Though they were happily living in a Hancock Park craftsman in Los Angeles, the unsolicited offer to sell that designer Taylor Jacobson’s clients received was one they couldn’t refuse. The day they were set to move into temporary digs, reports Jacobson, “the husband went to a showing of what would become their ‘forever home.’ They put in an offer and got the house.” But it wasn’t just any house: The 1922 Colonial Revival, only a few blocks away from the craftsman, had belonged to celebrated interior designer Timothy Corrigan, who had lived there as a child and had bought and renovated it for himself some 10 years ago.
Stately in style and lovingly tended to by Corrigan, the home needed only a few adaptations to accommodate its new inhabitants. The owners reunited the team who had done their previous residence, Jacobson and architect Elissa Scrafano, to handle the changes. “The house isn’t landmarked, but we kept the exterior envelope the same,” explains Scrafano. “It had great bones.”
With the help of Scrafano’s project manager Debbie Gloria and general contractor Saul Lopez, the group added French doors to the sun room, enlarged the central stairway’s skylight, installed a kid-safe stair rail, refreshed the master bedroom and bathroom, and cleverly reconfigured two upstairs bedrooms into three of equal size for the children—two girls and a boy. “We had to create the new interior plan of the three rooms considering all of the existing windows—those couldn’t be changed,” says the architect. “It was challenging!”
Further modifications were largely restricted to the surface since all of the historic elements—paneling, doors, moldings, hardware and fireplaces—were retained. “The updates are sensitive to the architecture yet capture the essence of a modern family,” says Jacobson. “Our goal was always to reflect the owners’ playful spirit and to balance that with the more traditional style of the house.” And because she has known the husband and wife for years, there was an overall ease to the project. “I’ve gained their trust,” the designer says.
As with their previous residences, the couple wanted color and pattern, and a feeling of casual comfort. Jacobson knew just what to do. She kept “the gorgeous green den and sconces” but put a new spin on the adjoining vestibule, papering it with a design by Hunt Slonem. “I loved the bunny paper in bright yellow to complement the dark green walls of the den,” she says. “We’ve done wallpaper in all of their houses, so they didn’t need convincing—they’re definitely ready for a bit of fun.” In fact, it was the husband who found the exuberantly tropical wallpaper for the powder room—think M.C. Escher meets the Caribbean. For the master bedroom, they chose a floral that’s dynamic but not overwhelming. “The wallpapers convey a sense of whimsy and levity, which was important to the clients,” she adds. In contrast, Jacobson kept transitional spaces white. “That’s a concept I return to again and again: a bright, neutral palette for the main artery of a home, with smaller spaces clad in dark wallpaper or paint to create cozy zones.” she says.
The homeowners’ tastes hadn’t changed since doing the craftsman, so Jacobson repurposed many furnishings. “The living room pieces are a direct transfer, but I knew we had to have a caramel leather sectional in the den to complement the dark green walls.” She also brought in vintage kilims, using them not only to upholster the sun room’s ottoman but to create the stair runner. “You see it immediately upon entering the house, and it sets the tone for the whole place,” Jacobson says of the latter, and shares, “I had a lot of fun sourcing them. It was a fun puzzle to find two that felt compatible enough to work as one complete stair runner.” In what’s become something of her hallmark, wicker, rattan and cane pieces dot each room. “I love the warmth and texture they bring, especially as a play against bright colors and patterns,” says the designer. “If they’re vintage, even better.”
For Jacobson, working within a traditional architectural framework was a pleasure. “The proportions are classic and so well-conceived,” says the designer. And doing it with longtime clients made the experience even more gratifying. “I’ve worked with them for nine years, and it’s very satisfying to see our time together culminate in a beautiful home that is a reflection of who they are. It’s just a great example of a young, modern family living comfortably and stylishly in a traditional space,” she observes. “I hope many family memories are created here.