This Author’s Home Is Filled with Reading Nooks

Christine Lennon’s space was made for eating, drinking, reading, and living.

By: Alicia Cesaro
Photography: Emily Knecht

Everything in Christine Lennon’s Los Angeles house—from the discarded carpet turned runner up the main steps, to the baby blue decades-old piano—tells a story. Pieces gathered, antiqued, eBay-ed, handed down, and DIY-ed fill up the space, which hardly screams Californian. Instead, its feel—one that gives off definite “lived in” vibes rather than “look, don’t touch” ones—could almost be mistaken for being located somewhere along the New England coast. Which is what originally drew Lennon, a writer and editor (previously of, you know, W, Vogue, and Harper’s), and her husband to the Hancock Park neighborhood.

Finding the home after years of searching in L.A. was all fine and good, but decorating it was another task altogether. While Lennon was searching for furniture and art to fill the space, the criteria was simple. “I wanted everything to have a human fingerprint on it in some way.” Although she does admit to picking up one Crate and Barrel table, but when it’s mixed in with her signature home-y high-low aesthetic (think vintage textiles from Etsy mixed with a 70s mosaic tiled table from 1stDibs) it doesn’t scream generic. Our favorite part, though? The fact that Lennon and her family 100 percent live here, they drink tequila out back by the fire pit (year-round, may we add, perk number 568 of residing in California), read in the modern light-filled back room, host dinners in their navy blue dining area, and cozy up on the peach lounge chair. In other words, they use their picturesque home for exactly what it’s meant for: living.

 

“I am a textile maniac. I love all sorts of vintage textiles, interesting prints and patterns. I had seen a stairwell with that kind of runner in a house that was designed by Commune Design, and I love Pam Shamshiri and her aesthetic. I interviewed her years ago and I remember her focus on handmade and artisanal things, so it stuck with me when I was decorating our house. Even though our house is a much more modest version of anything that she does. Her talent is beyond; our house doesn't even compare. It just planted that seed in my head on how to approach it. I wanted everything to have a human fingerprint on it in some way.”

“I was obsessed with navy and the idea of a dark dining room especially, with the white window moldings. It's Benjamin Moore Polo Blue. We painted over wallpaper, I was like, ‘let’s just see what happens.’ I’m sure there are decorators the world over who will cringe when they hear me say that. But it worked for us and we got this incredible eggshell texture, the paper absorbed the paint in a way that was interesting.”

“When we first started decorating I had a plan where I wanted everything to be handmade or secondhand. I didn't want to go to a box store—that said, I did get a fantastic dining room table from Crate and Barrel that is one of my favorite things! So I'm not dissing it completely. If 85 percent of your house has a story or something special, you can squeeze in a couple things from Room and Board and not have it be not so obviously manufactured.”

“The first thing I did when we moved in was start collecting Kilim rugs for the stairwell, which I got on eBay in various states of disrepair (when you are cutting rugs together to form a runner, you can get stuff that's not perfect). Then I was at [a] party talking to Genevieve Carter—I had known her for years, but I didn't know what she did. I told her about the patchwork stair-runner project and she was like, 'Oh my god! I worked for Commune on that house and did the stairwell! I can totally help you.' So she came in and the two of us threw these rugs down and figured out what would go where.”

“I’m happy living in a colonial, but I wanted to make sure that when you walked in the door you knew it wasn't a period piece, it wasn't an Americana, traditional space. We took the colonial and made it feel cozy, worn, and a little bit rustic, but with a modern twist.”

“I am a big fan of the Nickey Kehoe interior design shop on Beverly Blvd in L.A. The owner's aesthetic is exactly the way I want to live—interesting, colorful, a bit rustic. It's all top-of-the-line vintage and there is a patina to the things that they choose that I really like. I got the green rug in our living room there and yellow pillows on our den sofa from there. I am always going for linens or gifts!”

“I have two little kids running around and a dog, so nothing here can be too precious because we really use this house! It's not a showcase in any way. These layered textiles make you want to snuggle up with a book—and we have plenty of books! There are bookshelves in every room!”

“This Justine Kurland photograph of girls in New Zealand running across the dunes was my first art purchase. It hangs in the living room with the denim sofa and pink chair.”

