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By Sarah Nicklin
Almost everyone dreams of having a beautiful, comfortable home that has personality and is great for entertaining; a place that is truly “theirs.” Lisa Ullmann has created just that. As the Executive Producer of “The Ricky Gervais Show,” she is full of creative ideas and thrives on bringing them to life.
After living in a one bedroom apartment in a Los Angeles duplex for many years, she was eager to purchase her own home. Even with the advantage of falling real estate prices, she was judicious in finding the right place at the right price. Practicalities and price point aside, she still wanted her place to be unique and special – and she found it in a “diamond in the rough” townhouse in Echo Park.
At first glance, the townhouse she purchased in August 2010 didn’t look like much. The colorings were drab, there was worn grey carpet throughout most of the house, and the rooms lacked the personality that Lisa had been hoping for. But there was great natural light pouring into each room, and a deck off the living room that looked out into Elysian Park and Dodger Stadium. The bones were there, but the space looked very “condo” and nondescript, not elegant or welcoming.
So Lisa enlisted the help of Jonamor Decor to re-vamp the house and breathe some life into it.
The overall goal was to create a comfortable and relaxing environment that would reflect Lisa’s many interests and styles and be welcoming for guests. Having a passion for travel, Lisa wanted to incorporate elements of some of her favorite places around the world that she had visited, specifically Italy, France and India. She wanted her home to be unique, elegant but also “user friendly.”
The first and biggest job was tearing up the old gray carpet and installing hardwood floors. In order to stay on budget, they opted to keep the stairway carpeted but replaced it with a blue-ribbed low pile. This helped set the tone for an overall color scheme and the prevailing variations of blue.
The layout of the first floor is similar to that of a traditional dollhouse with partially open rooms that line each side of the entryway. This allowed for contrasting styles of the rooms, as they would not be in conflict with each other due to the partitions between them. The dinning room, which was originally a pale peach color and hardly discernible as a dining room, is painted a rich and vibrant red. One wall is covered in dark gray diamond wallpaper, giving the room an elegant Hollywood Regency glamour. Three Morrocan style lanterns hang above the vintage wood dining room table, adding a bit more diversity to the style.
The living room, which shares a wall partition with the dining room, is filled with cool soothing tones of blue, pink, and burgundy. The room is bright and romantic, with lots of natural light coming in from the outdoor deck. An ornate Italian gold chandler hangs in the center of the room, and a gold mirror and console flank the wall facing the dining room. The shared partition wall is wallpapered with a crème, burgundy and blue paisley print that ties in the other colors. The fireplace is tiled with bright blue glass, a modern centerpiece juxtaposed against some of the more classic baroque elements.
To connect these two rooms, a medium gray was used in the entryway, covering the peach that previously covered the walls, with a lighter winter sky gray for the ceilings of all the downstairs rooms. To further unify the space, crisp white molding was used to frame each room as if a master artists’ painting.
The second floor has more of a pronounced Indian influence, particularly in the master bedroom. The wall anchoring the bed is papered with a raspberry pink and silver motif, not unlike a vibrant Sari. Turquoise velvet drapes and a large orange and gold accented chair add to the bold color scheme. The paint on the walls is a softer wafting grey, which anchors the vibrant jewel tones. The guestroom is painted a robin’s-egg-by-way-of-teal blue, with black and white delicately printed paisley curtains covering the windows. A black and glass Moroccan style lamp hangs from the ceiling and the room is flanked with two black bookcases.
Many of the central pieces to each room were vintage or purchased at discount prices. Older furniture was re-painted and re-upholstered (a used Crate and Barrel desk painted black, an ottoman from a flea market covered in a funky Indian orange fabric). The designers often turned to neighborhood stores for vintage furnishings, including the used coffee table and purple chairs from Casa Victoria in Silver Lake. Lisa not only appreciated vintage items for their price and unique appearance, but felt that buying used items was a “greener” approach.
Of all the newly purchased furniture, only the couch, a chair and a bench were “new” items.
Lisa moved into her home a year ago after the two-month long project was completed for about $30,000, which included everything from new wood floors and electrical upgrade to furniture and wallpaper.
It doesn’t take millions to transform a seemingly dull space into a dream house. All it takes is time, creativity, ingenuity, and a lot of inspiration.
Nicklen wrote this story in partnership with Ullmann.
Photos by Piper Ferguson