John’s New York City Interior with a California Garden
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Name: John Saint-Denis
Location: Hancock Park – Los Angeles, California
Size: 1500 Square Feet
Years lived in: 5 years
John wanted to reduce his carbon footprint by moving in a multi-unit building. He found his current fourplex and decided to purchase the property with a few friends, who would each keep one of the units. It had the potential for John’s ideal blending of styles, a classic Upper East Side Manhattan layout with a California garden, but needed a complete overhaul.
Being an older building, it required the replacement of old fixtures with high efficiency plumbing and electrical appliances to compete with current efficiency standards. In Southern California, indoor and outdoor living become fused together. To complement the California lifestyle, John added drought tolerant and edible gardens to the exterior plant life, which are maintained without the use of any pesticides. After the structure’s original character was restored, John brought in interior designer, Paul Templeman-Holmes, to facilitate the last details of the design and to envision the overall style of the furnishings. The result was John’s dream space combining elements of both New York and Los Angeles style, while also having a flavor of 1930’s Italian design.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: Upper East Side Manhattan meets 21st Century Los Angeles. My home is a traditionally laid out flat with two bedrooms, two bathrooms, and distinct rooms, which are architecturally layered with references to the Hollywood Romantic style of the 20’s. The space is decorated with pieces from the modern and traditional styles of the 20’s and 30’s, mid-century pieces, contemporary pieces, and colors of today. The unifying theme, if there is one, is clean, proportionate, balanced, urban design with a masculine and enduring classic blend, which is often formal. The space is also layered with surprising colors here and there and strongly contrasted with the bright sun and informality of the surrounding California/Tuscan gardens.
Inspiration:Boutique hotels of 1930’s Rome or Florence. Again, a seriousness inside with framed views of the wildly bright, urban, yet lush surroundings.
Favorite Element: A 19th Century curvy Mahogany chair upholstered with a 1960’s orange striped Pucci dress fabric, which was found at an antique market in Connecticut.
Biggest Challenge: Restoring badly abused 1920’s elements. Over the years, layers of wallpaper and then “modernization” nearly destroyed the original classic, clean lines of the building. Smooth stucco was covered with textured acoustic cottage cheese. The kitchen was demo’d at some point in the 90’s and rebuilt by Home Depot. After restoring original finishes and materials, the next challenges were small closets, a small kitchen, and a dark hallway.
What Friends Say: Very New York! Lovely, elegant, sophisticated, masculine, and a classic entertaining apartment. Friends laugh because my career history has been in furniture merchandising and retail management and marketing. They say my home is always, and I mean absolutely always, “customer ready,” a quality I’ve always demanded of my store’s staff.
Biggest Embarrassment: Ugly drought tolerant gardens that are slow to grow in and a neighboring garage that is collapsing.
Proudest DIY: Oh so many – the home is completely solar powered, love my kitchen counters, all the restored wood, my Italian sage plants, and the furniture I designed with the architects at Johnson Favaro.
Biggest Indulgence: Arial photo of Rome by photographer Alex Maclean. Also, I have boxes and boxes of subway tile in the bathrooms to expand the orginal idea and bring the tile all the way up to the ceilings on every wall. Wood floors in the kitchen and the baths – everyone said that was silly, but I thought it would unify the apartment and make the small spaces seem larger by having one continuous floor material.
Best advice: Put some furnishings away, you don’t need to have everything you love out.
Dream source: Blackman Cruz
Resources of Note:
- Barbara Barry for Baker Furniture
- Melrose/Fairfax Swap Meet
- Wertz Brothers
- Antique Stores on route Seven in New England (from New York to Vermont)
TILE AND STONE
Flea markets and estate sales. I found several signature pieces when the California Academy of Sciences closed for demolition and rebuilding five years ago. Always keep an eye out for institutions, especially schools, movie studios or prop houses closing or remodeling and looking to raise funds through salvage sales.
Images: Bethany Nauert
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