“We have this kooky little piano that I found on craigslist for 200 dollars and somebody drove it down to us on the back of a pickup truck. I read this story in The New York Times about people throwing away pianos and there was this horrible picture of a piano on its side with the strings popping out, the saddest picture I'd ever seen. I became obsessed with rescuing a piano! It was stripped down, so [I] went to town and painted it. There are cigarette burns on the keys. It has a lot of character. It's one of those things that is so cheap, but has tons of character and is always a conversation starter!”

“Two pieces of art that I really love and wouldn't want to live without are the Justine Kurland photograph and the one of the boat that our friend Rob Reynolds painted. My husband got it for us for our tenth anniversary. I don't know if it's a bad sign that it's a painting of a shipwreck, but every time I look at it I see new depth in the color and that shade of blue is beautiful. If I had to grab something on my way out in a fire, I would grab that and the Kurland photograph, because it's special to me.”

“I'm a nomad in my house—if I sit in the same spot for too long, I get really antsy. When I was writing my book, [The Drifter], I used our office, the dining table, the kitchen table. Sometimes I sit—and I know a chiropractic would cringe to hear it—but I sit on the couch with a blanket, pillow on my lap and a laptop. I wrote most of the book at night when the kids were asleep, I would stay up to ungodly hours to get it done. I did my regular magazine work during the day and then the kids in the afternoon, so we’d have dinner, get them to bed. Once they were asleep I could turn off that air-traffic-controller brain where I am constantly tracking where my children are, and really focus on something creative and let my mind wander. Not worry that I'm going to forget to pick them up from school or something!”

“I also love 1stDibs...maybe a little bit too much. I got this ‘70s handmade mosaic tile table on EBay. I took it in to our wood guy, who helped us fix the legs and spiffed it up. It's one of my favorite pieces in the house.”

“There is a modern addition in the back, a den with a glass box on the walls and colorful textiles and bookshelves. That’s what sold it for me, it feels very traditional, then you go in the back and there is a great angled modern roof in the back.”

“The rug when you first walk in, on the floor, was from my mother-in-law's office. When she passed away there were a few things we took and the rug was one of them. It's part of the old-and-new feeling—I wanted everything in the house to tell a story on some level. My husband is a television writer and I am a magazine journalist and now an author, so I feel that most of the stuff that we have has some kind of story behind it.”

“My husband and I were looking for a new house for almost two years. I had walked my dog down this street because it's really shady, about ten degrees cooler on this block out of direct sun. I always had my eye on this house, it looks very sweet, comfortable, and homey! My husband is from New Jersey, so he wanted a more traditional house, I feel like my taste is more modern. It's interesting when you are in a relationship and you have to make compromises to find something that appeals to both of you. I’ve always thought that a colonial house with really good bones can take any sort of style of furniture or size. So we bought the house!”

“Our neighborhood is somewhere film crews can cheat the East Coast or Midwest, since most of the houses were built in the ‘20s and are traditional. There are lots of trees and not many palm trees.”

“I am always going to the flower market in downtown L.A. We entertain a lot outside, even in the winter if it's not raining. We use the outdoor fireplace constantly, it’s very cozy! We'll usually make a cocktail of some kind, either paper planes or something with tequila, and my husband will grill. People come with their kids and they run around in the yard or swim and the adults end up staying by the fire pit longer than we should.”

“The exterior of our home is very New England! The interior is obviously mixed, but it does feel very classic for Los Angeles. I think people picture L.A. and they think of modern box houses in the hills. One of the great things about this city is architecturally you can do whatever you feel like. If you live in Connecticut, you are not going to build a Spanish colonial. But here you can get away with anything. You have a Taj Mahal next to a Colonial house next to a Tudor, it's all mixed up.”

“I am an equal-opportunity shopper, I go high and low. I’m an Etsy maniac—I love it so much, it's kind of embarrassing. People think of it as crafts, but there is also an incredible vintage market on there.”

“We want everything in the home to remind us of a time, that is one of our priorities when we put stuff into this house.”

“I also love this shop called Lost & Found on Yucca Street. It's [a] great shop for women’s and men's clothing, and housewares. I got a Missoni blanket and a couple of pillows from there.”

“I was visiting a friend and they had a peachy pink chair in the room that looked so warm and sunny, I decided we needed a peachy chair! It might not totally fit but I love it so much I don't care! I love sitting there with a book, it makes me happy! It was looking really masculine in this room with all the blues, greens and dark wood, and so I wanted to have something more bright and feminine.”

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