L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Celebrity

Kishani Perera: Eclectic can be livable in designer's 'Vintage Remix'

Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney house
In her new book "Vintage Remix: The Interiors of Kishani Perera," the Los Angeles designer proves that "eclectic" does not have to be code for "messy" or "absolute disarray." The homes she decorates mix high-end furnishings with EBay and Etsy finds, flea market pieces and mass-market purchases for rooms that reflect an individual's personality with warmth and often a touch of glamour. 

Kishani"Vintage Remix" ($35, Abrams) delivers its advice partly through profiles of Perera's celebrity clients, including the bedroom of Kaitlin Olson and Rob McElhenney, stars of "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" and a married couple in real life, and the kitchen of model and actress Molly Sims. Perera shared her design philosophies and strategies for the Q&A at the end of this post, and she also talked through a few of the rooms featured in the book, explaining how readers could apply some of the same concepts in their homes. We started with Olson and McElhenney's living room, pictured here.

"In the living room, I tried to work with what they had," Perera said. "They already had the high-end sofa and the custom leather ottoman, which was a wedding gift."

To add pattern to the room, Perera added Firenze embroidered window treatments from the Ballard Designs catalog and website and a zebra rug from Home Decorators Collection, another online resource with inexpensive buys.

"You'll notice there are black, cream and charcoal elements," Perera said. The charcoal in the drapes ties in with the charcoal in the rug and the throw on the chair. To put more emphasis on the large window on the right, Perera hung white sheers on both sides of the fireplace to make those smaller windows fade away. "Patterned drapes on all of the windows would have been too much," she said. 

Accessories include mercury glass from Anthropologie on the antique bar cart. Vintage bottles on the fireplace were from the the couple's wedding, originally used in the place settings. "We needed something on the mantel that wasn't too distracting," she said. "The bottles add a little shape."

For a look at two more Perera rooms plus the Q&A, keep reading ...

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‘Community’ funnyman Jim Rash's quirky green room

Jim Rash houseJim Rash’s next-door neighbor is concerned. He notices a photographer shooting Rash’s home and wonders if the pictures are for a real estate listing. “Is Jim moving?” the neighbor asks anxiously. “He is such a nice guy. I worry he’s become too famous lately. I told him, ‘Please don’t move.’”

If Rash wasn’t officially famous before the Academy Awards last month, he certainly was afterward. He won an Oscar for co-writing the screenplay of “The Descendants” and, perhaps more famously, he scored rave reviews for his fierce portrayal of Angelina Jolie’s thigh on stage during the ceremony. His TV series “Community,” in which he plays the quirky Dean Pelton, returned to the NBC lineup last week. And he’s busy writing a “comedy-action” film script for “Bridesmaids” star and fellow Groundlings alum Kristen Wiig.

Jim Rash gardenBut when he’s not playing a manic community college administrator, mocking A-list celebs in front of millions worldwide or otherwise being famous, you just may find Jim Rash, the nice neighbor, kicking back at home, where he lives and writes with a view of a newly redesigned garden.

PHOTO GALLERY: Jim Rash at home

Rash divides his writing time between a Santa Monica office, Insomnia Cafe on Beverly Boulevard and his West L.A. house, so he said he wanted a calm landscape surrounding his “outdoor office,” also known as his garage. Working with Santa Monica landscape architect Dale Newman, Rash revamped his back and front gardens to create more pleasant environs in which to work and outdoor areas that could accommodate overflow guests when the writer entertained.

The result: simple, beautiful, manageable garden spaces that have essentially doubled the area of Rash’s 1,100-square-foot house. “The gardens make the living spaces feel so much larger,” Rash said.

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Sunnylands: Sneak peek inside the Annenberg desert fantasyland

Sunnylands-1
It is the Xanadu of the California desert: Sunnylands, formerly the winter residence of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, he the TV Guide publishing magnate, she the niece of Columbia Pictures chief Harry Cohn, who raised her. On 200 fabled acres now set behind a pink security wall, Walter and Leonore built a 25,000-square-foot house with an art and design collection so singular, no one seems able to estimate its value.

