Michelle Workman's Designer Craftsman

Michelle Workman's Designer Craftsman

Rebecca Orlov
Sep 25, 2009

Name: Michelle Workman
Location: Los Angeles, California
Size: 3,200 square feet
Years lived in: 2 1/2 years

We gave you a sneak peek of Michelle's home this week now here's the full house tour. A few years ago, Michelle and her husband, Justin, were looking for an older home that needed "light" renovations. They didn't want to undo someone else's work to make it their own. When they saw their current home for the first time they just "knew it was right since it had been maintained but never renovated." They renovated their house, which was then lacking in personality, and it's now filled with a colorful palette and design elements perfect for the couple. While not as small as most of our House Tours, this home is full of color, personality and inspiring ideas that anyone can draw upon.

Enter House Tour

AT Survey:

My style: Traditional in shape (mostly) with vibrant use of colors and touches of insouciance.

Inspiration: Something happy and memorable for the children. I had done a country house for a client and had wanted to use that wallpaper that is in the living room and thought this would be the perfect opportunity – it is so sweet and happy – perfect for young children. I really wanted to inspire my kids to be creative and fantastical - let their imaginations run wild. My older boy sometimes has conversations with the birds in the paper and I love that!

Favorite Element: The color scheme - its either super happy or a sedate grey, with bursts of color - sort of like that gum that has the juicy center; it tastes good when you put it in your mouth but then you get a juicy tangy burst when you bite down.

Biggest Challenge: Working a Craftsman into a more lighthearted design. Craftsman Bungalow's tended toward a serious note – dark woodwork, clean pristine lines, hard edges. The great thing about Craftsman' was the slight bent towards nature. I tried to pull THAT element out with the birds (wallpapers) and keep it somewhat country inspired since country is also based on natural elements.

What Friends Say: Most men say they love the wallpapers (go figure) and in general people say that it feels very happy – which is good because that is what I was going for!

Biggest Embarrassment: That it is more traditional than I would wish it for myself. I like a few more dashes of modern - and more "sexy" stuff, like Lucite tables, and glass. However, with kids, I thought they might ruin "precious" things and then I would be mad…better not to be mad.

Proudest DIY: Embroidered the monogram on the headboard and then upholstered it myself – the upholstery is not done "properly" but I actually love the way it came out!

Biggest Indulgence: I suppose the Ann Sacks tile in the bathroom and kitchen. That and a Scalamandre chair in the master bath, Scalamandre fabric on the Living Room curtains. Everything else was stuff I found at estate sales, and thrift stores. Whenever my husband and I travel, I try to get out to little towns and check out what their antique stores have. Most of the time things are very inexpensive, at least by LA standards. Some of the items are actually from my store and I brought them in for the Apartment Therapy photo shoot.

Best advice: I think the best advice was for us to update all the systems, plumbing, electrical, and with that we put in central heat and air (the furnace was original to the house and was nearly 100 years old!!!) So now we don't swelter during summer nights in our beds – which is a godsend!

Dream source: Well I have to say my store, The Red House Interiors, is MY perfect resource! I love every single piece in it and would use all in my home (children permitting) but I do have a soft spot for Scalamandre. Their color-story is to die for – yummy, bright, and happy. And also for F. Schumacher & Co. - they have a great mix of modern and traditional fabrics and wall coverings.


  • Viking professional stove
  • Dishwasher – Maytag
  • Faucet, Pot filler, etc. – Belle Foret – Home Depot Special Order


  • Kitchen Latches and drawer pulls from www.vandykes.com
  • Dining room hardware from Liz's Antique Hardware
  • Rest of house (door knobs, etc) are original


Living room

  • Sofa – Baker, fabric - Lee Jofa
  • Pink slipper chair – Vintage found in small town in Nevada, fabric - P. Kaufman
  • Grey cane back chairs – www.hotelsurplus.com refinished and re-upholsetered, fabric - P. Kaufman
  • Blue high back sofa – found at a sidewalk sale from a small upholsterer
  • Breakfront – vintage - refinished (wedding gift)
  • Octagonal table – Antique found at Out of the Closet

Dining room
  • Table & buffet - Vintage store (buffet was re-finished) on Fairfax
  • Chairs – www.hotelsurplus.com refinished in teal lacquer

Master bedroom
  • bedside drum table – Wertz Brothers
  • Tangerine chair - estate sale reupholstered
  • Vanity – auction in Georgia

Guest bedroom
  • Deco Side tables – Erwin Gruen found at estate sale
  • Small bergeres – estate sale reupholstered in Edinburgh Weavers fabric
  • Red bench from my mom

Boys room
  • Bedside table – San Francisco Bay Co.
  • Chair – from my mom

Living Room

  • Ceramic dog – garage sale

Dining room

  • Blue transfer-ware plates – Ebay!
  • Blanc de Chine tureens – Phillipe Deshoulieres – Limoges France (while on honeymoon)
  • Most of the other items are from mine or Justin's family including
  • Thistle Jardiniere hand carried from Scotland by my great great grandmother

Master bed
  • Chinese people covered bowls – gift from a friend

99% of the fixed lighting was gotten off of Ebay. The guest bedroom chandelier I have been dragging around with me for 15 years – I got it at a garage sale in Florida for $10!

  • Living room
  • Pastoral lamp – Antique (found in Tucson AZ), shade – Brunschwig et Fils
  • Blackamoor Lamp - from Husbands Grandma

Master bedroom
  • Bedside lamps Marbro Lamp Co. –
  • Blackamoor bust -
  • Bedside lamps guest bed Gordy lamps – Justin's Grandma


  • Master – my design that I personally re-upholstered when we moved (available through my store – PROFESSIONALLY upholstered though!)
  • Guest – Antique
  • Boys – Antique (found in Tucson AZ)
  • Crib – Antique (given to me by a client)

Tiles and Stone:

  • Master bath and Kitchen Carrara 2x4 tiles – Ann Sacks
  • Carrara counters – Southland Stone
  • Hexagonal white floor tile – DalTile
  • Black square accent tile - DalTile

Window Treatments:
All made through my company, Michelle Workman Design.

  • Fabrics: Living Room – Scalamandre
  • Guest Bed – The Red House Interiors Yellow Chinois
  • Boys rooms – The Red House Interiors, Yellow Chinois
  • Master – someplace in Manhatten (was a steal!)
  • Dining room – cant remember
  • Kitchen Valance - Scalamandre

Rugs and Carpets:

  • Master rug – flea market (Tucson AZ)
  • Guest rug - Rug – Interior Rugs (on west Pico)
  • Living room rug - Rug – Interior Rugs (on west Pico)
  • Boys rooms shag – Melrose Carpets

Living room

  • Pine cone sculpture – my husband Justin made that!
  • 2 large Watercolors over blue sofa www.sophierobyncampbell.com
  • Pastel portrait over secretary was done by my grandmother in highschool
  • The two smaller charcoals in the guest bedroom are by artist Bree Scanlon
  • The larger charcoal is by artist Arizia Magnusson
  • The rest of the art is vintage or antique and was found all over the place


  • Paint is all Benjamin Moore

(Thanks, Michelle!)

Photos by Jeff Ong

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