A 1950s California Cabin Is Dreamy Inside and Out
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Name: Shawn Button
Location: Echo Park, California
Size: 1200 square feet
Type of Home: House
Years lived in: 3 years, owned
Shawn Button is a conceptual art house designer and consultant, explaining that he focuses on “crafting highly curated experiences with environments that invoke a sense of forgetting so remembering can be restored. My spaces are designed to guide the senses into a relaxed state while transporting you into a feeling of being free.” His home in Los Angeles’ Echo Park area is a delightful 1950s-era cabin surrounded by lush vegetation, and his purchase of the 1200-square-foot dreamy home has an extremely cute origin story.
“We (me and the house) met by chance when I was living downtown rushing to get to work and accidentally tapped on a push notification from Redfin,” says Shawn. “The listing appeared on my screen and I was on my way to the open house. As I walked inside, Willie Nelson was playing on a vintage radio in the living room and the realtor offered me a bowl of turkey chili upon greeting me with a warm welcome. At that moment, I knew I was home.”
Shawn continues: “Helen and Sally were the two ladies that lived here before me since the ’50s. Sally was one of the early trailblazers of female military flight after WWII and Helen was a renaissance woman who found a love for making stained glass and other crafts. Both of them lived a very private life as I supposed they might have felt ostracized for being gay. As a queer man myself, I wanted to liberate their legacy by offering homage to the space they spent so many years hiding in.
Before them, the Randals lived here in the ’30s when the area was nicknamed ‘Red Hill’ because of the artists, communists, and freaks that settled here as a safe haven. However, in March of 1938 a wild storm hit the neighborhood and a mudslide destroyed the house along with the family, except for one. The daughter was saved and pulled out from the rubble by a neighbor next door. The Randals still remain a mystery, but occasionally I find old glass bottles and tools when I garden and imagine stories about their time here on the hill.”
Shawn shares part of his California oasis with Airbnb guests thanks to guest cabin in the backyard. He’s also working on a “surreal-inspired home in Joshua Tree” next.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
My Style: My style is constantly changing by the world around me, but I’m currently tapped into what I call “psychedelic traveler roaming through a lost world.” I love mixing unassuming cultures and styles into a curated environment that creates a symbiosis between the individual and the space. A cross between reality and the dream realm.
Inspiration: I’m inspired by the sun and the moon. I’m inspired by the way people live around the world. I’m inspired by the subtleties in everything because that is where I find the most authenticity. I seek out design that draws us closer to our truth, the elements that give us the feeling of being free. I’m inspired by these moments.
Favorite Element: THE FLOOR. The floor is one of my greatest teachers, from there, the only way to go is up.
Biggest Challenge: Renovating my kitchen was a nightmare disguised in a blanket of joy. The project commenced during one of the rainiest seasons in LA that I can remember. Waterfalls of rain drenching everything day after day; I felt like I was living on a shipwreck. Progress kept being postponed and week after week I continued to do my dishes in the bathtub, make coffee on the grill, and order out. A month into it, I was robbed, but I pressed on and saw this project through to its completion three months later. Many lessons were learned, but the wood burning oven was worth it.
Proudest DIY: My kitchen. When they say your home is a reflection of who you are, they mean it. The chaos of this renovation caused chaos in my life, but there’s always beauty in the wild.
Biggest Indulgence: My guest cabin in the backyard was one of my first big projects where I was able to design and build from just an idea. I named it “The Otherside” after a Doors song, and now offer it as a retreat space on Airbnb. It’s been very inspirational to host people from all over the world and share stories and my home.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? My home is built into a hillside and is full of different levels and tiers. If you were hanging out in the living room you would have no idea that someone could be out back. It creates these very intimate nooks for gathering that lend to surprise interactions. There’s something so beautiful and symbolic about being able to drastically change your perspective depending on where you are in the home.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why? All of my plant friends! They add so much life to my space and are a constant reminder of our potential to grow.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant, or just plain useful small space maximizing and/or organizing tips you have: Think custom! Design what works for YOUR LIFE. Take the time to thoughtfully plan out how it will best serve you, and remember every new thing you bring into you home is a responsibility.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorating advice? Find your truth and don’t stray from that. Style will come after.
PAINT & COLORS
- Vintage Turkish area rug — Flea market
- Vintage sideboard — Flea market
- Vintage table — Gifted to me from a neighbor
- Chairs — HD Buttercup
- Sunrise stained glass — Etsy
- Cabinets — Custom design
- Military canvas duvet — Stephen Kenn
- Vintage tiger tapestries — Flea market
This house tour’s responses were edited for length and clarity.