Robert's Character-Filled House in Echo Park

Robert's Character-Filled House in Echo Park

Marcia Prentice
Dec 17, 2012

Name: Robert Harbour, set designer and residential designer, + Tulsa & Chopper
Location: Echo Park, Los Angeles, California
Size: 1900 square feet
Years lived in: 6 months

While other potential homebuyers walked away from the house that had too many quirks, Robert instead found much charm in the funky layout and unique character. The home had a basement-like nook right off the entrance, which he turned into a quiet mediation room. It also had an attic, which become his guest bedroom and retreat.

Robert's home is constantly evolving as he finds different ways to style and live in the space. Even as I was at his home ready to photograph the space, he was outside rearranging plants and thinking of different ways to present the outdoor living area. What I love most about his home is that it isn't perfect. It definitely has a lived-in quality, and doesn't make excuses for the fact that large dogs also inhabit the home.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Since this is my home and not a set or for a client, my choices are motivated by many things and are reflected in the outcome of the look. I don't have to think of a character or someone else's personal tastes, just my own, so the result is a mixture of anarchy and cleverness (I hope) filtered through timing, taste, economy and might. I like spaces to look lived-in and layered, with texture and interest, without being cluttered — this is often a juggling act.

Inspiration: Inspiration is a moving target and things often get edited in and out.

Favorite Element: My backyard rivals Versailles.

Biggest Challenge: Time.

What Friends Say: If I did more socially than hang out with my dogs, then my home would be party central. Friends who visit here are always offering to throw parties in my home. I would only be interested if everyone had a task and could help around the house. Since I'm always working on it, then so should they!

Biggest Embarrassment: Hot water — I hate tankless!

Proudest DIY: My fireplace was a bizarre out-of-scale mish-mash of periods and styles when I bought the place. I cut down the mantel, added the mirror, changed the face, and painted it with a rustable iron paint and oxidized it. Now it looks like it's been there forever!

Biggest Indulgence: The Ridge Beam.

Best Advice: Ignore "That's not normal"

Dream Sources: If I could have a spending spree at the Rosebowl Flea Market, I would feel like I won the lottery.

Resources of Note:





  • Garage sales
  • Flea markets





  • Garage sales


  • Euro Tile



  • Mostly built


  • Garage sales
  • My own


  • Plants are mostly Home Depot and Lowes - great return policy
  • A good handyman goes a long way

Thanks, Robert!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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