A "Modern Meets Grandma" California Craftsman

A "Modern Meets Grandma" California Craftsman

Jessica Isaac
Sep 24, 2016

Name: Alison, Bob, and Angus Masey
Location: Highland Park — Los Angeles, California
Size: 600 square feet
Years lived in: 5 years; rented

Alison and Bob's mini Craftsman may be petite, but it's loaded with warm and fuzzy anecdotes. Whether given or found on the side of the road, every single item inside seems to have fatefully found its way there without being sought out, and each one with a great story to boot. From the pink velvet chairs in the living room to the corner bookshelf behind the dining table, this couple has no lack of conversation starters or generous (and talented) artistic friends.

My favorite story they told me is about the pink velvet chairs that represent Alison's self-proclaimed "grandma" sensibilities. The chairs are from the home of photographer Bootsy Holler's grandparents and also a prop in her incredibly moving series "Ruby & Willie."

The images capture the time capsule that was her grandfather Willie's home — left untouched since the death of her grandmother Ruby in 1978. The chairs now reside in Alison and Bob's living room, juxtaposed with a closeup from the series of the chairs' wood carvings.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Obviously we like a modern look, but we never want our space to feel stark. Alison can veer a little grandma, and Bob's modern sensibilities help balance us out. We're definitely not going for catalog perfect. We like to add in items that don't quite make sense (our pink chairs) to keep it from being stale.

Inspiration: Our biggest inspiration is adulthood. Bob spent a lot of years living with roommates in punk houses in DC. And Alison spent 7 years living in a 300 sq. ft. studio in Seattle, that looked like grandma's attic. We're both shocked that we've reached a point in our lives where we are making grown up decisions like buying new furniture, not just using whatever we found on the side of the road (although we did find our current dining room table in the alley behind Bob's old house.)

Other inspirations to note: Alison's best friend Laura, who designed the living room remotely from Seattle and lives in a stunning A-frame on Lopez Island. And Travel: the pillows at the Ace Hotel rooftop bar, Korakia Pensione, Tulum Mexico, Pioneer Town.

Favorite Element: We love that we've figured out a way for the home office to double as TV lounge by repositioning the rolling desk. A TV is tough to design around.

Alison: I love all the pink. I don't know if Bob realizes how much pink is in our house. I'm always trying to sneak it in in different ways.

Biggest Challenge: Our landlady made a lot of great choices in the renovation process but we struggle with the eye-popping green tile in the shower. We've tried several strategies — mute it with neutral-colored shower curtain and towels, or lean into it with pop art colors — but it's tough to wrangle.

What Friends Say: How are you going to have a kid in this house? Both because we try to avoid clutter and it's TINY. We have no idea.

Biggest Embarrassment: It's what we refer to as "the Ugly Chair." It's a gold velour, stuffed swivel rocker, and it is ugly… but I swear to you it is the most comfortable piece of furniture on the planet. When guests see its hideousness, we actually make them sit in it and they inevitably agree. It feels wonderful. And we will never get rid of it. Even though it doesn't go with anything and even a clever reupholstering probably wouldn't improve it much. But we're open to ideas. Anyone have suggestions?

Proudest DIY: Our outdoor couch. Outdoor furniture is crazy expensive and often hideous. We built our outdoor couch in an afternoon from redwood lumber, deck screws, and coffee-colored stain. It cost about $130 to build. Then we found cheap attractive cushions online (WalMart) that we weatherproofed with ScotchGard.

Biggest Indulgence: Our coffee table. It's probably the most expensive piece we've bought together. Bob had a vison of the perfect table: glass top because it's a small space, with a base that was attractive, and we found it at Sunbeam Vintage so we went for it. We've never been sorry.

Best Advice: Don't think a functional space can't be stylish. We didn't even attempt to make Bob's office look good until recently. We had a ton of books and gear, and we really needed a space to just stash crap. We ended up re-working our closet storage space to accommodate a lot of what was laying around, which freed up space for us to be creative. And we finally decieded on a wall color. That took about 4 years.

Dream Sources: We really love for the objects in our house to have meaning, so our dream sources are really our talented friends. Artists, photographers, furniture makers, quilters, ceramics artists. Our dream is to be able to pay them what they deserve for their incredible work.

Thanks, Alison and Bob!

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