L.A. at Home

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Category: Barbara Thornburg

Rachel Ashwell, hoping shabby can be chic again


Our latest home profile: Rachel Ashwell's "Shabby Shack" in Malibu

It's a different Rachel Ashwell for different times. The founder of the Shabby Chic empire lost her stores, her muse and her house during the recession. But now she's back, reviving her celebration of beautiful imperfection in her latest home, a rough-around-the-edges Malibu rental that she dubbed her Shabby Shack. Writer Barbara Thornburg pays a visit and finds a resilient designer whose new credo certainly resonates in tough times: Make do without settling.

ARTICLE: Rachel, reinvented

TIPS: Ashwell's flea market strategies

PHOTOS: Inside the easy, breezy Malibu house



Homes of the Times: Profiles in pictures

Photo, top: Rachel Ashwell arranges flowers at a table fashioned from reclaimed oak.

Photo, bottom: The house, including its saltillo tiles, may not be perfect. But it is filled with classic Ashwell moments -- not to mention breathtaking views.

Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times


Virtual home tour: The fine art of object arranging

Herrington_10 This week we take a virtual peek inside the home of Walter Herrington, whose company, the Tulino Design Group of Hollywood, is a design packager for the home products industry, with clients such as Bed Bath & Beyond, Lamps Plus and Nambé. What caught our eye about Herrington's home is his graphic treatment of walls and objects. He often groups his travel souvenirs and collected objects in trays, then swaps out those trays during the course of the year, allowing him to enjoy various objets d'art without getting overwhelmed by clutter.

"When you take a book off the shelf or objects out of your closet and place them on a table, it's a way of seeing and enjoying them again," says Herrington, who leaves the tablescapes for two weeks to two months -- "or until I get something else and make an arrangement around that."

You can read the full story on Herrington's art of arranging, or check out our photo gallery for more photos and tips.

-- Deborah Netburn

Photo: In Herrington's music room, a surprising variety of motifs: ceramic vases painted with vertical and horizontal stripes, a polka dot bowl and box, a trompe l'oeil stack of plates (actually, a ceramic box), a harlequin-pattern letter opener. Herrington says the arrangement was driven by a desire to complement the Tony Gleaton photography on the wall. The cowhide-covered chair is vintage, and the lamps are by Thomas O'Brien.

Credit: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


'CSI: Miami' actor Jonathan Togo's house

Home Tour: Priscilla Woolworth's style is mixed, not matched


How a Studio City couple tamed a wickedly sloped hillside


Architect Jeffrey Tohl's backyard has had several incarnations in the last 16 years: a grass yard in the shape of a Fender guitar, then a space dedicated to the kids complete with jungle gym, treehouse and a sandpit surrounded by a tricycle path. Now, the final metamorphosis — an outdoor living room and multilevel garden — may be laid at the feet of Maggie, the family's 4-year-old Airedale.

"They're natural diggers," Tohl says. "Pretty soon after we got her, the lawn was full of holes and all the plantings were destroyed. All we were missing was the old abandoned car up on blocks."

To accommodate the new family member, Tohl needed to reconsider the Studio City yard. Besides, the kids had outgrown their play area, and he and his wife, TV director Ellen Pressman, had always wanted an "adult place" to entertain friends outdoors and a Jacuzzi to sink into after a long day — all on a steeply sloped site.

To see how they made it all fit, keep reading the rest of this story on architect Jeffrey Tohl's backyard here, or click to our photo gallery, which shows the garden from all different angles -- flat and steep alike.

-- Barbara Thornburg

Photos: Maggie, a 4-year-old Airedale enjoys the latest incarnation of her backyard. Credit: Val Riolo.

The Craft: Doreen Mellen's handmade tableware


In this edition of our series on Southern California's master craftspeople, writer Barbara Thornburg spends time with ceramics artist Doreen Mellen, who hand-forms her French-inspired dining pieces in her Laguna Beach garage/studio/sidewalk shop.

Mellen, who is from Tasmania, has been making ceramics for only 10 years. A five-piece dinner set runs $150, a mug $35, all available through her website, Bluehouselaguna.com.

You can read Barbara Thornburg's full story on Mellen and her dishes here. We've also got pictures of how the ceramic magic happens after the jump.

-- Deborah Netburn

Continue reading »

Halloween challenged? How about a Victorian mourning tour at Heritage Square Museum?

Mourning Tours 
There are creepy happenings at Heritage Square Museum this Halloween. You can learn everything you've ever wanted to know about death and mourning etiquette in Victorian times, as well as participate in a funeral as part of the Highland Park landmark's mourning tours program. Did you know, for instance, that while women were expected to mourn for two years, men got off with a single year? Ladies were expected to dress from head-to-toe in black -- even their calling cards and lace handkerchiefs were outlined in the charcoal-hue.

