A Terrazzo Snake Here, a Space-Age Lamp There—This Artist’s Home Is Its Own Mystical World
Tucked in the Topanga Canyon hills.
Updated Aug 8, 2023 4:16 PM
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There is something undeniably mystical about artist Carly Jo Morgan and her Topanga Canyon home, which she shares with her daughter, Cookie Jo. Though Morgan hesitated about moving back to Los Angeles after living in New York City for almost a decade, the wild expanses of nature and close-knit community won her over. “It felt like home immediately,” she says.
Six years later, and she’s made only a handful of modifications to the 1920s structure—painting the exterior black, the walls vibrant teal and dusty pink, and the floors light lavender. A wood-burning stove in the living room took the form of a “Santa Fe ziggurat.”
Playful snake and hand motifs appear throughout, like the terrazzo serpent base of a coffee table, a ceramic light slithering down a wall, and carved wood hands placed on a dresser. Morgan effortlessly marries softer elements with space-agey details. “I love the juxtaposition of past and future. I always try to make things that either conjure up the feeling of an ancient relic or a sci-fi badge from the future,” she explains.
Much like her home—an amalgamation of energy from hosting group meditations, dance parties, and the birth of Cookie Jo— Morgan’s career has followed an equally prolific and varied trajectory. She interned for Mara Hoffman, hand-dyeing dresses in a tiny studio on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Then came her wallpaper line, followed by a jewelry collection.
She wrote The Sacred Door, a children’s book inspired by Cookie Jo, and cofounded the market and music festival Mercado Sagrado. (Morgan plays a few instruments, some of which hang around the space.) Her latest project is a line of terrazzo creations, including the globe lighting fixtures that illuminate the many nooks in her house.
Outside, the backyard’s geometric landscape of earthy pinks is a natural extension of the interiors. “I spend a lot of time out there, and I enjoy creating spaces to host people,” Morgan says.
It was once an overgrown English garden, and she realized that the watering system was hugely impractical. “There was no way to justify it in such a crazy drought, so we spent years slowly conceptualizing a garden based on gathering people together around food and music.”
Her concrete bench design, a balance of form and function, serves as a terrace to redirect flooding rains into a dry rock creek. Morgan’s long-term plan is to transform the backyard into a sculpture garden.
In the meantime, the interior walls have become an unofficial gallery of her friends’ artwork. Pieces by Morgan’s best friend (and favorite artist), Elena Stonaker, abound—including the heart pillow that sits on Cookie Jo’s bed and the wedding dress Stonaker designed for Morgan that hangs on the bedroom wall, featuring a shimmering yin-yang pattern.
Describing her own work and the environments she creates, Morgan says, “As an artist I always intend to evoke a feeling, but it never really works if you haven’t allowed enough time for the space to speak to you. Home is an energy.”
This story was originally published in our Summer 2017 issue with the headline “The New New Age.”