Sunnylands-antique-wallpapePresidents, princes and movie-star friends arrived by helicopter and limousine to golf on the private course, fish in stocked lakes and otherwise luxuriate in the Annenberg fantasyland. Now you can have a glimpse of it too.

On March 1, after a $61.5-million renovation that includes a new visitors center and garden, Sunnylands will open to the public. On view will be the Midcentury architecture by Los Angeles icon A. Quincy Jones, the interior design by the legendary William Haines and his associate, Ted Graber, and, most important, the Sunnylands mystique.

PHOTO GALLERY: Inside Sunnylands, a modern castle in the California desert

Preview tours during Palm Springs Modernism Week quickly sold out. But earlier this month, Geoffrey Cowan, president of the Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands, and curator Anne Rowe led a private walk-through of the storied Rancho Mirage home, one of the Coachella Valley's largest and most historic.

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Celebrity hair stylist gives English cottage some Hollywood glam

Robert Vetica, left, and Giorgio Vetica in the living room of their Los Angeles home
In the last five months, hair stylist Robert Vetica has traveled to San Francisco, New York, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro, working with actresses Cate Blanchett, Jessica Simpson, Naomi Watts and Hilary Swank. Fortunately for Vetica, he doesn’t have to go far Sunday, when he preps Salma Hayek for the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Vetica homeBecause he travels more than half the year for work, Vetica treasures his moments at home in Los Angeles. “My home is a retreat for me,” he says of the house he shares with his husband, Giorgio Vetica. “I love beautiful things: shine, glamour. That’s what I do.”

The devotion to Hollywood glamour makes his choice in houses something of a surprise: a 1928 English cottage.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Vetica house

“We realized that yes, maybe it didn’t have everything we wanted at the time, but with time, we can make it our dream home,” says Vetica, who bought the house with Giorgio 10 years ago. “That’s what has happened.”

Subtle alterations have opened the interiors of the traditional house and bring in light. A few walls were taken down, and the kitchen was doubled in size after an adjacent laundry room was turned into a breakfast nook. The den and kitchen open to a patio that extends the living space into a lush landscape.

The couple wanted to maintain the integrity of the house, so new windows reflected the cottage’s original style. The kitchen was updated with amenities for cooking and entertaining but not made too modern, Vetica says. For help with finishing touches, he turned to interior designer Michelle Workman, whom he met last year while they were working with Jennifer Lopez.

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Tales from the gift closet

Admit it. You’ve got one. The gift closet. The holding cell where the less-than-ideal presents are stowed for regifting later. The staging ground for clearance purchases that could not be resisted (but should have been). Or, if you’re a particularly thoughtful or generous or organized gift giver, perhaps just a great place to hide your finds from throughout the year.

On Christmas Eve, as gift-shopping procrastinators grow ever more desperate, perhaps someone in your home will be madly searching for something — anything! — that might do the trick.

Even if you don’t have a gift closet — or box, or drawer, or bin — chances are you’ve received a lovely (or not) gift-closet present from somebody else. Though that might earn the disapproval of Lizzie Post, great-great-granddaughter of etiquette doyen Emily Post, whose Tip No. 1 is “Don't put gifts people have given you into your gift closet,” party planner Colin Cowie sees it another way. He once he gave a bottle of Penfolds Grange Hermitage, an Australian wine that runs into the hundreds of dollars. “Two years later, she gave it back,” said Cowie, who believes there is nothing wrong with regifting. “I was so glad to get that wine back I couldn’t tell you.”

