Feast Your Eyes On Kelly Wearstler’s Latest Project
Kelly Wearstler dreams up a color-soaked L.A. pad for a free-spirited young family
I come from a family where you went to the furniture store, you bought a set, and you brought it home,” explains comedian Sebastian Maniscalco, whose old-school Italian upbringing in the Chicago suburbs fuels his searing stand-up routines.
Needless to say, when he and artist Lana Gomez bought a new home for their soon-to-expand family (their daughter, Serafina, was born in April), he didn’t quite know what he was in for. “Decorating,” he explains, “is definitely not in my wheelhouse.”
“They both love color, and their personalities are so unique,” explains Wearstler, who worked closely with Gomez on the project. “And Lana was pretty much up for anything.” But the house itself—a Spanish-style bungalow spec home near West Hollywood that the couple chose for its open layout and blank-canvas appeal—lacked pizzazz.
To add a bit of architectural nuance, Wearstler had a few tricks up her sleeve: The rectangular front door was reshaped into an elegant arch, the switchback staircase was refashioned and lined with brass rails, and doorways into the kitchen and dining room were framed in Silver Portoro stone. A grid of Cannon/Bullock wallpaper sheets in a range of colors was applied to walls throughout the house, creating the illusion of rooms in the airy, open interior and giving the whole place a Technicolor glow. “A lot of people actually think it’s stone when they walk in,” Maniscalco says.
This is definitely one of my most playful projects.
Liberated by Gomez’s daredevil streak (she calls Italian provocateur Ettore Sottsass her “spirit animal”), Wearstler employed, with measured restraint, furnishings that are gutsy and creative. Collectible modern and postmodern trophies—Jean Royère sconces (Maniscalco jokingly calls them “scones”), Verner Panton’s Vilbert chair, an eye-popping assortment of Sottsass icons—sit with one-of-a-kind commissions from emerging talents. The leafy gesso cabinet in the living room came from Brooklyn-based createur Katie Stout. Another Brooklynite, Misha Kahn, dreamed up a plastic chandelier for the master bedroom. L.A.-based Matthew and Carly Jo Morgan devised the resin-coated Flintstones-esque credenza for the guest bedroom. And Wearstler teamed up with Echo Park legend Peter Shire (of Memphis Group fame) on a long-legged bar cabinet.
Serafina is going to grow up in a house filled with characters. Each piece looks like it could come alive.
“Kelly turned me on to a lot of these artists, and she worked with them to create things nobody has ever seen before,” Gomez says. “Serafina is going to grow up in a house filled with characters. Each piece looks like it could come alive.”
While the couple was down for decorating with art-forward furniture and blue-chip oddities, of course, there was one thing that neither Gomez nor Maniscalco wanted to budge an inch on: comfort.
“Lana and I have had sofas in our relationship where one person would be comfortable and the other would be hanging off the side,” Maniscalco says with a laugh. Their current sofas, custom-made by Wearstler and upholstered in a patterned fabric intended to diminish the seating’s hulking silhouettes, are a whopping three and a half feet deep—which happens to be the perfect measurement for lying side by side while watching a movie.
On the walls Wearstler paired Gomez’s own paintings (which she creates in her garage studio) with pieces by Op Art maestro John Townsend and rising San Francisco talent Jonathan Anzalone. Rather than use Gomez’s creations throughout the house, though, Wearstler successfully proposed turning a few of them into painterly rugs fabricated by the Rug Company.
While Wearstler’s fearless furnishing choices spoke to the couple’s dynamism, when a home is filled with such an eccentric cast a moment of controversy is inevitable. Maniscalco recalls the arrival of a lamp by Anton Alvarez, a Swedish-Chilean designer whose sculptural furnishings are made by wrapping raw materials in colorful, glue-soaked string.
“I thought it hadn’t been unpacked yet, but it turned out it was,” he says of the leggy fixture, which was intended for the living room. “Lana and I were thinking, How are we going to tell Kelly we hate this lamp? It’s just too weird.” But leave it to Wearstler to prove otherwise. Now Gomez and Maniscalco swear it’s one of their favorite things in the house.
“Kelly really educates you,” the comedian continues. “After she’s done describing something, you walk away and you’re like, ‘Yeah, that does look great.’ I feel like I got a master’s in design.”