We’ve all been there. One member of the household wants layered and lived-in while another prefers spare and conceptual. Los Angeles designer Joe Lucas, co-owner of the West Hollywood design shop Harbinger, and partner David Heikka, senior manager of international store design and visual concept at Juicy Couture, are no exception. When they moved into their 1920s French Normandy-style apartment 21/2 years ago, each had his own ideas for rehabilitating the top-floor unit with its views of the Hollywood Hills. Laughs Joe, “We had vision, just different visions. David loves spare and calm. I tend to like more layers and some pattern.”
But, as often happens with cooking, music, and many other creative pursuits, Joe and David managed to use their differing viewpoints to create a fresh synergy. They focused on their shared love of artwork in quirky yet calm colorways, defining, in a way, the spirit of “new traditional.”
Starting with the sizable sunlit living room, the two agreed they could reconcile their ideas using a calming color. They chose a chalky gray hue paired with clean white trim that would highlight not only the collections displayed in the room’s original built-in niches but the views through the large-paned -windows.
The enveloping gray provides a fresh yet neutral backdrop for a jaunty mix of bold artwork and furnishings spanning all eras. Setting the tone is a big abstract painting of bold black-and-white brushstrokes by fellow designer Jamie Bush. Notes Joe, “Our most important pieces are the massive Franz Kline-style painting by Jamie over our sofa and the very organic painting by Alex Mason over the bar in the dining room. Both artists are great friends of ours,” he adds, “and it’s nice to be surrounded by work from people you love and respect.”
Above the fireplace mantel just opposite the Jamie Bush abstract is another hanging—an all-white piece of plasterwork that David kept from his retail merchandising days. Both Joe and David love its interesting texture. On the once bright-orange store prop, David decided to lay a thick layer of white paint to bring out the piece’s sculptural forms. “It’s as though someone has run their fingers through thick white frosting,” he says. Chimes in Joe, “Actually, white plaster is kind of a through-line for our apartment.” Shapely white pottery is not only found atop a pair of industrial étagères flanking the large living room window but is also scattered throughout the living quarters.
Sure-handed hits of color and character enliven the gray of the living room. There are the acid-yellow cushion and interesting legs of the square vintage coffee table, the oversized tangerine lamp, the shiny leather upholstery, and, tossed about, a few Brandolini pillows in primitive patterns.
But the dining room is where the pair went all-out with color and pattern. Amid the zigzag stripes of muted lilac and gray-blue wallpaper sits a roomy dining table surrounded by chic French armchairs from the 1940s with sea-grass seats and backs. The ceiling is a dusky lavender trimmed in high-gloss black and punctuated with a white gesso-coated wave chandelier. “The dining room sits in the middle of the house and is a throughway,” notes Joe, “so we wanted it to really have its own personality. Thus the wild herringbone Idarica Gazzoni wallpaper.”
To calm the huge horizontal zigs and zags yet add to dining drama, Joe brought in a massive custom Swedish-style carved mirror that leans against the wall from floor to almost ceiling height, attracts light, and reflects more color-saturated art on the opposite wall.
Dramatic color and texture continue into the master bedroom. Both Joe and David wanted a dark wall color and chose black chalkboard paint counterpointed with acidic mustard linen curtains and salon-style walls slung with artwork collected together over time. Says Joe of their growing art collection: “That is one thing we agree on most of the time. We have a real mix of stuff—etchings of sailboats, moody portraits of crazy old ladies and serious old men, colorful abstracts in oil and pastels, and some personal pieces mixed in. A pastel of a paper bag in our bedroom was done by my über-talented niece. I begged her to sell it to me so I could give it to David for Christmas. There are also a few of my grandfather’s paintings.”
Fitting for a Jazz Age French-style salon in the heart of Hollywood, the apartment reflects a sense of joie de vivre. Here is a new traditional style that celebrates the harmony of contrasts and complements. Vive la différence!
Photography: Karyn R. Millet
Interior design: Joe Lucas, Lucas Studio Inc., 752 N. La Cienega Blvd., West Hollywood, CA 90069; 310/858-6884, lucasstudioinc.com, and Harbinger, harbingerla.com.