For the gift closet pros and newbies alike, we canvassed dozens of folks from all walks of life: Nate Berkus, Jonathan Adler, Bob and Cortney Novogratz, the "Dinner Party Download" guys. We posed the question: What’s in your gift closet? Here's what they all said:

Toni-BraxtonToni Braxton, Grammy winner and star of the reality TV series “Braxton Family Values” (Photo credit: Erik S. Lesser / For The Times):

I always have Starbucks and Target gift cards on hand. I just bought some today! For either $50 or $100. Everyone goes to Starbucks, and everyone goes to Target, so it’s perfect. But I will admit that my stash of gifts does include some regifted items. Those are usually for my sisters. We regift among ourselves a lot. Like recently Lady Gaga gave my sister Tamar two pairs of really nice sunglasses. Well, she says her face is too fat for them, so she gave them to me. But we always reveal the real giver when we regift, so Tamar told me the sunglasses were from her and Gaga.


Carole-TownsendCarole Townsend, author of the humor book “Southern Fried White Trash,” on the worst thing in her gift closet (Townsend family) :

I did not have to hesitate. A boy I dated in college was raised by a great-aunt, and she could not stand me. … They were high-society New York, and maybe they thought I was a Southern bumpkin. … It was a set of salt-and-pepper shakers and a creamer. They were pigs – I was a little chunky in college, and I got the message. Of course, if you used the creamer, it came out of the mouth. And it grunted! … It was the most awful thing. She shopped long and hard for that. Now that I’m 50, I can laugh, but I never got over it. … It’s cheap ceramic.


GarcettisL.A. City Councilman Eric Garcetti and his wife, Amy Elaine Wakeland (City of Los Angeles):

Eric: It’s not really a closet. What would you call it?

Amy: We have gift baskets that we keep filled with small hostess and holidays gifts. They’re in the garage. We probably have about 10 to 20 gifts at any one time. I replenish it when it starts getting low, but I usually don’t buy more than two of any item. Right now, we have: Armenian brandy, Hollywood ornaments, cute little handmade ornaments, wine glass charms, salted caramels and a modernist birdhouse. For kids we have educational toys — like a talking clock, a wind-power renewable energy science kit and a mini-piano. And I almost always have potted succulents or orchids that we use as gifts.

Eric, on the worst thing: There was the home-growing gourmet mushroom kit. It just kind of got moldy when we tested it, so I don't know if any others will ever be gifted.

Amy: There are also bottles of wine in there that sometimes disappear before we have the chance to give them away.


Nate-BerkusNate Berkus, designer and host of “The Nate Berkus Show” (The Nate Berkus Show) :

The contents of my gift closet fall into two categories, staples and vintage. The first are items that are evergreen when it comes to gift-giving. Beautiful bars of soaps, candles (both wick and flameless) frames, simple Turkish hand towels. They're the gifts that work for nearly any occasion and cater to the details of living beautifully. The second category of vintage is comprised of what I love but have outgrown from my own house as well as flea market finds that I hauled home but didn't find a place for. In other words, they're things that I love and could be the perfect gift for the person on your list.

You perfect the art of the gift closet not by what's in it, but by simply having one. In other words, a gift closet means avoiding the headache of having to rush to the mall on the way to your next dinner party, running from store to store trying to find a hostess gift. You're prepared. Now, all you have to do is open the door at the end of the hall. Problem solved.

I'm obsessed with order. So, if something’s been lurking for too long in my gift closet, then you can bet it goes in the charity bin well before its expiration date!

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Michael Jackson's last home: Furniture on view, auction nearing

More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction
Michael Jackson's last home: That is how 100 N. Carolwood Drive, the 17,000-square-foot Holmby Hills estate where Jackson died in June 2009, may forever be known. Furnishings from the house are scheduled to go on the block Dec. 17 at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, and among the pieces for sale are the Victorian Revival-style burlwood headboard for the bed where Jackson slept, above, (valued at $3,000 to $4,000), and the plush red velour sofas and chairs from the screening room. More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction

A suited rooster figurine in the kitchen holds a blackboard that is inscribed with chalk messages from Jackson's children (estimated at $400 to $600).

A free public preview of the lots will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily at Julien's Auctions, 9665 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 150. Everything in the auction is cataloged online.

