On the outside it’s classic 1915 Georgian style. But there’s a surprise inside this Hancock Park home. Because when Marnie and Howard Owens, their two soccer-playing girls, and one big Labrador moved in, so did a fresh, youthful attitude—and some new decorating, courtesy of interior designer Jennifer Culp.
Everything heavy and dated in this Georgian was booted to the curb like an old kickball as designer Jennifer Culp ditched the darkness and formality of the home’s interiors. She ripped off leather-embossed wallpaper, painted over blood-red and hunter-green walls, and tore out clunky built-ins to make way for homeowner Marnie’s relaxed, bohemian style—and the soulful collections of art, photography, and furnishings the couple had gathered over time. “While we paid respect to the architecture, we wanted to funk it up a bit,” Culp says.
The home’s classic architectural details such as the large central entry and window-filled rooms create an ideal setting for the impressive art collection that Marnie and Howard have lovingly assembled. Central to the collection are two paintings by Marnie’s great-grandmother, notable portrait artist Marie Danforth Page. The first is a large portrait of a woman playing the cello. That one went over the fireplace “as a good family centerpiece,” says Marnie, who majored in art history and has been collecting since her days as a chef, when she would visit galleries and make payments on pieces she loved. The other Page piece, a portrait of a little girl in a blue dress, hangs atop the staircase.
A vintage rug from Nicky Rising and a blue runner from Melrose Carpet on the stairway create a colorful welcome.
With just-right shades of whites, pinks, and grays, Culp created a lively gallery-like setting in the living and entertaining areas to highlight the couple’s artwork while layering in surprising furniture, lighting, and fabrics.
The couple buys one sizable modern photograph a year to enliven their walls. Of note is the portrait of an African woman in a field by Jackie Nickerson, which contrasts interestingly with the refined cellist painted by Marnie’s great-grandmother.
Culp chose a magenta-and-yellow Indian silk sari rug and a peacock-blue linen from Osborne & Little to harmonize with the artwork.
A Saarinen table gives a modern nod to the more traditional kitchen. Black trim—original to the house—pops against white cabinetry.
Culp chose wild prints to invigorate tame furnishings, such as the pair of formal settees she re-covered in a zigzag pattern of lilac, teal, and orange for the music room. “We found these loveseats at the Pasadena Antique Mall, and Marnie and I both wanted to cover them in something crazy,” Culp says, laughing.
In the music room, another large-scale art piece—Liza Ryan’s I push a petal from my Gown, the title taken from an Emily Dickinson poem—shows a young woman breathing out towering orange flames, continuing the subtle subject matter of strong women created by female artists. The amazing art mingles with casual flea-market finds in a “don’t-try-to-pinpoint-our-style” kind of look that keeps the house feeling playful and light. Georgian light.
An orange daybed from Plain Air mixes playfully with rattan pieces from Harbinger out on the home's loggia. The hanging pendant is from Design Within Reach.