris Lumpkin Furniture

Thanks, Alan! Also BIG THANK YOU to Sally Breer

(Images: Bethany Nauert)

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