A Chicly Renovated Spanish Revival in Los Angeles
High-style reigns supreme when designer Shana Sherwood uncovers the original beauty of a 1929 Spanish Revival duplex in Los Feliz.
When interior designer Shana Sherwood was moving back to her native Los Angeles from New York City, she didn’t really have a plan. At the time, she was ready to move on from her job, her boyfriend (now husband) was heading west, and after eight years spent living in no more than 600 square feet — and that was late in her tenure — she was ready for more space. It wasn’t until her dad alerted her to a family-owned 1929 Spanish Revival duplex in Los Feliz that her path became clear.
“I thought, I’m going to renovate it,” said Sherwood, of her love-at-first-sight reaction to her now home’s once crumbling interiors. Great bones and tons of natural light, helped her look past things like mismatched architectural fittings and an outdated kitchen layout. After only a few months in Los Angeles, her formerly confused fixer-upper became an airy one-bedroom house with a subtle, stylish nod to its Spanish Revival roots.
The almost 1400-square-foot duplex is nestled on a quiet, hilly street, lined with Italian pine trees, which adds to its inherent charm. The area is very "neighborhood-y" and people seem happy to live there, according to Sherwood, a vibe she was missing in her New York City digs. The home’s existing interiors were a hodgepodge of design styles, as its Spanish Revival beginnings were plagued by a previous owner's penchant for English-style architecture (think pilasters, half columns, and ornate crown molding). From the start Sherwood set out to uncover the integrity of the home’s original architecture, some of which, upon further inspection, remained standing. The fireplace, for instance, which was covered by "crazy paneling" and ornate columns, revealed a quintessential revival-style hearth, when torn down. Sherwood jokingly calls this day the happiest of her 2000s.
Although the previous renovations were unsightly, they didn’t affect the home’s original floorplan, so structural changes were kept at a minimum. An oversized island was removed in the kitchen to make way for a "dream-come-true" master closet in the adjoining bedroom. Now, a built-in banquette cozies up to a bar-height table to add an extra prep station, and invite lingering breakfasts and mealtime visitors. The existing L-shaped plan ushers guests casually through the space, while storybook alcoves and smart seating arrangements never let it feel too crowded. "Often in interior design people want an open plan," the designer noted, "But I think this layout has that same effect, with a more natural flow."
Where the architecture of the space endures its 20th century origins, the playful potpourri of furniture and accessories exemplifies Sherwood’s collected design sense. “When I first moved in, my grandmother was moving out of a giant Colonial house in Beverly Hills that she had lived in for 50 years,” explained the designer, who ended up with her impressive collection of English Regency antiques, Persian rugs, and vintage artwork. Sherwood smartly stages these pieces amidst decidedly modern online scores — hello, half moon chair! — and more textural counterparts, like a pair of rattan poufs from Lawson-Fenning. Hints of her newfound milieu are seen throughout, as in the midcentury armchairs picked up at the Rose Bowl Flea Market that anchor her living room; and artisan wares from local purveyors like Bari Ziperstein and Heath Ceramics that are scattered intermittently.
In keeping with the home’s natural airiness, provided largely in part by its numerous windows, the designer covered the lightly-textured walls in muted tones, for example Farrow & Ball’s Elephant’s Breath in the living room and China White from Benjamin Moore in the kitchen and bathroom. "I wanted it to have a slightly adobe feel," said Sherwood. The oak flooring was original to the home but had yellowed over time, so she bleached it. Sherwood, who typically eschews such trends, noted, “In this space, that doesn’t feel trendy architecturally, the bleached floor is actually a nice contrast.”
The master bathroom is perhaps the most emphatic reincarnation to the home’s original style. Sherwood left an original arch over the bathtub and kept the shower petite which was typical of the time period. A vintage combination of mint green and black tiles cover the walls, accentuated by a nostalgic diamond pattern. Before Sherwood points out the appointed Restoration Hardware sconces and mirrors, visitors often assume the bathroom remained untouched during the renovation, which, despite initial hesitation, the designer feels is a compliment. "I like to think of the design as a reduced version of what would’ve been here," she concluded, "Just simplified."