A designer's home is filled with timeless touches
Pretty Spanish-Style Home
For a house that was intended to be a brief layover for designer Ryan White and his partner, Warren Cohn, their 1926 West Hollywood home feels more enduring than transitory. “We thought we’d only be here for a year or so, while we renovated a house in the Hollywood Hills,” Ryan says. “Even so, I wanted it to be a comfortable place where we could relax—a place that felt like home.”
And that is just what it has become. After accepting an offer they couldn’t refuse on the property they’d been planning to renovate, this temporary abode has become their more permanent residence.
Located in a little niche of Los Angeles known for its oversized lots and 1920s architecture, the Spanish-style house hides behind a high hedge—private and a bit enigmatic. “I used to walk my dogs by this house and try to peek through the hedge,” the designer confesses. “I daydreamed about living here.”
Now that he does, the home has taken on a personality that reflects its inhabitants—and belies its once transitional status. Timeless elements add a depth and personality that is anything but fleeting. A Milo Baughman coffee table adds vintage appeal to the living room. A refinished T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings coffee table shines in the atrium. A Karl Springer scroll table brings curvaceous appeal to the home’s galley kitchen.
“Pieces with history are important to the mix,” Ryan explains. “I like spaces that make you feel as if you’re being transported to another place or time, depending on the pieces in the room.”
Photography: Michael Garland
Produced by Darra Baker
Interior design: Ryan White, Ryan White Designs, 755 N. Crescent Heights Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90046; 303/819-5950, ryanwhitedesigns.com .
Tailored Living Room
Vintage or new, edgy or classic, introverted or extroverted, each piece lives amicably here, and all are held together by a palette that never strays far from neutral. “I’m kind of obsessed with gray,” laughs Ryan. “I start with a light gray, or a white with some gray in it. I then add color and texture—a blue velvet or a beautiful linen. Those details make a huge difference.”
In the vaulted living room, those details come not only in the form of vintage furniture but also in bold stripes and sentimental pieces. An Ernest Holzman photograph purchased by Warren at a charity auction became the room’s touchstone. Hung above the fireplace, it inspired the room’s casual yet dramatic aesthetic.
The living room is a study in high and low, patinated and polished. Navy club chairs not only ground the room but also offer rich contrast. “I upholstered them in denim and then added velvet cushions piped with denim,” Ryan says. “They’re tailored but casual. They add to the story of the room, so that it’s not one note, but a symphony of notes.”
“The beams in the living room are fantastic,” Ryan says. “They give the room a Nantucket cottage-like feel.”
Living Room Bookcase
Dark stripes and metal bookcases lined with art play off the tones of the photograph above the mantel while balancing the cottage-like playfulness of the ceiling’s white beams.
Living Room Chest
Complementing the navy club chairs is a vintage chest Ryan lacquered in red. An american flag pillow on a chair from H.D. Buttercup adds a touch of Americana.
Passionate hosts, the couple designed each space with guests in mind. An enclosed atrium acts not only as a space for private lounging but also as an oasis where guests unfailingly gather. Floor pillows offer extra seating around the T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings coffee table. Scored at a vintage shop and given a refinished base—in gray, of course—the table plays off the room’s Moroccan flavor.
“It’s evolved into the room where people hang out the most,” the designer says of the cool atrium. “When the candles are lit, you feel like you’re in an enchanted garden. It’s a different world."
A collection of mirrors from Big Daddy Antiques reflect candlelight and add to the enchanted feel.
Multi-Purpose Breakfast Nook
In the kitchen, a chevron-patterned rug sets the stage for an area that multitasks as a breakfast nook and bar. A vintage console acts as an island, narrow enough for the galley kitchen yet powerful enough to dominate the space. A Karl Springer table, a ship’s brass lantern-turned-pendant, and art from Hugo Guinness pack a dramatic punch in the tiny space.
Instead of the traditional round table, Ryan chose an entertaining-friendly bar for the breakfast nook.
Cozy, Casual Dining Room
In the dining room, comfort is front and center. Ryan paired a rustic wood table with tailored nailhead-trimmed chairs. To keep it cozy and casual, captain’s chairs were slipcovered. Drama is injected through a navy-and-white striped rug. “It definitely has more of a voice here,” notes the designer. “I’m a big believer in starting with the rug. Everything else will come into play.”
A scalloped-shade pendant light from Empiric Studio brings elegance and a feeling of softness into the space. The rug is from Williams-Sonoma.
In the home’s more private spaces, design rules took a backseat—and necessity bred invention. In need of an office workspace that could accommodate them both, the homeowners went on the hunt for a partners desk that didn’t seem to exist. “We couldn’t find a desk anywhere,” Ryan recalls. “We also had a dilemma about where to put the dog crates. We decided to simply add a glass top to the crates and move them to the middle of the room. It’s ingenious, really. The dogs always want to be at our feet anyway.”
Labrador retrievers Wriley and Cooper feel right at home here, where their cages support the glass slab that makes a partners desk.
“I just wanted to have fun with this space,” Ryan says. A vintage car door serving as a blackboard and a vase filled with oversized pencils certainly add to the fun.
Guests can literally count sheep (one!) in the guest bedroom. A vintage bench sits at the end of the bed where patterns are at play; striped and toile pillows mix with a tribal pattern blanket from Pendleton.
Streamlined Master Bedroom
More streamlined but no less inventive, the master bedroom acts as a clean-lined endnote to the house. Inviting blues carry over from other rooms. Vintage chests refinished in contrasting tones offer symmetry as updated nightstands.
A soothing mix of blues brings the home’s palette full circle. Ryan emphasized the room’s clean lines by painting the ceiling beams and the fireplace a high-gloss navy blue.
A leather folding screen given new life as a headboard draws the eye to high-gloss beams that in turn lead to a fireplace painted the same moody blue—theatrical and unexpected.
Master Bedroom Sitting Area
“I wanted to accentuate the great old bones,” Ryan says of his home. “This house has so much charm and character. At the same time, I wanted the design to feel that it was about the people living here now.”
A pair of leather chairs from Empiric Studio cozy up to the hearth in the master bedroom.
A neutral palette with hints of gray give the bath a serene feel. The door lets in abundant light and leads to the pool outside.
Crate & Barrel chaises grace a pool just steps from the master bedroom. Lush greenery surrounding the pool creates an intimate space.
Designer-homeowner Ryan White, right, with partner Warren Cohn.