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Built-In Style

  • By Rory Evans
  • Photos by Matthew Williams

Texture, warmth, and personal history transformed this contemporary house in the hills of Los Angeles into a cheerful family home.

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They knew they would have to move. The house Jessica de Ruiter, a fashion stylist, and Jed Lind, an artist, lived in was just 950 square feet. With a baby on the way, they knew their beloved bungalow was simply too small. The couple wanted to stay in their general area, the Los Feliz and Silver Lake neighborhoods of Los Angeles, but there was very little on the market that they liked. Then one morning, upon clicking through yet another of their realtor’s bot-generated e-mails featuring the day’s new listings, they saw it. “And I think we e-mailed each other at the exact same time,” Lind recalls. “We knew we had to see this place.” The airy, sun-bathed house had the minimalist design and mid- century architecture they love. With 2,000 square feet built on three levels nestled on a hill, it was a complete departure from the traditional houses they’d always known—not only their cozy bungalow but also the ones in which they’d grown up, in the same neighbor- hood of Toronto. And while some glassy, boxy architecture can feel sterile or severe, “this place felt warm and welcoming,” says de Ruiter. “It was modern but livable,” Lind adds. They could easily envision having a family there (and sure enough, their daughter, James, was born in 2011, not long after they bought it). Of course, given the age of the house—it was designed by Gregory Ain and James H. Garrott in 1953 for an artist—there was some work to do. Most of the various built-ins, for instance, were original to the architects’ plans but had seen better days (and had been refinished and pickled by the previous owners). And because of their collective attention to detail—Lind’s a sculptor and an installation artist, and de Ruiter styles photo shoots—they painstakingly selected specific materials they knew would add warmth and age and change over time: marine-grade Douglas fir plywood, unlacquered brass, and slabs of marble veined with gold. “It’s not zing-zangy at all,” Lind says.

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Cheerful Family Home

Cheerful Family Home

Jed Lind and Jessica de Ruiter in the family room of their home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.

Wide Open

Wide Open

Given how much they love the afternoon light and view, above, de Ruiter and Lind decided to forgo any window treatments. “It does feel private—you just can’t imagine that other people have telescopes,” de Ruiter jokes. They finished the deck with Moroccan-inspired green-and-white tiles in a diamond pattern echoing that of several rugs inside.

Double Up

Double Up

The office doubles as a guest room, thanks to a discreet Murphy bed and pull-out side tables in the wall unit. Lind built the L-shaped desk himself to allow for the footprint of the bed. When family visits from Canada, all the couple has to do is move the two Kaare Klint midcentury Danish safari chairs and the wooden table.

As much as they hewed to the original drawings, their two-year renovation incorporated many respectful updates. The original cushions on the built-in sofa were firm foam atop a plywood plank—not the most comfortable spot to plop down on. So they had an upholsterer make down-filled cushions and install springs underneath. The kitchen, too, needed a minor face-lift. “Although the peninsula was always there, we decided to do it with a marble ‘waterfall’ side in a specific slab of Carrara that had warmer veining, because we liked it with the golden tones of the Douglas fir,” de Ruiter says. All throughout the house, they repeated textures and tones to take the chill and sharp edges out of what de Ruiter jokingly refers to as “living in a white box.” The kitchen and windows have unlacquered brass hardware (daily use and time will naturally patinate the metal), and the living spaces are softened with Belgian linen, nubby textiles, and vintage kilim rugs. But perhaps most important, the hills and gardens are visible through the vast windows in most rooms of the house, a simple pleasure that makes all of the time and work well worth it—just as they had imagined.

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Small and Cozy

Small and Cozy

James’s playroom had an angled wall the couple didn’t like, so they built a wall unit with a daybed and bookshelves to square it off.“It’s such a cozy spot to read with James,” de Ruiter says. They unified mismatched children’s chairs they’d collected at various flea markets with a coat of paint. Lind made the table.

Counter Intel

Counter Intel

Jed Lind and Jessica de Ruiter used Carrara marble for the counters and the “waterfall” end of the dining peninsula. “We wanted the marble to separate the kitchen from the rest of the living area,” Lind says.

Get the Look

"We wanted the house to have three things: a bohemian feel, tribal elements, and pattern," Lind says. That was all it took to make a classically spare midcentury house feel inviting and family-friendly. Here's how the couple thought outside the box. 

  • Bring In Pattern
    Bring In Pattern

    "The geometric tile looks like textile on the terrace," Lind says. "Gray and white might have been safer, but I like how the green connects with the outdoors."

  • Add Warmth With Brass
    Add Warmth With Brass

    Throughout the house, they have accents of brass, like this bedside lamp. Lind prefers unlacquered satin brass: "It's beautiful metal, and when it ages on its own, it only gets better."

  • Marble Trivet
    Marble Trivet

    Marble slab trivet with leather back, by Fort Standard, $85. 

  • Introduce Texture
    Introduce Texture

    "Originally I was not a huge fan of the white cinder block," de Ruiter says. Wherever it appears in the house, they try to soften it –– like with this beduoin rug they got on their honeymoon in Siwa Oasis, Egypt. 

  • Maximize Marble and Stone
    Maximize Marble and Stone

    "Natural stone looks so elegant," de Ruiter says. "It's dramatic and beautiful." For the powder room, they chose a heavy slab of travertine with a golden hue. 

  • Bring In Pattern
    Bring In Pattern

    "The geometric tile looks like textile on the terrace," Lind says. "Gray and white might have been safer, but I like how the green connects with the outdoors."

  • Introduce Texture
    Introduce Texture

    "Originally I was not a huge fan of the white cinder block," de Ruiter says. Wherever it appears in the house, they try to soften it –– like with this beduoin rug they got on their honeymoon in Siwa Oasis, Egypt. 

  • Add Warmth With Brass
    Add Warmth With Brass

    Throughout the house, they have accents of brass, like this bedside lamp. Lind prefers unlacquered satin brass: "It's beautiful metal, and when it ages on its own, it only gets better."

  • Maximize Marble and Stone
    Maximize Marble and Stone

    "Natural stone looks so elegant," de Ruiter says. "It's dramatic and beautiful." For the powder room, they chose a heavy slab of travertine with a golden hue. 

  • Marble Trivet
    Marble Trivet

    Marble slab trivet with leather back, by Fort Standard, $85. 

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Comments (7)

  • 10 Mar, 2014

    This home looks awesome!

  • 18 Jan, 2014

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  • 7 Nov, 2013

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  • 3 Oct, 2013

    It's all so lovely. I love the use of the golden, warm wood and delicate use of live green plants.

  • 28 Sep, 2013

    thank you you likeee:) tv izle

  • 26 Sep, 2013

    love this new site design! Oh, and the home is pretty too :)

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