A Palette of PersonalityAuthor:Abigail Stone
Transforming a builder’s special with its regulation white cabinets, silver hardware and chunky wood built-ins into a space with unique character was the challenge Taylor Anne Abess of Parlor Interiors faced when designing a house in the Hollywood Hills for her and her art curator husband. The couple, who vibrate between the vivacious art and design worlds of Miami and Los Angeles, love dynamic colors, striking statements and sophisticated, luxe details. “We took certain risks that we otherwise would be reluctant to suggest for clients,” Abess shares, “such as a white living room sofa and bespoke wallpaper within reach of toddler and an infant.” The home’s blank canvas allowed Abess and her husband to use their imagination. “Given the absence of any defining historical features, we were able to emphasize all manner of materials and textures to bring dimension and emotional resonance into an otherwise rather staid space,” she says.
Of course every project has its hurdles. In this case, they were logistical: Abess was still navigating Los Angeles’ vast design network and needed help completing the space within the four-month timeframe before she gave birth to her second child. Her husband enlisted Caitlin Murray of Black Lacquer Design to help finalize the project. “He was impressed by their ability to mobilize resources quickly and efficiently,” says Abess, applauding Murray’s ability to facilitate.
Taking a page from her husband’s work, Abess began her approach as a curator might, laying down a foundation of white and neutral tones to properly showcase curated selections. She repainted the living room’s walls in Benjamin Moore’s bright Decorator’s White to complement Restoration Hardware’s “Cloud” modular sectional, a quintet of vintage travertine tables and Lindsey Adelman’s Branching Bubbles chandelier.
Bold color was introduced around the perimeter of the room to anchor the light, neutral base. Porter Teleo’s Kintsugi wallpaper in emerald green and gold covers the fireplace wall and serves as the starting point for the built- in’s metamorphosis from clunky eyesore to a sublime focal point. Adjoining bookshelves were lacquered in a glossy green to match, black hardware was replaced with burnished brass hardware from Waterworks and bronze mirrors slipped behind cerused wood shelves that were wrapped in dusty rose textured leather. To balance the living room’s bold bookcase, Abess hung densely pleated drapes in a deep teal across the dining area’s window. She further tied the two areas together with a controlled scattering of bright, colorful accessories. Subtle tweaks bring the kitchen in line with the newly elegant space. White cabinets were softened with a custom paint that picks up the cream lines in Kelly Wearstler’s Graffito wallpaper, which dances around the top of the walls.
Another vibrant wallpaper—Andromeda by Calico—covers the walls of the entryway. More wallpaper, this one by Studio E, and a vintage pink Murano fixture, turns a small powder room into the very definition of a jewel box. A dramatic black lacquered hallway, accented with brass hardware from Buster + Punch, creates a visual transition from the bright living area to the bedrooms.
“Any space is ultimately defined and enlivened by its inhabitants,” says Abess, articulating her firm’s design philosophy. That includes the kids’ bathroom where rich glossy blue walls and gold fixtures instantly elevate an otherwise utilitarian space that will continue to shine as her sons grow into adulthood. “From a practical standpoint we chose fabrics, wallpapers and textures that work for them now but also will mature with them along the way.” Though vivid, Abess’ used of color and pattern is thoughtful and intentional. “It’s important to think through the long-term effects of a project and strike a balance between relevant and timeless.” It’s no surprise that she’s got decor down to a fine art.