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Renovating Classic Hollywood

May 1, 2017

The gentleman’s lounge juxtaposes bold colors with vintage details, like the neon clock and the pharmacy cabinet. Photographer: Mary E. Nichols

This spring marks the second year of the Wattles Mansion Designer Showcase, with a theme that reinterprets a historic home for modern times: Hollywood History – the New Classics.

Built in 1908, the Wattles Mansion was the original home of financier Gurdon Wattles, who helped bankroll early Hollywood. Designers Myron Hunt and Elmer Grey originally designed the Mission Revival home, which sits on 47 acres high above Hollywood Boulevard. Today the mansion – now owned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks – is the only remaining example of a pre-film industry Hollywood estate. The past two years of showcases have helped preserve its status as one of the finest turn-of-the-century estates in Hollywood.

KBB spoke with three of the bathroom designers, Kelley Jackson of Los Angeles-based Kelley Jackson Interior Design and Melinda Ritz and Mae Brunken of Hollywood, Calif.-based Set Decorators Society of America, to find out how they brought modern luxury into the iconic mansion. Jackson outfitted the lady’s bath, and Ritz and Brunken designed the men’s bath/lounge.

What was your goal in this space?
I wanted to create an undeniably feminine space that feels in keeping with the period of the house.”

– Kelley Jackson, Kelley Jackson Interior Design

“Our goal was to convey the story of the people who exist in the space. We wanted to create a masculine environment for our gentleman’s lounge that had a sense of both history and modern-day comfort.”

-Melinda Ritz and Mae Brunken, Set Decorators Society of America

By what were you challenged?
It was difficult finding the perfect stone sink basin – with ample counter space – that would fit on the wall and clear the existing wall heater. I also wanted to use oil-rubbed bronze for all metal finishes. Although it’s a new finish that wouldn’t have been available when the house was built, it mimics the way original brass hardware in the house has aged. The bronze finish on the faucet has a pink cast though, which makes it feel special.”

– Jackson, Kelley Jackson Interior Design

“The lavatory offered the challenge of limited useable wall space. We were able to utilize the wall space to draw attention and focus to the lounge concept.”

– Ritz and Brunken, Set Decorators Society of America

 Gilded wallpaper in the gentleman’s lounge draws out the warmth in the original hardwood flooring. Photographer: Mary E. Nichols

What materials did you use and why?
I always go for organic materials like linen, cotton, wool, leather, wood, metal and stone. I was so pleased to find the honed stone sink basin on the oil-rubbed bronze base; it felt like it could have been original to the house.”

– Jackson, Kelley Jackson Interior Design

“We chose gilded cork wallpaper as an unexpected background to strong masculine elements, such as a vintage neon clock and dark wood pharmacy cabinet. The wallpaper also helped tie in the original honey-colored wood flooring. We used a modern graphic pattern on an original Art Deco chair and revisited 1930s-style sapphire glass in a mirror, which both opened up the room and became a focal point. These choices provided the sense of old and new.”

– Ritz and Brunken, Set Decorators Society of America

The pink color of the lady’s lounge is continued even onto the faucet, which was provided by Snyder Diamond. Photographer: Mary E. Nichols

What was your favorite part of this project?
I’ve been obsessed with pink and brown since I purchased the striped Navajo blanket on the back of the chair, so pink and brown were my springboard color palette. I jumped at the opportunity to create a pink room. I was thrilled to incorporate my favorite period of furniture, as well as the decorative arts made in California in the 1920s and 1930s – including Monterey pieces, Bauer Pottery and artwork depicting places in and around Los Angeles.”

– Jackson, Kelley Jackson Interior Design

“Our favorite part of the project was installation day and seeing all of the elements come together.”

– Ritz and Brunken, Set Decorators Society of America

Sponsors for the 2017 Wattles Mansion Showcase House include Snyder Diamond, Sub-Zero/Wolf, Sherwin-Williams, LAYKIN et Cie, City of Los Angeles and City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks. In addition, this year’s showcase house will benefit three charities: No-Kill Los Angeles (NKLA), Save Iconic Architecture Projects (SIA) and Los Angeles Parks Foundation. Tickets to the Wattles Mansion Showcase can be purchased here: https://wattlesmansionshowcase.ticketleap.com/wattles-mansion-designer-showcase-2017-hollywood-history-and-th/ and are also available at the door. Wattles Mansion is located at 1824 N Curson Ave., Los Angeles 90046.