Written by Lisa Cregan
Photography by Grey Crawford
Produced by Jenny Bradley
Every morning, on his way to the office inside his new Pacific Palisades home, songwriter Matthew Gerrard strides past his gleaming “Hall of Guitars.” The colorful array neatly illustrates the way L.A. designer Jeff Andrews—decorator to talents like Ryan Seacrest, Michael C. Hall, and even a Kardashian or two—goes about creating inspiring homes for creative people.
“I think there should be something interesting to see everywhere you look,” Andrews says. “The creative process needs energy and visual interest just as much as a home needs function and livability.” And what could be more inspiring for the songwriter/producer of music for hits like Hannah Montana and High School Musical than passing the sleek tools of his trade on his way to work every day? “I’ll just grab one of the guitars off the wall, depending on my mood, and go into my office,” says Matthew. And then—magic happens.
Actually, thanks to Andrews, magic happens everywhere here.
Matthew’s partner in music and in life, singer Ashley Saunig, first contacted the designer after she compiled a list of the couple’s furnishings suitable for the elegant new house they’d just purchased. “There was nothing! Jeff had a blank slate!” Ashley laughs.
“It was a designer’s dream,” agrees Andrews. “A builder’s spec house but with quality finishes throughout. It was a beautiful white canvas. I’m so proud of the way it turned out—traditional, yet fun and funky.”
The home’s unique decor is apparent as soon as the door swings open in the distinguished fieldstone facade. Rather than the usual center-hall-table-with-mirror combo, visitors walk into a full-on furnished room. It’s a dazzling combination of vintage chairs, a refurbished midcentury Danish settee, and ultra-modern rugs. “The entry is now a wonderful sitting room,” says Andrews. “It’s a newer, fresher version of an old-school parlor.”
The designer bent the “traditional rules” wherever he could to give the house a spirit befitting his young clients. “It wasn’t ever about him,” says Ashley. “Jeff was forever asking us to tell him what felt right to us.”
That active dialogue became especially critical when it was time to choose materials. “We’re vegetarians and animal lovers. We wanted everything animal-friendly,” explains Ashley. No leather, no fur, no skin. “That must have been limiting for Jeff,” Matthew says, “but I find as an artist, when you have limitations, it can be good. It helps you stretch and come up with things you might not have thought of otherwise.”
Perhaps he means things like the eye-catching life-size bronze cranes in the dining room. Or the living room hearth’s sculpture of a cat staring up at a gold metallic elk on the coffee table. There’s a porcelain bird lamp in the library, three leaping dolphins on an entry table, and some partridges in the master bedroom. And, adds Matthew, “I think the chandeliers in the entry and upstairs hall look like sea urchins.”
“Oh gosh, it is a menagerie! It was not premeditated, I promise!” laughs Andrews. “I guess it just felt right to choose accessories that spoke to Ashley and Matthew’s passion for animals.”
Most of the zoological accessories are midcentury treasures the designer found on what he describes as his “obsessive” antiques and thrift store crawls. “The architecture of this house is deeply traditional, so I thought our design needed a little funkiness, a little vintage flair,” he explains. “For example, the table outside the breakfast room has such an Old Hollywood look. You could see Joan Crawford sitting there as easily as this young couple.”
For continuity, Andrews gave every room some variation on the same soothing color palette of soft blue, green, and sand. “I wanted the whole house to flow and have harmony, even though each room has its own identity,” he explains, “I used colors with good flavor—warm and inviting. I don’t think super-high contrast is ever easy to live with.”
What is easy to live with is the transformation brought about by the couple’s 1931 Steinway grand piano. “Pianos are a pretty standard piece in living rooms,” says Andrews. “But when you put a piano into the living room of a songwriter, and he sits down and starts playing, it changes the vibe of the house completely.”
Three months ago, the house’s vibe got another shock when Ashley and Matthew welcomed baby Zac into their lives. “When I brought Zac home, it was amazing,” says Ashley. “The family room already felt like a family room. I’m sure some things will change as we grow into the house, but essentially it still looks like it did on that first day. We brought a baby home, and nothing needed to change!”
“That’s so gratifying to me as a designer,” says Andrews. “It means I left everything exactly the way it was meant to be.”
Interior designer: Jeff Andrews, Jeff Andrews-Design, 354 W. Ave. 42, Los Angeles, CA 90065; 323/227-9777, www.jeffandrews-design.com.
Wallpaper (“Malabar”/Sage, Pale Blue #66/1005, by Cole and Son): Lee Jofa, 800/453-3563, www.leejofa.com.
Area rug (“Madison Square,” dull silk #TPQEPHUG00PAN): Tai Ping, 800/666-4884, www.taipingcarpets.com.
Dining table (custom pedestal base table): Dos Gallos, 323/851-9117, www.dosgallos.com.
Dining chairs (“Loop-Back Chairs” #2004-206A): Councill Furniture, 336/859-2155, www.councill.com.
Chair fabric (“Galaxy”/Andromede #850005-01): Rogers & Goffigon, 203/532-8068.
Chandelier (“Metropolitan White Porcelain Chandelier” #ME-N950127): Lighting Showroom.com, 888/488-0885, www.lightingshowroom.com.
Window seat cushion (“Highlands”/Green, Gray #2331/02, colorway discontinued): Rose Tarlow-Melrose House, 323/651-2202, www.rosetarlow.com.
Natural linen pillow (“Liaigre Linen”/Brousse #10001/01, discontinued): Holly Hunt, 312/661-1900, www.hollyhunt.com.
Sage pillow (“Eternity”/Sage #1476): Pindler & Pindler, 805/531-9090, www.pindler.com.
Teal pillow (“Silk Velvet”/Teal #JW5118, by Jasper, discontinued): Michael Smith Inc., 310/315-3028, www.michaelsmithinc.com. Available through Thomas Lavin, 310/278-2456, www.thomaslavin.com.
Pair of 1950s bronze cranes (vintage): 1st Leap Inc., 310/289-0002, www.1stleapinc.com.
Shades (“Panama” #9213, Woven Woods & Grass Weaves Collection): Fashion Tech, 800/444-8822, www.fashiontech.com.