After working with paint and pattern all day, a lot of designers like to return home to a restorative palette of neutrals. Lauren Soloff finds tranquility by allowing in a groundswell of color.
A child of the seventies and eighties known for her invitingly laid-back interiors (she’s on board with the macramé revival), Soloff lives with her eight-old-son, Roman, on the ground floor of a 1920s Spanish-style stucco house in LA’s Hancock Park. A California convert, Soloff grew up in New York–she has an undergrad degree in art history from Columbia University and went on to study architecture at UCLA, but she soon found herself with so many clients that she left school and has been working ever since. She currently has her own solo practice.
Soloff and Roman’s rental was in move-in condition when they claimed it almost two years ago. “I’m accustomed to doing overhauls, but this project was really just about decorating, which was great,” she says. “I like to be very bare bones In my own life.” Toward that end, Soloff began with a blank slate by painting every room Benjamin Moore Cloud White. She then layered in texture and color by applying years’ worth of collected objects and ideas. The results have an easy, unstudied look–which is exactly what Soloff always aims for.
Photography by Nancy Neil, except where noted.
Above: Soloff’s front door opens into the living room, sectioned off from the hall by slatted double doors. Eucalyptus leaves from the Hollywood Farmers’ Market sit in a pail from Soloff’s friend fashion designer Jenni Kayne‘s home shop in West Hollywood. The ceramic and twig wall hanging is by contemporary LA artist Heather Levine. Like the Noguchi globe light? Read about it in Object Lessons.
Above: “That rug is magic; it told me what was going to happen in the rest of the house,” says Soloff. A contemporary silk ikat made in India, the design is a one-off from Lawrence of La Brea: “The rug actually belongs to my best friend, and is on long-term loan. It’s like clothing–a big statement that’s not for everyone; I love it and knew I could live with it.”
Soloff points out that rest of the room is in neutral shades and there’s no art on the walls to compete with the floor (though she succumbed to a TV over the mantel–”You know what, it’s a living room we really live in. I wasn’t going to conceal it.”)
Above L: Soloff’s wicker hoop chair came from the Rose Bowl Flea Market: “If you’re going to use color, it’s good to balance it out with natural materials: wood floors, oatmeal sheepskin, rattan. It all offsets the way color vibrates.” Her George Smith Jules Sofa (“the first real thing I ever bought and now my forever sofa”) is upholstered in Belgian linen. Note the linen pillows and paisley throw, both from Nickey Kehoe: “If you ask me, pillows and a throw are not how to introduce a perk of color. I like building color from the ground up.”
Above R: A steer skull–”I’ve always wanted to have a Georgia O’Keefe moment”–hangs over an Indonesian chest in the dining room where Soloff hides “tea sets and Tiffany wine glasses–all my fancy stuff I’m never going to use.” The rusty boat propeller is one of the many sculptural objects displayed as art.
Above: Soloff grew up in a house filled with cacti and African baskets–”that period really resonates with me.” Her mosaic table came from LA antiques gallery Lawson Fenning.
Above: A perk of the job: Clients and friends give Soloff things they can’t use anymore, such as her farmhouse dining table. The wicker globe light came from Rewire and was inspired by the lights in the dining area at Soho House in LA. Yes, that’s a bona fide sixties macramé planter.
Above: Soloff in a vintage dress sits in front of French windows that overlook her front yard. Photograph by Michelle Drewes.
Above: A midcentury sideboard is playfully propped with a toy sailboat and pieces from Soloff’s ceramics collection: a “vintage Italian sixties drippy pitcher” and a vase by LA potter Adam Silverman. (See his pendant lights in Something Old, Something New: The Evolution of a Beverly Hills Home.) Soloff’s vintage Thonet chairs were another hand-me-down.
Above: The vintage kitchen, with its tiled countertops, is Soloff’s favorite room in the house: “I love to cook; it’s admittedly makeshift–I’m still looking for a kitchen table–but it’s clean and airy and nice to be in.” A lava-glazed yard sale vase holds pincushion flowers; the wooden spoon canister is by Humble Ceramics. The red-framed print is a vintage David Smith Whitney Museum poster that Soloff bought in bad shape–”broken glass, water stains”–and salvaged.
Above: The kitchen’s cabinetry is original and only required fresh white paint. “I’ve tried a lot of whites and Cloud White is my go-to. It’s not too cool or too warm, too blue or too yellow. Art looks fantastic on it. And it reflects light beautifully.” (See more options in 10 Easy Pieces: Architects’ White Paint Picks.)
Hanging from the ceiling: another Noguchi Light and a ceramic bell by Michelle Quan (see 5 Five Favorites: Bohemian Modern Ceramic Bells).
Above: “I’m not a fan of open shelves because stuff gets so dirty on them unless you use it every day,” says Soloff. “Glass cabinets for me are so much smarter, because I get to display all my Heath and other ceramics.” An Adam Silverman turquoise bowl sits on the counter.
Above: A still life–”it’s just a Flemish copy, but I liked it”–sits next to a La Chamba covered pot that Soloff uses at dinner parties. Learn about the black pottery in Design Sleuth.
Above: The kitchen came with its freestanding Viking range: “It’s changed my cooking game,” says Soloff. “Admittedly, this isn’t the most practical setup, but I love the way the stove looks on its own.” Read–and weigh in on–our Remodeling 101 debate: The Viking vs. Wolf Range.
Above: A stovetop collection: Heath Ceramics, a vintage Jens Quistgaard pepper mill, and a ceramic salt bowl by Materia Lumina.
Above: A giant dream catcher–a souvenir from a mother-son trip to Tulum, Mexico–hangs over Roman’s bed. The embroidered pillow is by Coral & Tusk.
Above: Roman loves to draw and has a vintage drafting table that came from Soloff’s grandparents with a pharmacy light. The chair is the Eiffel Shell Side from Modernica. Roman’s bulletin board–”to encourage him to hang things on it instead of the walls”–is just propped on a chair. “I call it a California lean,” says Soloff.
Above: In Soloff’s room, a curious wooden bowl on a tripod serves as a clothes catchall.
Above: Soloff and Roman keep small travel souvenirs–”things you want to hold on to, but don’t want cluttering counters”–in a glass cloche from a client. (Source a similar one in 10 Easy Pieces: Glass Cloches.)
Above: Soloff says she’s been dreaming of her all-white bedroom since childhood–perhaps complete with her sixties-style ceramic wall hanging by Heather Levine. Soloff had her white linen bed frame made by her upholsterer, and she uses classic Tolomeo Desk Lamps as bedside lighting propped on a stump and a chair. The sheepskin throw–”its an Octo Pelt inherited from a client”–is paired with a Flokati Rug. “I just wanted the necessities and very little else; the room forces me to declutter.”
Soloff specializes in residential interior design; contact her via her website.
Take a tour of Soloff’s friend Kathleen Whitaker’s Echo Park house in A Minimalist LA Jewelry Designer Goes Maximal and on Gardenista explore Whitaker’s Garden Oasis Indoors and Out.
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