A Designer's Dramatic Mural-Filled California Home

A Designer's Dramatic Mural-Filled California Home

Jordana Longo
May 24, 2017

Name: Jared Frank
Location: Casa Larissa in Silverlake, Los Angeles
Size: 1000 square foot apartment
Years lived in: 7 years, renting

Jared Frank is the interior designer behind Topsy Design, and floats between New York and Los Angeles transforming residential and commercial spaces. He chanced upon Casa Larissa — a one-of-a-kind apartment— when attending an estate sale. The previous tenant, fresco artist Lance Klemm, used the space as his canvas. Stepping inside this theatrical, bohemian enclave feels like transporting to another time and place entirely.

Take a video tour of Jared's apartment:

Jared also makes a point to emphasize that this apartment is rent stabilized.

"I'm a firm believer in reasonable tenant's rights, and one of the beautiful things about rent stabilization is that you can actually invest in decorating and repairing your rented home as though you own it. As it allows you to predict what your rent will be ten years from now, and plan accordingly. We often assume that we must live like students until we can finally afford to buy, and only then do we begin decorating like adults. I'd love to see more renters feel safe to invest in their home and community."

Jared uses his apartment for much more than a place to rest his head, (it would be a sin not to), graciously sharing the space with friends and strangers alike: The painted walls, floors and ceilings set the stage for his house shows. For announcements and upcoming shows stay tuned to his Instagram @jrdfrnk.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Bohemian eclectic

Inspiration: The trompe l'oeil frescoes by Lance Gaylord Klemm, the previous tenant

Favorite Element: Same answer as above.

Biggest Challenge: Same answer as above. Ha. Without a doubt the murals are what make the apartment and define its look. My decor is a conversation with them, a dialogue. But of course their dominance is also a challenge, which is one of the reasons I find my bedroom, which completely lacks them, and is painted white and beige, such a great respite.

What Friends Say: Where do you keep the bodies? My answer, the closets, there are many.

Biggest Embarrassment: The closets. I keep the house neat, because anything this maximalistic-ally designed can't stand any additional clutter. But I often allow the closets to bear the burden, and over time they grow jam packed with the collections that I don't have on display. Then every few months, I organize them, declutter, and then little by little they revert back to chaos. Entropy!

Proudest DIY: The bagatelle game that I rewired to turn into a wall lamp and that serves as a backdrop to the concerts and performers I host in my home. Most recently, Rob Zebrecky, the famed magician.

Or the brass and velvet sofa I designed. It's the first piece of furniture that I've ever designed from the ground up. A great learning experience. And the backrest, which is lifted on brass poles, can be swapped out, so you can change its size and shape.

Biggest Indulgence: Gosh. Isn't the entire place just a layer cake, a bon bon, a rich morsel to be savored? But if I have to pick one thing, I'd say the gilt mirror and golden chandelier in the dining room. I'd never dare purchase gilded Hollywood Regency items like this, if they didn't go so well with Lance Klemm's design. If I ever move, I'm sure they'll have to be sold, because where else do they belong except here or in Liberace's re-staging of Beauty and the Beast? The other great indulgence, though it barely whispers, let alone shouts, are my linen sheets and bedding. Once you buy quality linen bedding, you'll never ever consider cotton again. Game changer.

Best Advice: Stop trying to express yourself. Instead, express the architecture of the place you call home. People always make the mistake of thinking this home is "me." I'm an interior designer by trade, and if you look at my work, you'll find a diversity of aesthetics. There is no "real me." And there is also no good or bad genre of design. (No matter what the international style modernists would have you believe.) There's only what works in your particular home and what doesn't. Be sensitive to the architecture, the landscaping around it, and the neighborhood you are a part of. It's not individual pieces that matter, but how they add up. Think holistically, not individually.

Someone once said to me, "I have to love everything in my house or I won't buy it." I've seen homes like that, a ton of incredible accent pieces that don't go well together, that don't relate to the architecture, that don't add up. Well I can tell you that I don't "love" everything in my house, but I do love everything that is "in" my house. These items belong here. They might not be so great somewhere else. When I'm shopping with clients or friends, they'll often point to a chair and ask, "do you like it?" My response is always the same, "it depends on where it's going." I don't have a favorite color and neither should you.

