Emily Larkin, AKA “The Chair Whisperer,” could not be more thrilled about being on the Hollywood Santa Monica Neighborhood Association Home Tour this year. In fact, when I visited her adorable brick Tudor at 707 Cordova, the interior designer who works out of her backyard guesthouse had several paint swatches taped up around her home and painters tape outlines where newly designed furniture will go. Truly, for an interior designer as inspired by historic architecture as Emily Larkin is, a home tour is like the Olympics and she wants her home to win a medal. However, it’s only three and a half weeks until the two-day home tour celebration on April 25 and 26, so Emily has her work cut out for her. Luckily, this young and ambitious designer works well under pressure.
Emily, who describes her style as timeless and not trendy, is a huge fan of Jan Showers (who isn’t?) and has a passion for chairs in unique shapes, colors, and fabrics. “You will probably see that I have several chairs,” she advises tourgoers, “because you can never have too many. I love using furniture from different periods. I love mixing styles.”
To find her unique pieces, Emily shops estate sales, antique fairs, and anywhere she can find great pieces that just need a little work to really shine. You’ll find tons of great examples of refinished pieces that look amazing in her three-bedroom, two-bath home, like the glossy white armoire in the guest room.
When Emily and her husband, Ben, bought their Hollywood Heights home just a few years ago, they had planned on gutting the large bath at the end of the hall. The other bathroom, which was more of a closet with a shower, says Emily, didn’t feel like a feasible project. But friends and family were aghast at the idea, because the wall tile and platform on which the corner tub sits was so special and in excellent condition. The bathroom even has color-keyed etched mirrors and fabulous vintage details that make it feel at home in the 1933-built home. Instead they gutted and re-did the hall bath to great results.
But what makes this stop on the home tour so special for me was how connected Emily is to it. She’s carefully curated everything, right down to the high-impact wallpaper in the entryway, a design called “Lotus” from Farrow & Ball, that truly fits the style of the home. It works so well with the character of the neighborhood, too, a place that Emily always wanted to live.
“When my husband and I would drive around, this was our dream neighborhood,” Emily said.
Now it’s a dream come true.
Below is a little Q&A we did with Emily, and stay tuned for more on the many generous homeowners opening their doors for this year’s home tour, including exclusive photos from Katherine Leeson. If you haven’t purchased your ticket, find out more about the ticket buying process, as well as the auction party on April 24 at the Dallas Arboretum. Stay tuned to Candy’sDirt for a chance to win two tickets to this year’s home tour, too!
CandysDirt.com: What are your favorite design elements in your home and why?
Emily Larkin: I love all of the big windows in our home- you can’t beat the feeling of good natural light. The windows give a great view to my husband’s garden and all of the really old beautiful trees that line the street. I’ve also always been a fan of the arched interior doorways that are original to the house — they have such quaint detailing!
CD: Which rooms do you and your family love the most?
Emily Larkin: My husband and I spend the most time in what we call “the man cave.” It’s a small cozy room where we hang out, eat, watch movies, and read. Of course it’s not your typical man cave with sports posters and a recliner! I like to think of it as a sophisticated man cave complete with brass antlers, modern chrome chairs and a driftwood coffee table!
We also love our newly renovated master bathroom. We used to get ready in two separate tiny bathrooms … it feels so great to finally merge all of our stuff into one! The new bathroom is still a small space but we designed it to function so much better. Since we didn’t need a lot of material, we were able to upgrade to Calcatta Gold marble on all walls and floors and still had room in the budget for a custom Lucite vanity!
CD: What are you doing to prepare for the Hollywood Santa Monica Home Tour?
Emily Larkin: Somehow our home tour list keeps growing by the day! (Being an interior designer, my creative wheels never stop!) We are currently putting in a new iron-and-stone gate in our driveway and adding to our backyard landscaping. I’m also in the midst of designing a custom buffet for my dining room and headboard for my master bedroom that I can only hope get completed before then! I also have three gallery picture walls to finish in both my home and office. It’s definitely crunch time!
CD: What feature, furnishing, or artwork should home tourgoers pay special attention to?
Emily Larkin: In our small home office is a really cool “root ball” ceiling light fixture that my father-in-law made for us out of a wood ball that I purchased at the Roundtop Antiques Fair.
Also, be on the lookout for loads of original 1930s details throughout our home — the tile on the fireplace hearth, the mailbox in our entry, the blush colored sconces in the living room, the guest bathroom tub and tile, the little iron/ironing board cupboards in the kitchen, and the phone niche in the hallway. Our house is definitely like taking a trip back in time!
CD: What does it mean for you to have your home featured on this long-running tour, benefiting the entire Hollywood Santa Monica historic conservation district?
Emily Larkin: The Hollywood Heights Home Tour is something that we have wanted to participate in ever since we moved to this neighborhood! I think Hollywood Santa Monica is such a unique and special place so I am truly honored to showcase our historic home that we have been working on for the past three years. As an interior designer, I take a lot of pride in my home, so I can only hope that we did this neighborhood justice in our renovations by giving our house an up to date look, while still maintaining its historic integrity.