A Storied & Stylish California House Packed with History

updated Feb 19, 2019
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(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Name: Elise and Ben Flashman and their two boys, Buster and Casper
Location: Mount Washington, California
Size: 1,300 square feet
Years lived in: 6 years; owned

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Ben and Elise met in college at University of California, Santa Cruz where their spirits united between being creative artists and working at the Bargain Barn, a truly amazing second-hand, donation-based store that ranged in items of pure trash to pure gold. They settled down in Mount Washington to raise their kids, Buster (6) and Casper (1.5) and continue their talents of finding diamonds in the rough to furnish the place they now call home.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Elise says that when she entered the house, she knew it “was their house.” The quirky spirit of the place and the story of the previous owners were too good to pass up. Ruby and Ray Pinker were the previous owners of the house who lived there for 50 years. The “stage” in the living room is there because Ruby was a dancer and used to hold salons here with other performers and artists. Ray Pinker was one of the founders of the LAPD forensics department and there is a character in both Dragnet and the video game, LA Noir named after him.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

Elise says that she thinks about them and maintaining the integrity of the house with every update they make. Elise is now creative director at Burke Decor, a home goods store based in West Hollywood and Ben works in international fine art and antiques shipping. Elise also features a lot of stylish DIY projects on the Burke Decor blog. With their roots in vintage wares and their current professions with high-end goods, it’s no wonder their house is in impeccable mix of vintage charm and modern elegance. It truly is a one-of-a-kind property.

(Image credit: Marisa Vitale)

See what their kitchen looked like before their renovation! → Before & After: A 1950s Kitchen Finally Gets New Cabinets

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Collector collector / stuff and nonsense

Inspiration: Ruby and Ray Pinker, the previous owners

Favorite Element: The view and the history of the house

Biggest Challenge: So many to choose from but the cesspool and the 40-year-old kitchen were the biggest that are now resolved. Next up, making the flow to the backyard better.

What Friends Say: The view!

Biggest Embarrassment: So. Many. Toys.

Proudest DIY: Burlap window coverings and built in sunroom daybed

Biggest Indulgence: Calacatta Marble countertops

Best Advice: My advice to give: speak up and don’t let contractors bully you into making their job easier. Advice I received: Do as much as you can before you move in. More advice from Elise: Stress-Saving IKEA Kitchen Reno Lessons from a Real Homeowner

Dream Sources: JF Chen, Axel Vervoordt, Mansour, Galerie Half

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Wonderful wooden handmade chairs greet you at the front door, along with wild banana leaves (Image credit: Marisa Vitale)



Benjamin Moore: Chantilly Lace


  • Sofa: Sunbeam Vintage reupholstered in Japanese denim deadstock found at the Rose Bowl Flea market
  • Alky Chairs: some hole in the wall in SF
  • Coffee table : Burke Decor
  • Sectional: inherited from grandparents
  • Sheepskin: Burke Decor
  • Piano: inherited from grandparents
  • Jaguar under piano: vintage, PCC flea market
  • Eames ottoman: Garage sale
  • Bar Cart : vintage place on Valencia in SF
  • Credenza: Sunbeam Vintage
  • Rug: eBay
  • Side tables: garage sales
  • Vases on piano: Burke Decor
  • Photos over credenza: Massimo Vitalli purchased at action: Lamp on
  • Portrait paintings: PCC flea market
  • Lightbox: Elise Irving


  • Dining table and chairs: inherited from grandparents
  • Chief: gift
  • Portrait of woman: Larry Sultan
  • Bookcase: pillaged from parents house
  • Large photo of woman in camo: Elise Irving
  • Lightbox: Elise Irving
  • Lobi Pot: gift
  • Frank Friezatta fan art: Goodwill
  • Paint by number animals: eBay
  • American of Martinsville credenza: Craigslist
  • Brutalist plant/ candle holder: Garage sale



  • Armoire and beside tables: Bali
  • Lamps: William Lipton
  • Chair: Burke Decor
  • Planter: Burke Decor
  • Photo over chair: Jim Goldberg
  • Quilt: Burke Decor
  • Painting: Goodwill
  • Lightbox: Elise Irving
  • Rug: West Elm via Craiglist
  • John Baldassari Pillow Cases: THE THING


  • Toy storage: Ikea
  • Crib: hand-me-down (I think IKEA)
  • bed: Craigslist ( I think Pottery Barn)
  • Foil dragon mobile: the leftovers artist at Gladstones (that seafood place in Malibu where the guy make amazing foil sculptures out of your leftovers. We had him do one with no food in it)
  • Space travel posters: free downloads from JPL & NASA that I printed
  • Topographic map: PCC flea market
  • Lamp: sidewalk sale somewhere in SF
  • Pendant light: Rosebowl flea market
  • Rug: rose bowl flea market


  • Daybed: DIY
  • Pillows: Elise Flashman
  • Poufs: Burke Decor
  • Maps: ebay
  • Art: Buster Flashman
  • Lamp: found
  • See what the sunroom looked like before Elise made it into this magical hang-out space! → Before & After: An Old, Outdated Sunroom Is Transformed into a Dreamy Lounge & Play Space


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