"Since funeral parlors were yet to be invented," director of administration and operations Jessica Alicea says, "bodies were kept at home in a casket for viewing." Many ingenious devices were invented for death, among them a pull string inserted into the casket and attached to a bell above ground -- just in case the person inside wasn't actually, well, dead.

The programs take place noon to 4 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25. For those with impressionable children, the Sunday program is more family friendly. Children ages 2 to 12 are encouraged to come in costume, play period games and make 19th century harvest crafts. The San Garbriel Valley Storytellers will spin spooky stories in the Ford house, one of the historic structures that make up Heritage Square.

Museum admission is $5 to $10; kids under 6 are free. For more information call (323) 225-2700 or go to heritagesquare.org.

-- Barbara Thornburg

Photo courtesy of Moises Rodriguez

At Beverly Hills art show, water is the theme

More than 200 artists from around the country will be featured at the Beverly Hills art show Affaire in the Gardens this weekend. The event will be held from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in Beverly Gardens Park, located on four blocks from Rodeo to Rexford drives along Santa Monica Boulevard. The subject of this year's show is water, "although no rain is planned," event spokesman Robert Nieto says.

The show includes an outdoor dining area, a wine garden, live jazz, craft-making for children and demonstrations by artists taking on the subject of water.  Some of the proceeds go to the art program at Los Angeles Children's Hospital.

Could be a fun event for the whole family -- and it's free.

-- Barbara Thornburg

Photo: "Sunbathing" by Thomas Barbéy

Pop Art toaster makes breakfast a visual treat -- for not much bread

on a CEO Linda CarlishThe brainchild of Linda Calish presentid o fLC Premiums LTd.the ide wa sparked says

Lusso chrome with heart plate

Want to cheer up your morning ritual of toast and coffee? You might be a candidate for the Pop Art toaster. The retro-style toaster comes with interchangeable stencil image plates - -a sun, a heart, a birthday cake, and our personal favorite, "Bite Me" -- that allows for the design to be toasted onto your bread. The idea for the product came to LC Premiums President and founder Linda S. Carlish while traveling in China, where she saw a toaster that put a smiley face onto bread.

Today her company owns the patent for the technology of interchangeable stencils that can toast images onto everything from frozen pancakes and toaster pastries to hamburger buns and flat bagels. But if you happen to be a grumpy-pie in the morning who insists on your coffee black and your toast, well, just plain -- all you have to do is remove the stencil plate.

The 2009 Lusso Chrome model toaster with seven heat settings, as well as a slide-out crumb tray, is also available in plastic in black, white, red, pink, aqua and chrome; suggested retail, $49.95. The company's website has a store locator.

What we're reading: 'XS Future: New Ideas, Small Structures'

XSFuture_pg071.jpg roundroowooshomesx

"XS Future: New Ideas, Small Structures" by Phyllis Richardson (published by Universe, a division of Rizzoli International Publications) celebrates extreme buildings. (As in extremely small.) The third in a series of books devoted to small-scale constructions, the tiny volume with an acid-chartreuse cover looks at the works of those who are stretching boundaries of design while exploring the performance of building materials.  

"It is sometimes in the most outlandish ideas that the kernel of a new possibility is found and allowed to take root resulting in more useful and efficient materials and methods," writes Richardson. 

For photos and Richardson's commentary from the recently published book, which offers a collection of small structures with big ideas from around the globe, go to the jump. 

Continue reading »

Drive-By Design: King Kong-meets-donkey mural

Bookcasemural, sunsetmural, mortonbayfig 285

Some levity for your weekend: Driving down Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake, I was stopped in my tracks by this ferocious-looking ape-mural overlooking a six-space parking lot at Westerly Terrace. Now the King Kong with crown and donkey ears catches my eye every time I pass. I climbed the stairs leading to the early Craftsman home above to ask about the odd painting. I got few details, but my guess is that the lot was painted to scare off non-tenants from parking there. I wouldn't leave my car there if you paid me. The ape gives me the heebie-jeebies. To catch a larger glimpse of the mural, go with the jump.

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Drive-By Design: A garage library? Well, sort of ...

Bookcasemural, sunsetmural, mortonbayfig 263

Garage doors generally fall into the not-terribly-interesting category. At least that's what I used to think. While walking with my dog this week on Mulholland Highway under the Hollywood sign, I spotted this garage door painted as if it were a library. The trompe l'oeil is the brainchild of Lee Dembart, a former editorial writer and book reviewer for the L.A. Times. (I swear I didn't know when I knocked on his door at 8:15 in the morning.) He had the mural painted in 2005 by artist Don Gray, who now resides in Oregon. How come? "I love books," was Dembart's answer. "They're my passion."  Seems like a good enough reason to me.

Maybe painting your passion on your garage door will start a trend. It is like a large, blank canvas. More photos, including details of the mural, after the jump.

Continue reading »


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