Dream Sources: Axel Vervoordt's Belgian castle, Kasteel van's-Gravenwezel. I don't know if he still sells out of it. But the story someone told me is that early in his career he'd stage elaborate installations in it with his museum -quality antiques and one could tour the rooms and purchase treasures right out of them.


The Topsy letters — sourced from a dealer in Chicago
Decorative Ecuadorian Masks — my travels
Goliath Mask — Vintage

Lounge chair frames were found at the Long Beach Flea and were
part of a set that I purchased. I upholstered it using leather scraps leftover from another project. When appropriate, I don't mind purchasing animal products (life is death is life is death) especially from traditional sources, but I refuse to waste anything.

Pillows — I custom made from embossed vintage leather I found at
the LA Downtown Modernism Flea and combined with dress fabric I
purchased from a friend, whose clothing line, Tigra Tigra, uses custom
textiles made for her overseas via traditional methods.

Sofa is also from the Long Beach Flea. The suitcases were picked up at various junk shops, but of course selected because their colors match the floor. Viewers at home take note, one of the cheapest ways to make a table is to stack three hard cases on top of one another.

Pendant light from the Long Beach Flea is an old gramophone horn that's been repurposed. Waste not, want not.

Frederick Weinberg style hoop chair was designed to have a cloth cover (SNOOZE) but I upholstered it in leather scraps to match the rest of my living room set. I love using patio furniture indoors. Especially with my busy floors, it's important to have furniture that is lifted and open underneath so it doesn't interfere with the dizzying patterns.

Sconces are from Italy and purchased on etsy. I highly recommend that folks hang less pictures and more lights on their walls. You don't need to in-wall wire, just run a cord from an electrical outlet and include a dimmer switch like I do.

The Bird is actually a hat from Brazil. And looks quite good when tried on.

Folk art mirror frame is from etsy. The hard part was finding a glass shop that still did hand beveling as I wanted the bevel to curve along the edges of the frame. Finally found guys in Paramount, California, G&A Glass, after a little hunting. It's details like that that make the difference.

Cicadas — an ex girlfriend plucked the cicada skeletons off a tree in her grandparents yard and then pinned them to my wall. So when I found the large wooden cicada carving on ebay I knew that I had to have it. I love mixing the real with the fake, the size-appropriate with the gigantic.

Glowing wooden wall sconce was made by Sam Lights, a real talent.

Antique specimen slides found on ebay

Horse head skeleton found on ebay.

A 2D UK bus map seems to become a pile of 3d street signs from Long Beach Flea. I enjoy how the 2D turns into 3D, once again, a dose of surrealist magic. The real becoming the fake...transformations and alchemy.

The table is an old cutting board I found at a flea market, resting on top of
iron pillars that I found at pasadena salvage.

Little sofa — I designed that little sofa from scratch. A great learning
experience. Brass kick and the circular back rest is lifted up by
solid brass poles.

Exotic Hollywood Regency gilt mirror with insects and birds purchased at Billings Auctions in LA.

The Alabaster Lamp Bases were purchased on ebay/etsy and then I separately purchased the capiz shell shades from similar sources. As you can tell by now, I like combining things that weren't meant to go together, but do.

The gilt plaster chandelier is by Sirmos.

Large pillow in the back I had made from an amazing fabric I found at a flea.

The Table is a campaign table that folds up. The legs accordion, and then the top folds around them until the entire thing is an easy to transport box.

The African mask is from my travels.

Wall Sconce is in a "coral" style so it was probably once painted red/pink but by the time it found its way to me from a flea, it was black.

My bed linens — Matteo Linens in downtown LA.
Wool camping blanket — vintage.
Light — Sam Jacober's, she is also open for custom commissions.
Bedside lamps —Vintage desk lamps
ZETA sign — vintage

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