Maria's “Oh So You” Bungalow

Maria's “Oh So You” Bungalow

Gregory Han
Mar 29, 2008

Name: Maria
Location: Silver Lake, Los Angeles, California
Style: 1922 California Bungalow rental
Years lived in: 1.5 years

This might have been the easiest house tour we’ve ever been invited over to shoot, not only because Maria’s eclectic 1920’s bungalow glows and glistens inside and out with eye-catching color, but also because she literally lives one block over from us. Greeted by two friendly canines and a richly painted red door, we slipped inside to learn how a former Manhattanite made a brand new start in her vibrant modern-Marrakesh home with natural aplomb…

Maria's style: Eclectic, modern-ish, whimsical.

Inspiration for my home: The house itself kind of tells you what will work and what won’t. It’s a small space but there’s a lot of light, so that was one inspiration. I clip articles from the British magazine, Living Etc. and I love anything designed by Tricia Guild, Apartment Therapy, Domino magazine. I guess those are inspirations. I certainly have enough clippings from the magazines.

Mostly, I work at home, so the place has to be clean and welcoming. Though I admit I spend a lot of time redecorating and playing around with stuff. This is because I work at home and I’m supposed to be writing. I guess procrastination is my inspiration.

Favorite Element: White is my favorite color and it works here with accent colors. Pink is my other favorite color, but I think it works with the white. Everything in the house is from Ikea except for the silver chairs; they’re from India and I got them at a sample sale downtown. But for some reason no one ever thinks everything is from Ikea.

My other favorite element is the indoor/outdoor aspect of the place. I’m from Manhattan and I can’t get over that I can be outside so much. There’s even an orange and a lemon tree in my front yard. Incredible.

Believe it or not, most of my front stoop has all fake flowers in pots. I am the worst gardener ever. I can’t keep anything alive. I talk to the plants a lot but then I forget to water them. I like my fake flowers, I think they’re funny.

Biggest Challenge In Designing My Home: How to best to use the space. I love to give parties so it has to accommodate anywhere from 10 – 30 people at a time and that’s not always easy because there’s just the couch, one chair and the dining room chairs. Luckily I have a big porch.

Also, I refused a dishwasher because it would reorient the kitchen. That means I do a lot of dishes.

What Friends Say About My Home: Oh, Maria, it’s so “you”!

Biggest Embarrassment: Too many pillows. Too much clutter, too many magazines. Too many vases. Too many linens, I don’t have enough beds to use all of them!

The bathroom is a nothing. But I am going to paint it high gloss black. I really don’t know why, since I am mostly afraid of wall color, but I just have the urge.

Proudest DIY: The whole place is DIY, but my favorite things are the framed photos in the dining room. I used gorgeous Indian paper that I got in Paris and used it as mats in between plain plexi-frames that I got at Aaron Brothers. I’m also proud of the fact that I have spent so little money. I’m always in the "As Is" section at Ikea.

Biggest Indulgence: Fresh flowers every week. I get them at the Silver Lake Farmer’s Market from the Silver Lake Farms stand.

Best Advice Given or Received: My mother is an amazing designer and decorator, and knows how to sew everything from slipcovers to drapes. She also knows how to paint, strip furniture and refinish. I can’t do anything. But she always has candles and flowers so I copied her. Her only advice has ever been: follow your own vision. My advice is: don’t let your furniture have more fun than you do. If you’re worried about wine on the sofa, you need a different sofa.

Dream Source: Lost and Found on Yucca Street in Hollywood, Distant on Sunset Blvd. If I were rich, that’s where you’d find me. I also love some of the things at Anthropologie.


Appliances: Everything came with the house. I don’t really have any appliances.

Furniture: Ikea…

Accessories: Ikea, yard sales, Urban Outfitters.

Lighting: Ikea and on the porch, the lovely hanging lamps are from PBTeen, one of my favorite sites. If you take that stuff out of it’s teen/cheesy context, it can look fantastic. The lighted globes are from I also have them hanging from the orange tree in the front yard and they’ve lasted a full year and a half. They’re on a timer and come on every evening.

Paint: My Landlady. Isn’t she nice? I painted the built in bookshelves though, they were brown wood and I hate brown. I used Benjamin Moore high gloss white. It’s really for window trim.

The floor of the deck is Benjamin Moore something or another but it hasn’t turned out to be as tough as it was supposed to be. I will paint it again using marine paint.

Flooring: Plain hard wood. Came like this. I wish I could paint the bedroom floors white…

Rugs and Carpets: None. I have dogs, there’s enough hair, fur and fuzzy stuff as it is.

Window Treatments: Oh, my one indulgence in the living room and bedroom: silk trading company drapes left over from when I lived in NYC. Otherwise, Ikea.

Bed: 1800Mattress…and Ikea.

Artwork: The artwork is almost all original, most of the photographs are my own. The Gloria Steinem in the living room came from a theatre show I went to see; I contacted the production designer, asked him for a copy of the image, then took it to the art department of the TV show I was working on and had them print it out huge like that. It’s like a homemade Warhol. It’s always a delight when younger friends say it’s Janis Joplin and then ask who Gloria Steinem is.

I also have a painting by the young painter Helen Garber and photos by Marianne Courville, whose work has changed dramatically in the past ten years.

I don’t have enough wall space for all the art I have – the bedrooms are mostly bare because I need to feel calm and too much on the walls makes me anxious.

Other: I got the stacked bookshelves from West Elm. They’re okay, not as strong as the ones from DWR, but those were too expensive.

I’m always changing things. It’s ridiculous. I need to get a job. Then the house will remain the same for a while. I feel so lucky to wake up here every day.

Finally, the house is so beautiful in the evening.

*Thanks to Maria for inviting us for a visit and also for the bag of tasty sweet oranges from her garden!

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