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Explore a 1940s Home Transformed Through Color & Art

By Alexandria Abramian | December 24, 2018 | Home & Real Estate

Bright bursts of color jolt a 1940s traditional into the modern-day moment.

chroma-home.jpgArt stars in the living room of this Hancock Park home where a color-punched piece by So Jun Wu and Andy Warhol’s “Truck” flank the fireplace; Woodson and Rummerfield designed the custom emerald-green sofa.

The first clue that a quiet riot of color exists within starts at the front door: Painted Hermès orange, it offers a high-octane shot of pigment to the otherwise neutral facade of this 1940s Fremont Place home. Once beyond the threshold, however, all such restraint disappears, as decorating power duo Jaime Rummerfield and Ron Woodson opted for the full rainbow treatment throughout the 6,000-square-foot compound.

“The client wanted to keep the integrity of the architecture and the classicism of the exterior, but on the inside, she wanted a clean canvas to display her art,” says Woodson of the client’s collection of original Warhols, Basquiats and Hirsts. “Usually people do the art last in a home; here we did it first, and in every case, the art helped inform the hits of color we did in that space. She was the right kind of client for this approach: In every meeting, I never saw her with the same Birkin bag.”

chroma-home-2.jpgThe designers kept the home’s original Lucite and brass swag balustrade while adding a splash with Diane von Furstenberg’s Climbing Leopard rug and Andy Warhol’s Marilyn series.

In taking an art-first approach to decorating the home that was previously owned by actors Angela Bassett and husband Courtney Vance, the designers cast color throughout. Included in the mix is Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe, 1967 screenprinted series hanging above the staircase. Taking their hue cues from the iconic pop art pieces, the designers then paired the Marilyns with Diane von Furstenberg’s emerald-toned Climbing Leopard rug for a powerful punch underfoot. More method to the colorful madness follows suit in other spaces. In the dining room, a sprawling blue and silver piece by American street artist Retna converses with a burst of royal-blue upholstery on the dining room chairs, while a sequence of Damien Hirst jewel-toned Butterfly paintings in the library contrasts against rich aubergine walls.

Perhaps no other space captures this art- and color-forward decorating spirit better than the living room. There, gallery-white walls provide a surface against which art, furniture and accessories can all pop, from the trio of footstools covered in yellow, blue and white Hermès fabric to the 14-foot, custom-made, serpent-shaped emerald sofa with a brass base. A lemon-yellow portrait by So Jun Wu and Andy Warhol’s “Truck” flank the fireplace, where other tactical touches of color make for a rainbow that ultimately speaks restraint rather than Romper Room. In the kitchen, the designers took a break from jewel tones and cast the entire space in black and white with the exception of a metallic-looking backsplash.

chroma-home-3.jpgAubergine walls up the drama in the library-study, which was formerly the home’s dining room.

This boldness is the reason Woodson & Rummerfield has become the go-to firm for clients looking for the “more look.” Since founding their firm in the early 2000s, the pair has been tapped to design homes for movie and music-industry titans, including Christina Aguilera, whose Beverly Hills manse featured a kaleidoscope of color, as well as Courtney Love. For the Hole musician, they created a colorful home layered with traditional elements sprinkled with a quiet dusting of gothic accents. The two also brought their high-impact design to more than a dozen condominiums in The Ritz-Carlton Residences at LA Live after they were hired to decorate the model unit, where they opted for a striking palette of silvers and purples. “We call it ‘turning up the volume’ when we feel that clients are going to be open to more, rather than less,” says Rummerfield.

Occasionally, a little restraint is called for. The upper level of the Fremont Place project marks a shift from bold to quieter tones. “The bedrooms still have color, but we modulated it for more tranquil spaces,” says Woodson, adding that they also incorporated Hollywood-era pieces, such as the vintage chandelier designed for decorating legend Dorothy Draper in the master bedroom. “Those kinds of elements give a nod to the era of the home, as well as to Fremont Place, where people like Mary Pickford lived.” Such architectural and historical details are not only part of the duo’s decorating focus, but also the cornerstone of their personal mission. In 2016, Woodson and Rummerfield founded Save Iconic Architecture, a nonprofit dedicated to bringing awareness and action to preserving endangered architectural and significant cultural structures. Currently, the two are working to help preserve the Owlwood estate in Holmby Hills—home to Sonny and Cher, Tony Curtis and 20th Century-Fox co-founder Joseph Schenck—from demolition. “We are in the field every day and see gorgeous estates and old houses [by architects] Paul Williams, Wallace Neff, Richard Neutra,” says Rummerfield. “People are snatching them up and building McMansions. We’re trying to save these homes.”

chroma-home-5.jpgDesigners Ron Woodson and Jaime Rummerfield photographed at the late legendary decorator Tony Duquette’s “Dawnridge” estate in Beverly Hills.

“For this [Fremont Place] home, we really wanted to honor what was the first Hollywood enclave,” says Woodson. “They are the original grand homes of Los Angeles, and they’re a sensation.” Which doesn’t rule out a little fun: Instead of the expected lions flanking the walkway here, the two picked a pair of French antique stone poodles from the late 1800s, courtesy of celebrated LA decorator Phyllis Morris, to stand sentinel. “It was just a little twist that shows that honoring great architecture doesn’t have to rule out the unexpected.”