The Wattles Mansion Designer Showcase House opened Friday, featuring the works of dozens interior designers who each donated their services to renovate a room, completely refurbishing the two-story historic property and offering visitors a peek back into the mansion’s former glamour.
The Showcase House theme is “Hollywood: The First 100 years” and each interior designer selected a movie or movie star as the inspiration for their space. The event was spearheaded by interior designer Victoria Reitz, Reitzhaus Productions, who also produced the Greystone Mansion Showcase House for the city of Beverly Hills. Proceeds from the event will support the Wattles Mansion, scholarships for the American Society of Interior Designers and Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Homes for Heroes program.
Located in the heart of Hollywood, the Wattles Mansion was built by Gurdon Wattles, a wealthy banker from Omaha Nebraska who hired Myron Hunt and Elmer Gray (who also designed the Huntington Library and the Rose Bowl stadium) to design the Mission Revival style house on a 47-acre site in 1907. It was his winter home. The Wattles Mansion is now owned by the City of Los Angeles and operated by the City of LA Recreations and Parks Department.
Inspired by the movie “The Artist,” interior designer Kathleen Beall re-created a black and white 1920s period kitchen building on original black and white linoleum tile.
Set in the 1920s, “The Artist,” the 2012 Academy Award Winner for Best Picture, was filmed in black and white and shot on location at the Ebell of Los Angeles, built in 1927. Beall, a member of the Ebell, has displayed photos of clothing from the Ebell’s costume collection to illustrate what Mrs. Wattles may have worn during the time she lived in the house. The photos are displayed in the former staff dining room.
Beall explained she wanted to pay homage to the design of the past with a modern interpretation. She took great pains to keep as many original fixtures as she could from the kitchen and butler’s pantry, all part of the four-room kitchen suite that served as her part of the house design. Beall restored the fine detail marble mosaic tile kitchen counter, re-enameled the original sink, and restored the wood ledges in the Butler’s pantry. Once you see them, you will understand why they are irreplaceable. Beall transformed the former dry pantry into a colorful flower arranging space, in contrast to the other predominately black and white rooms.
“I wanted to the house to have an authentic, vintage look,” said Beall because filming is a major source of revenue used to maintain the house. “This a wonderful historic property that now features a restored original kitchen.
After the showcase ends, all the furnishings will be removed, but the fixtures will remain. Many designers were drawn to the project because they wanted to give back to the community.
Designer Carolyn Von Der Ahe, inspired by Audrey Hepburn, whose legacy of philanthropy inspired the next generation of Hollywood stars, completely renovated the guest bathroom as part of her bedroom suite. The vintage tub remains but Von Der Ahe selected new tile, sink and toilet that reflect the period and will remain after the showcase ends.
“I was totally motivated to get involved in the showcase house because it was a chance to give back to the community,” said Von Der Ahe.
Designer Leslie Sharpio Joyal had a more personal motivation. She grew up in the San Fernando Valley right next door to the former ranch of Clark Gable and Carol Lombard. Shapiro Joyal has photos of Gable and Lombard in the staff sitting room she restored.
These are just a few of the wonderful rooms that await visitors. The house and garden opened Friday and will be open Thursday through Sunday through April 17. Click for tickets and more information. Note, the house is not large, so access may be limited for strollers and wheelchairs.
1824 N Curson Ave
Tickets $40 per person