Designed by architect Richard Landry and completed in 2002, the French chateau-style estate had been leased for Jackson at a cost of $100,000 a month by AEG. The concert promoter had rented the property from trustee Roxanne Guez, wife of Ed Hardy owner Hubert Guez.

The owners decorated the house with 18th and 19th century Continental furniture and traditional upholstered pieces from George Smith. The decor felt similar to the look of Jackson's home at Neverland, auction house owner Darren Julien said in an email. Purchased in 2004 for $18.5 million, the home was on the market when Jackson moved in. 

"Michael was considering buying it," Julien added.

More than 500 furnishings from the Los Angeles house where Michael Jackson died are open for public viewing and scheduled for auction"Historically, Michael did rent houses, and when he would leave, he would take the furnishings with him when he left and buy them from the owners."

Citing a long history with the Jackson family, Julien has not used Jackson's likeness to promote the sale and is not claiming that the 500-plus items for sale were the singer's personal possessions.

Julien also withdrew from the sale the bed in which Jackson died, right, at the request of the entertainer's mother, Katherine Jackson.

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Lisa Ling house: Modern lines, family circles

Lisa Ling Punchouse kitchen
For 15 years, television journalist Lisa Ling was a nomad. She worked out of New York, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C., reporting stories from Colombia, North Korea, Uganda and Russia. "I forgot what 'home' meant," Ling says. "For me, it was United Airlines Seat 4B." After Ling married radiation oncologist Paul Song, the couple settled in Santa Monica with plans to start a family and build a house with room to grow, space for entertaining and a distinctly modern design. Marco DiMaccio of Punchouse Ecodesign Group delivered all that and more, putting the finishing touches this fall on a concrete, wood and glass prism that reflects his clients' heritages and showcases their budding art collection.

Punchouse entrance“Lisa and Paul are comfortable with who they are, and I certainly wasn't blind to their heritage,” DiMaccio says. As a result, the house contains features that reflect its owners in fresh and quirky ways. As he puts it: “I like to surprise people and make them smile.”

Take the hard-to-miss lamp out front. Scaled in proportion to the two-story facade and illuminated to glow at night like a giant paper lantern, the light is fashioned from 2,000 translucent plastic Chinese takeout containers. “It took me, my girlfriend, Lisa and Paul four days to glue them together,” DiMaccio says.

PHOTO GALLERY: Lisa Ling-Paul Song house

Another frontyard attention-getter is the 5 1/2-foot-deep sunken conversation area with steps covered in artificial turf. Hidden from passersby behind a wall, it's proved to be a favorite with young and old alike. “The pit is amazing,” Ling says. “Kids stop crying when we put them inside, and on Sundays, Paul and I read the paper there with a cup of coffee.”

Ling, best known for her stint on “The View” and currently host of “Our America With Lisa Ling” on OWN, is Chinese. Song is Korean. DiMaccio kept their ethnicity in mind throughout the design process, and nowhere is it more evident than at the entrance.

The 9-foot-wide foam-filled wood front door is finished by hand like a surfboard in high-gloss red, a color associated with good luck in China. Next to it is a pond that flows indoors and contains a Plexiglas grate cut in the shape of the Chinese characters for “double happiness.”

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Lost L.A.: Boys Republic and the Della Robbia wreath

Boys Republic wreaths
“Do real men make Christmas wreaths?” Tweet that to your presidential candidates and see how they respond. The answer is yes, of course -- for more than a century, at the Boys Republic in Chino Hills. Early supporter Margaret Brewer of San Francisco was what Americans in 1900 called a New Woman, a self-supporting, university-educated teacher who made an independent life for herself long before marrying Minnesota lumber and mining industrialist Eldridge M. Fowler and moving to swanky Pasadena.

With her husband's fortune and her early experience earning self-respect through self-sufficiency, Margaret Fowler rallied wealthy friends to fund the Boys Republic in 1907. Two years later she purchased land that became its present-day campus to house, teach and inspire teenage boys brought down low by abuse and broken families.

