Hillary Kerr’s Silver Lake Bungalow Is a Master Class in Repurposing Vintage Finds
The WhoWhatWear cofounder’s home is as covetable as her fashion.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:00 AM
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You’d think someone who works in fashion media would abide by the latest decor trends. But when it came to outfitting her new family home in the trendy East Los Angeles neighborhood of Silver Lake, Hillary Kerr looked to the past. “Whenever we could reupholster or re-cover something, we tried to do that,” says the cofounder of Clique Brands, WhoWhatWear’s parent company. “We are people who like pieces with a past.”
Kerr and her husband, Jonathan Leahy, a music supervisor for Aperture Music, purchased the three-bedroom home last November, and they love to surround themselves with vintage finds not only because they’re sustainable but because the couple enjoys finding new ways to repurpose them.
Fortunately, Kerr and Leahy, parents to 1-year-old son Clark and rescue dog Duke, had a strong advocate for this repurposing ethos in designer Deborah Gleiberman, whom Kerr met through a colleague. “It’s a nice way to have something new, but not just consume, consume, consume,” says Gleiberman, who worked on the couple’s home. (Not coincidentally, her West L.A. store, D.L. Rhein, specializes in refurbished vintage furniture.) “There’s a ton of wonderful items out there. I just love being able to bring them back to life.” We asked the design-savvy duo to share how they repurposed Kerr’s vintage finds to enliven this light, airy home.
Flaunt What You Love
Given Leahy’s extensive guitar collection and deep fondness for fixing up old electronic things, a music room was a must. Here, an industrial teal stool and burgundy kilim rug add a fun pop of color to the whitewashed woodwork. The light, beachy palette was intentional, says Gleiberman: “We wanted to keep it really clean and white; they have so much art, and the house is so full of light.”
Find a Starting Point
For baby Clark’s nursery, this meant riffing on the beloved Maurice Sendak classic Where the Wild Things Are with a forest-inspired wallpaper mural. The child-size giraffe, which Kerr first spotted in Pottery Barn’s office five years ago (back when she was still single), struck her: “It’s the sort of stuffed animal I would have liked to have grown up with,” she notes. Naturally she had to get one for Clark. The faded celadon Lulu & Georgia rug, which came from her previous bedroom in West Hollywood, tied the nursery’s colors together.
Riff on a Minor Color
“I love to pull out a minor color so you see it more,” says Gleiberman. She did just that in the master bedroom by reupholstering an old tufted ottoman in an eye-catching chartreuse cotton velvet that perfectly matches the vintage rug. The piece was a hit for the couple and now adds a much-needed dose of color to the otherwise neutral room. The gilded mirror, which came from her old apartment in West Hollywood, was a score from the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Mix It Up
The couple clearly loves the sinuous lines and upright forms of mid-century modern, but Gleiberman found it important to mix furniture from different eras to keep the home from feeling too much like a movie set. Here, a burl-wood coffee table and a pair of furry waterfall ottomans—“We call them the Chewbacca stools,” jokes Gleiberman—bring a kitschy ’70s vibe to the living room, which also houses a periwinkle sofa previously owned by Leahy. The abstract painting, a gift from Leahy’s close friend Matt Maust, who plays bass for the band Cold War Kids, adds youthful energy. The vintage reel-to-reel player, which Leahy repaired, belonged to Kerr’s dad.
Repurpose When Possible
The couple’s frequent dinner party guests would never know it, but the glamorous Paul McCobb Bow Tie chairs in the dining room were re-covered in an antique rug previously owned by the couple. “They turned out beautifully,” says Kerr, who had the idea. The mirrors came from her West Hollywood apartment, while the dining set belonged to Leahy. The ceramic lights, which once sat in the bedroom, look at home alongside the pineapple decanter and brass swan bowl.
Pare Down Things
Even though the sunny kitchen has limited square footage, that didn’t stop Kerr from filling it with her prized collection of vintage cookbooks, which she color-coded on a built-in shelf. The cozy breakfast nook was her idea, and Gleiberman abided by finding a smoked Lucite dining set at a local estate sale. The pink Turkish runner was an antique find, while a smattering of pillows upholstered in vintage fabrics gives the nook a sense of place. “I love the neutrality of them against all that color,” says Gleiberman. The young family can now enjoy a space that’s vibrant and full of sentimental mementos—a curated respite from the couple’s fast-paced life.
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