Timothy Corrigan’s Instagram followers will remember the sagas that played out on his account as he documented frustration after frustration while remotely renovating his French chateau early in the pandemic. His humor and grace saw him through, but, it turns out, there were also hiccups closer to home. After selling his childhood house in California’s historic Hancock Park, the designer had moved into a rental with his partner, Kathleen Scheinfeld. “The house had gray-white walls, and it just didn’t resonate with me. I was spending all my time at the office because I didn’t want to go home, and we realized we weren’t entertaining since we didn’t want to have anyone over,” he recalls. Finally, his own words to clients hit him: “Don’t underestimate how much a house feeds your soul.” He knew he needed to find a new home—and fast. The perfect one revealed itself quickly, but the city went into lockdown the day he and Kathleen moved in. Corrigan steeled himself and just kept going, knowing the results would be worth it.
“It’s almost like a sister house to my childhood home,” he says of the 1940s Georgian Colonial, set in the same neighborhood, which now even boasts a similar white picket fence. “It’s a style I love because it’s an easy kind of architecture to understand and to live in,” he continues. “Things are where you expect them to be—the center hallway, the living room to the left, the dining room to the right—and you feel comfortable because you’re not trying to figure it out.” The house, it turns out, also came with a notable pedigree, having been previously renovated by Corrigan’s friend and fellow L.A. designer Mary McDonald. “I actually like this house a little bit better than my childhood house,” he admits. “The living room is bigger. It’s just a lighter and brighter house.”
To enhance its already genial spirit, Corrigan chose a warmer palette than he has previously used for himself. “I was consciously looking to go with slightly different colors, spurred by how bad the art looked against the rental’s white walls,” he explains. (While he likes white walls as a background for modern art, he doesn’t prefer them to set off his 17th- and 18th-century paintings. “They need some warmth,” he advises.) Here, it’s a mix of pale yellow, bright yellow and gold to create “a feeling of positivity,” he says, noting that a color study he once read revealed that rooms painted yellow are perceived as brighter because the eye associates yellow with the sun and happiness. “Overall, there’s a return to color,” he states, “but now, across the board, people are moving away from cold colors to warmer, more saturated ones.”
Aside from a new palette, Corrigan also saw the house as a chance to reconsider design elements he hasn’t always relished. Never much a fan of stripes previously, he decided to use them for living room and bedroom draperies, as well as his desk chair, and brought in more wallpaper than usual. “It’s very subtle—my art is my priority—but wallpaper just makes a room feel embracing,” he adds, pointing out the dining room’s yellow moiré paper and a “precious stone-like” pattern he chose for his bedroom, his favorite to date. “It’s discontinued, so I bought every roll they had left!” (Expect to see it turn up at his chateau, too.)
“I’d say it’s 75 percent new and 25 percent rehabbed,” he says playfully of the furnishings. “I got all new carpets and reupholstered things to feel the same way but to look different.” Tiger print chairs in the living room now bring an exotic touch, while a ruby-red velvet sofa in the den evokes the splendor of Old Hollywood. Corrigan splurged on a new dining room table and chandelier but kept his existing chairs. He also retained the vintage O’Keefe & Merritt stove for the kitchen. “It’s wildly unfunctional, but I love the look,” he says. (As did his former client Madonna, who asked Corrigan for one in her own kitchen renovation.)
Outside, Corrigan employed favorite garden elements, including topiary and trellising (topiary flank his L.A. studio’s entrance and trellis patterns feature in his porcelain and fabric collections), and an 18th-century stone bench from Paris is a happy reminder of his adopted country. Every viewpoint offers something meaningful. The house has, in his own words, fed his soul.