VINTAGE PHOTOS: Boys Republic and Della Robbia wreaths

Natalie Wood Della Robbia wreathThe organization's motto was “Nothing without labor.” Kids earned aluminum coins minted by trustees to pay for food and lodging. The boys planted and harvested crops on the land Fowler donated, and they maintained buildings in a village designed by Myron Hunt, architect of the Rose Bowl and the recently demolished Ambassador Hotel. The kids were self-governing, electing their own mayor and student council.

After a trip to Europe, Fowler conceived a craft tradition to extend the noble cause of honest pay for honest work. In 1923, Boys Republic residents made their first Christmas wreaths, still a Southland holiday standard. Beginning in January, boys and now girls trek through forests and fields gathering seeds, nuts, cones and pods to decorate by hand 40,000 fir wreaths, available on the Boys Republic website. Their classic circular form, with apples and lemons mixed with teasels and cotton burs, is inspired by Margaret Fowler's original design, based on sculpture by the Italian Renaissance Della Robbia family.

There never has been glitter or glitz on a Boys Republic wreath, but Tinsel Town celebs have long endorsed the community's annual Christmas campaign since the rise of TV in the 1950s. Natalie Wood (above right), Diahann Carroll, Tom Selleck and, of course, the goody two-shoes American family par excellence, Ozzie and Harriet Nelson, have celebrated the holiday season with smiling endorsements.

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Chef Joachim Splichal's home kitchen

Chef Joachim Splichal's kitchen


Splichal StephaneWith a food empire that spans two coasts and includes more than 60 cafes and restaurants, chef Joachim Splichal spends a lot more time these days filling out paperwork than plating diners’ orders. To do what he loves most -- cook -- the founder of Patina restaurant turns to a kitchen in that most personal of spaces: his home.

The San Marino estate that Splichal shares with his sons, 15-year-old fraternal twins Nicolas and Stephane, has two kitchens. The Monterey-style home opens onto a courtyard with an indoor-outdoor kitchen and poolside dining cabana designed with large-scale entertaining in mind. But the weeknight action happens inside the main house.

PHOTO GALLERY: Joachim Splichal's home kitchen

Compared with the outdoor kitchen, the family space inside is surprisingly minimalist for a chef with a penchant for French farmhouse antiques. But as Splichal prepares dinner for his family, the purpose of the fuss-free design becomes clear: This home kitchen is all about efficiency.

Pictured above: Splichal with sons Nicolas, left, and Stephane. At right, Stephane works by the Kohler vegetable sink. The granite island has 3-foot-wide butcher blocks at both ends to maximize ingredient prep time. 

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Pop-up shop: Adrian Grenier's SHFT

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SHFT Pop Up Gallery and Shop, an eclectic collection of furniture, home accessories, gadgets and artwork pitched as sustainable design, is scheduled to open its doors at 11 a.m. Friday on La Brea Avenue for a seven-day run.

Peter Glatzer and Adrian GrenierThe SHFT pop-up shop, "curated" (groan) by actor Adrian Grenier and film and TV producer Peter Glatzer and presented with Sungevity, will have furniture by designers including Samuel Moyer and William Stranger, plus 30 artworks by Vanessa Prager, Melodie McDaniel, Jeremy and Claire Weiss, and MB Boissonnault, among others. (That's Glatzer, near right, with Grenier.)

Web.2jpgThe Schwinn Vestige bike shown above ($1,470) is made from flax fiber and coated with water soluble paint. Environment Furniture's Cubex chair and pillow, ($2,195) is shown at right. Other pieces include the Bunny wire lounge chair from Bend Seating, featured in our recent California Look series $450. 

If you can't get to the SHFT pop-up by Thursday, don't worry. All products also can be purchased on the SHFT website.

11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. 161 S. La Brea Ave., Los Angeles.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: SHFT

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