“Faded Elegance” in an Echo Park Craftsman

updated Apr 30, 2019

“Faded Elegance” in an Echo Park Craftsman

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Name: Matt Casper and Ted Dorsey
Location: Echo Park — Los Angeles, California
Size: 2,132 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years, owned

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Going to a dinner party at Matt and Ted’s is probably the grown-up equivalent of going to Disneyland. While their dining room alone makes the Haunted Mansion look like child’s play, every room in the house possesses its own unique design that feels both sophisticated and fun. From an office filled with fake pine trees to a New Mexico-inspired guest room, the fun themes throughout their historic craftsman are tasteful, eclectic, and provide the perfect kindling to ignite hours of good conversation.

Both Matt and Ted spend a great deal of time writing and working from their home offices, each of which has its own unique aesthetic. Matt is a licensed psychotherapist and writer who has written a series of books, Emotes, to help children better understand and manage emotions. He chooses to do most of his work from the “forest” room, which is aesthetically somewhere between Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom and Twin Peaks. Here he recently completed his first young adult novel, a story about a teenage boy named Coltrane P. Jones, and his struggles with family, friendship, and the trauma of love and loss.

Ted is the founder of Tutor Ted, Inc., a tutoring company for ACT and SAT prep. He calls his office the most “minimal” of all the rooms in the house, which is outfitted with streamlined industrial mid-century office furniture. In his free time he can be found writing absurdist essays and playing Radiohead on his acoustic guitar.

The spacious two-story Craftsman was built in 1908 by architect Allison Barlow and provides ample space for the couple’s impressive collection of historic artifacts and diverse art pieces, many of which are from their favorite city, New Orleans. Matt and Ted have visited New Orleans together every year since 2010. Many displays throughout their home contain remnants of their travels there, and, as a whole, the house feels rich with history, color, and character, not unlike The Big Easy itself.

Now that the design of their home is complete, the couple’s current venture is traveling in their newly renovated 22-foot long Sprinter van named Julius. Julius’s adventures with Matt and Ted are documented via Instagram.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Faded Elegance (or Whatever Is The Opposite Of Minimalist)

Inspiration: Nature, history, the American West… plus a dash of New Orleans. We have pieces with some wear on them—we both like something beat up better than something brand new. We also have a lot of pieces with life-and-death themes. Nothing too grotesque or anything… just skulls, taxidermy, and dead flowers everywhere. We like the idea of enjoying life while not denying endings; all of that keeps us alert and grateful.

Matt’s Favorite Element: The rocking chair on the front porch. The view from there at sunset is pretty fantastic… listening to WWOZ (90.7FM New Orleans) while sipping a Manhattan makes it all the sweeter.

Ted’s Favorite Element: The dining area outside. The table is big enough to squeeze in 12 people. You can stay there all night, from snacks, to dinner, to wine.

Biggest Challenge: The fine line between cluttered and balanced. Matt gets “visually bored” easily, so we work at aesthetics that make us feel happy and engaged. We rarely buy anything from flea markets anymore—we’ve reached our saturation point for what the house can hold. Now when we get bored or feel overstimulated, we edit or move things around to change the feel of the space. It’s an ongoing project.

What Friends Say: “This is new!” When we have people over, our friends will look around to see what we might have changed. We have an amazing group of friends who are creative and open-minded—and probably too polite to tell us if they don’t like our style.

Biggest Embarrassment: After stripping about 19 layers of paint off the built-in shelving in the dining room (Ted estimates that we spent 200 hours stripping it), we got overzealous and decided to strip the rest of the wood in the room… only to find out that the wood had been patched and even replaced in spots. It wasn’t going to look good once we stripped and refinished it, so we repainted.

Proudest DIY: Stripping those 19 layers of paint on the dining room built-in. We recruited both of our dads to help us with stripping and staining. They were both very patient and we are really happy with how it looks. We like to think it looks like it might have back when the house was built in 1908.

Biggest Indulgence: The cast-iron drawer pulls on the refinished built-in cost more than we paid for our couch. We chose between those and some others that were vintage reproductions. After all the work we put into stripping, we had to go all the way with those handles.

Best Advice: Trust your “feel.” Often we will move things around until we both have a moment of “yep, that’s it” based on how we feel in the room. We both believe that your external space becomes a mirror for your internal mindspace, so it’s a good idea to create a space that makes YOU feel good, not what you think other folks want to see or feel when they’re in it.

Dream Sources: Probably 95% of what’s in the house is found and reused—stuff from flea markets, friends’ basements, even the side of the road. We love searching for lost treasure.


Walls: Farrow and Ball — Joa’s White
Trim: Farrow and Ball — London Clay
Ceiling: Farrow and Ball — Slipper Satin

Antique Arts and Crafts desk — Long Beach Flea Market
Om Sweet Om print — Streets of Udaipur, Rajasthan-India
Micah Lamp — Pasadena City College Flea Market
Edward Curtis Photogravures — eBay

Credenza —Custom — Matters of Space
Kilim Pillows — eBay
Spoon Box — Nick Zammuto, artist
Hanging Sculpture/Painting — Luke Whitlatch, artist

Wallpaper — Bradbury and Bradbury
41 Vintage Framed Prints — Many, many, many flea markets
Louis Moreau Lamp “Le Triomphe” — Santa Monica Flea Market

Hanging Lamps — Barn Light Electric
Marmoleum Tile Flooring — Colors: Rosato and White Marble — Linoleum City
Handmade Subway Tiles — Mortarless Building Supply, Los Angeles
Butcher Block Worktable — John Boos

Reclaimed Wood Bed and Dresser — Crofthouse
Vintage Travel Agency Desert Print — Melrose Flea Market
Dead Manzanita Trees — Flower District, Los Angeles

Reclaimed Wood Bed — Homemade. Reclaimed wood sourced from Silverado Salvage and Design
Crates and Old Steamer Trunk — Rose Bowl Flea market

Custom Book Shelf — Matters of Space
You Have Everything You Need print — Deedee Cheriel, artist
Carl Jung’s The Red Book — Amazon
Taxidermy Toad — Chicago Flea market

Metal Tanker Desk, Chairs, and Lockers — Steel Case, custom powder coated
German Industrial Schematics — Olde Good Things

Toy Deer (named ‘Casey’) — Hansa Toys USA
Artificial Alpine Trees — Vickerman
Stone Rug — Home Depot
Artificial Grass — Home Depot

Thanks, Matt and Ted!

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