The house that convinced a New York designer to move to LA

Photo Credit: Read McKendree

Nice from the house

Photo Credit: Read McKendree

“As soon as I saw this huge window with shutters, there was no going back,” says designer Kevin Isbell of the Spanish Revival house in the Fairfax neighborhood of Los Angeles, which he and his partner Gianantonio Corna now call home. This wasn’t just any street address change: With the move, Isbell officially relocated his New York design practice to the West Coast. That said, those shutters were good enough to encourage a cross-country move.

Isbell was instantly fascinated by the architecture of the house (“it’s a style you just can’t get in New York,” he says) and set out to come up with a design scheme that honored those bones while also reflecting his own style.

“Many of these old bungalows are being sold and demolished to build huge houses,” says the designer. His process was the opposite: keep the original charm while making minimal changes to create a comfortable, personality living space – all while working with an almost entirely blank canvas (Isbell only has a small Took part of his belongings and opted for it instead) Source on site for his new home). That’s how he did it.

living room

Photo Credit: Read McKendree

“The only thought I made here was color,” says Isbell of the living room. “I really wanted to keep the simplicity of the surfaces with the white walls and wood paneling.” Such a neutral backdrop lets the architectural elements (like these incredible shutters and an original plaster fireplace) shine while also acting as a foil for the designer’s eclectic mix of furniture and accessories.

“Since I couldn’t have that much color, I relied on texture and pattern,” explains Isbell. “So that’s where the willow came in. Then there’s a raw plaster waterfall console in the window with a ’70s lava lamp, so it’s just a whole structural moment.”

Despite the fact that Isbell bought almost everything new for the house after moving, these textures make the room look layered over time – and the selection of almost all vintage pieces (“everything but the upholstery is vintage”). Isbell says).

The story goes on

To make the most of the sun-drenched quality of the room, the designer opted for an unusual curtain placement, with the rods hanging halfway up the window frame. “It’s as low as the law allows,” Isbell quips. “So you can sit in the room and feel comfortable, not like in a fishbowl, but you still get all the light.” The wafer-thin curtains are made of sari fabric, which Isbell has processed into curtain panels in his study fashion.

dining room

Since the central dining room is really “the main street in the house”, Isbell didn’t want to disturb the flow of the house by placing a table in the middle. Instead, he arranged a unique octagonal table in one corner with a matching banquet and created a cozy solution that “really opened up the space”.

This visual openness also gave Isbell the freedom to make the mixing of patterns and colors stronger. While it may seem brave to some, the designer says, “These oranges and blues just really work together for me.”

Dining area

“The best neighbor is watching, and the light is great,” says Isbell of his favorite room in the house, the sunny breakfast area next to the kitchen. Ballard banquets and framed botanical prints on a light green wall give the tiny space the feel of a cheery greenhouse.


Photo Credit: Read McKendree

“The palette here kind of came together,” Isbell says of the mix in his bedroom. “I found the bedding first and then wanted to react to the green-blue with the powder-green on the wall and then to the painting [by Victor Raul-Garcia] was just a beautiful thing that tied everything together. “The bed is flanked by two mismatched chests, partly the result of a shipwreck that turned Isbell from lemons to lemonade:

“The one with the beautiful olive wood doors used to be a wall-mounted sideboard, but when it was shipped across country they smashed every piece of it except for a section of the cupboard, so I called it a bedside table!” The track on the right is from Wertz Brothers in LA


“We basically spend all of our time here,” says Isbell. In fact, while we are talking on the phone, he says: “This is where I am speaking to you!” As a northeast transplant, Isbell enjoys all of his time outdoors, so creating an extension to the home outdoors was key. “It’s such a luxury after 18 years in New York to have a private outdoor space that’s yours. It’s very comforting. Plus, it keeps me tan!”

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