An old industrial building receives a modern update
Built in 1925, the handsome and historic industrial Biscuit Company Lofts building housing the loft was originally home to the West Coast headquarters of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco). In a mission to help transform downtown Los Angeles from a place for strictly 9-to-5 business activity to a vibrant 24-hour residential area, the building was gutted and converted into 104 residential lofts as the first step of this renaissance.
Interior design: Kenneth Brown, Kenneth Brown Design, Los Angeles, CA; 323/525-0204, kennethbrowndesign.com.
Photography: Grey Crawford
This photograph: Courtesy of Biscuit Company Lofts; biscuitcompanylofts.com 
Interior designer Kenneth Brown wanted the living room to mix textures. A large-scale pattern on the walls helps to keep the space grounded. Kenneth’s technique for creating small “rooms” within the vast floor space was to use movable walls. Take the living room and kitchen, which share the first floor. The installation of a flowing floor-to-ceiling curtain between the two gives each room a sense of privacy. Two patterns—a formal, tone-on-tone wallpaper and a warm plaid in eggplant, green, and taupe used on both the back of the fabric partition and on the window panels—bridge the design scheme. Enhancing the soft-wall effect, the oversized damask wallpaper visually cushions hard architectural elements—and keeps attention from heading straight out the window.
In a city that is all about breaking the rules, Kenneth nonetheless stuck to some of his own for this project. One of them is that to achieve a transitional look, each classic element must be counterbalanced by a modern one. So on the expanse of updated damask that covers the walls, a collection of black-and-white photographs contributes a slight edge and artful volume. Stately tufted benches are given a va-va-va-voom surge with hot red-leather seats.
Stainless steel cabinetry and a modern apple-green glass backsplash echo the building’s industrial locale. A mahogany pedestal table, chairs in classic black velvet, and a chandelier with black crystals ground the room in timelessness. A rug in an oversized houndstooth pattern softens the commercial surfaces in the kitchen and enhances the classic quality of the table and chairs.
To balance the steel cabinetry on the facing wall, Kenneth added matching mirror-framed mirrors and a vintage motorcycle that speaks to the clean-cut but edgy personality he gave to his imaginary client.
Departing from the deep purple that saturates the rest of the apartment, the entry and staircase were kept a clean white, serving as a clean background from which artwork could show nicely.
A walk up the staircase reveals a painted black console and a round mirror suspended from the ceiling with a black chain. On one side of a drapery made from black waxed linen sit an Asian-influenced console, copper lamps, and a round mirror.
On the second level, Kenneth used his soft-wall concept to give the bedroom an entry space as well as to define the parameters of a home office so that it doesn’t disturb the sleeping quarters—a design no-no that Kenneth always tries to avoid. A faux-crocodile bed is topped with a sexy faux-fur blanket. A map of Paris cut into pieces and framed in black is a twist on the black-and-white photographs hung in the living room.
A desk and black-leather armchair offer a workspace between the two areas, which are tied together with a fuchsia-and-black paisley wallpaper. Matching brass floor lamps are placed in adjoining spaces—next to the office desk and beside matching tufted chairs in the bedroom of the second floor.
Interior designer Kenneth Brown.