The Inside Man: Barney's Pop Art Loft

The Inside Man: Barney's Pop Art Loft

Maxwell Ryan
Jun 29, 2010
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Name: Barney Santos
Location: Downtown Los Angeles
Style: Fun, artistic, modern loft

The third stop on my Inside Man tour is downtown LA, where I'm meeting with Barney Santos. With the help of Valspar Paint, I'll be working with Barney to warm up his modern loft.

Barney works in real estate, he's newly married, and he lives with his wife, Evelyn. (That's a photo of them, above, taken in the Downtown LA Arts District near their home.) They're "fun, artistic, and just easy going city folk" who are looking for a way to merge their stuff and their styles in a new, shared space.
Barney says, "I've been living here in Downtown Los Angeles for the last 3 years, off and on, by myself. While I lived by myself, I never really developed a style that I could call my own. I've always loved interior design blogs and magazines like Apartment Therapy and Dwell, but I've never really learned to incorporate that style on my own."

"Last October I was married to my girlfriend of 8 years and we moved in together immediately following the honeymoon. I'm so thankful that we actually have a place to live together, but it's been challenging for us to incorporate both of our tastes into this little loft. I enjoy more of the modern, functional, male look (with an artistic flare) and she's really into the whole vintage look. I would love to learn how we could incorporate these two distinct styles into our place — that way I would be finally able to give Evelyn a place that she can be proud to call home."

Barney and Evelyn already have some great elements in their loft — the huge window with a view of Downtown LA and the high ceilings are a real bonus. He's also got some nice furnishings that we'll be able to work with, including the Barcelona chairs and the low, modern couch. The art collection shows that his style has an edge, and I want to choose a background color that will show off the paintings.

The base color on the walls isn't a bad starting point, but I'm thinking we'll want something a little richer — maybe a cream with some warm undertones. I'll check the fan deck against the light in the apartment for a better idea. To begin with, I've selected some creams and taupes as potential wall colors and a few sage greens for an accent wall. I'm thinking of going a little darker with the window trim to really highlight their incredible view. I'll bring my choices to Barney and see what he thinks.

Danish Modern in Downtown LA

Barney pulled together a list of his favorite LA hangouts to get me acquainted with the area and give me a sense of his style. Here are his must-see spots:

  • MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art)

For more good stores in Downtown Los Angeles, check out Apartment Therapy's local listings.

Barney's loft before the room re-do

When a couple moves in together, it's pretty common to feel unsure about merging two different styles, but it's a great opportunity to stretch your own style a bit and broaden your tastes. It's also a lesson in finding balance. Barney's modern tastes and Evelyn's vintage style are actually well suited to one another — the vintage modern look is very popular right now, since a few well-chosen vintage pieces can effectively warm up and soften a modern room.

Barney's loft is grounded in a sophisticated aesthetic and he's already amassed some very nice pieces. The challenge here will be to help him and Evelyn take their style to the next level, and to make them both feel that their personal taste is represented in the home. They've already laid a good foundation; my job will just be to help them build on it.

Keep an eye out for Phase 2, on Thursday, when I'll be posting my meeting with Barney. You'll learn what paint colors we choose, our initial shopping list, and the next steps in our plan!

We've teamed up with Valspar Paint to create The Inside Man, a special feature dedicated to daily (Monday – Friday) posts from Apartment Therapy and GQ about men's color conundrums and style questions. From sofas with cup holders to brilliant bachelor pads, we're focusing on the decor dilemmas men often bring to us.

The Inside Man: East Coast
The Inside Man: Midwest
• Read more about guy style at
• Check out GQ's guide to guy style at

Photos: Courtesy of Barney Santos, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan, Apartment Therapy
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