An All-American palette, preppy patterns and midcentury touches help transform a designer’s humdrum Hollywood Hills apartment into a happily handsome home.
Written, produced, directed, designed and styled by Brian Patrick Flynn with renderings by Aprill Rife and photography by Zeke Ruelas.
What do $.79 hamburgers, diet muenster cheese and microwaves have in common? My dad. To save money back in the mid-1980s, the penny pinching patriarch would make my cheeseburger-craving friends and I order hamburgers at the Burger King drive-through because they were 10 cents cheaper than cheeseburgers. Once we got home, he’d toss my mom’s diet muenster cheese onto the plain burgers, zap ’em in the microwave, then serve them up as “gourmet cheeseburgers”. This was my childhood low point.
While my dad has always been (and still is) obsessed with saving a buck here and there, I’m the exact opposite. In fact, my motto is, “If it makes you super duper happy, it’s worth splurging on.” The perfect example: my West Coast crash pad. After moving to Los Angeles in November of 2011 as a producer on a reality-competition design series, I fell in love with a teensy weensy apartment in the celebrity-packed neighborhood of Hollywood Hills West. Determined to grow my interior design practice, I decided to give Los Angeles a full year, sticking around to take on new clients even after the series wrapped. Thanks to a nudge from my decorator friend Orlando who looks exactly like a Ken doll and uses the letter Z in place of the letter S whenever possible, I snagged the 600-square foot space the moment it became available. Almost three years later, I’m still calling this little slice of rental heaven my home, even if it’s only four months out of the year. From temporary flooring solutions to easily removable wallpaper, feast your eyes on my preppy, pattern-packed Hollywood Hills home. One void of microwaves, muenster cheese and anything diet.
Designing for myself 2800 miles from home was super freeing. So much that I purchased red pants, white T-shirts and suspenders, then wore them all at the same time.
From the moment I stepped into the modestly sized apartment, I had the living room space plan down. The picture window looks out onto Crescent Heights Boulevard which connects West Hollywood to Laurel Canyon and Studio City, two of the best things about the San Fernando Valley just over the hill. Since I don’t necessarily wanna look at bumper-to-bumper, Valley-bound cars while seated in my living room, it made sense to place the sofa with its back to the window. Determined to furnish the entire place with finds from the legendary Rose Bowl Flea Market, I had my illustrator Aprill put together this elevation, something I used as a blueprint for shopping. Aprill, she is amazing in so many ways, but does she really need 2 Ls in her name? Maybe we’re supposed to pause at the tail end of her name or something.
Since the unit is a rental, I couldn’t rip stuff out. Instead, I kinda camouflaged everything sucky. The orange wood laminate is completely hidden by several IKEA “Gaser” rugs placed side-by-side and cut to size with a carpet knife for a wall-to-wall fit. Those god awful vertical blinds, they’re outside in the storage unit. All of the blues used throughout the apartment were pulled from the Schumacher fabric used on the drapery. Nine times out of ten, I let textiles lead my design, especially with color.
To make the home office less kindergarten timeout and more Hollywood egomaniac, I installed a big-ass geometric mirror from Wisteria on the wall above the IKEA workstation so I could check my hair. PS: Ikea kitchen systems work for just about anything, and can look kinda-sorta custom when dressed up with high-end hardware.
The dining area was more like a pass-through than an actual room. Five rolls of wallpaper and a big-ass Circle K sign later, it’s now a focal point. What’s up with that weird-ass Circle K sign, anyway? Thanks for asking! I spent a ton of time at the Circle K as a teenager in Fort Lauderdale. Each weekend, it’s where my friends and I would stock up on drinks and snacks to bring to the beach before possibly being eaten by sharks or killed by hurricanes. So, it’s got some sort of significance, right?
Let me save the Internet haters some effort: Yes, it’s kinda ridiculous to shove dead animals into a space where food is prepared. But you know what? Sometimes you just do things that make you happy, people. That’s what you do. Also, you know what kinda meals I prepare in my kitchen? Protein shakes. That’s all. Like, ever.
Doesn’t the bathroom look remodeled, kinda? Sorta nuts that it’s the result of a simple two-day wallpaper, lighting and floating floor update. Since we primed the hell out of the walls, the paper will be easy to remove down the road. Also, those fuzzy white slippers, I have never worn them. I just like how they look as props, so much that I actually keep them on the floor at all times. And if you move them, even two inches to the right or left, I will know. And I will put them back in their special spot, pronto.
While the living room was more of a tossup as far as furniture goes, the bedroom was cut and dry. Since production had already started on the reality-competition design series I was producing and I had zero free time, I did a ton of online sourcing. In fact, this was the first time I’d shopped mostly online to design a room. Would I do it again? Yes, because of the amount of time it saves, and no because of the inability to actually touch things. So, I guess that’s more like a maybe. Also, Aprill’s elevation, it’s pretty spot-on again, right? Well, except for the duvet which looks more like a plastic drop cloth, but this is a room rendering, not a duvet rendering, right?
My bedroom is the ultimate high-low experience. The bed and its cotton ticking bedding are from IKEA, and the mirrored chests were bought online through Hayneedle. Those custom Union Jack table lamps? Christmas gifts from one of my all-time favorite interior designers, Betsy Burnham and Burnham Design. To put a fresh spin on the classic hanging bubble chair, I had its chintzy silver vinyl cushions reupholstered in Cliffoney fabric from David Hicks. My windows are covered in Schumacher’s Nanjing fabric, and the super fun Steve McQueen pop art above the bed is by artist Mark Boomershine.
And that’s that, America. My little slice of Hollywood heaven. Now, follow me on Instagram or your show will be canceled and your script will be rejected.