WITH THE HELP OF INTERIOR DESIGNER GINNY MACDONALD, CREATE & CULTIVATE'S JACLYN JOHNSON OPENS THE DOOR TO A NEW HOME IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PANDEMIC.
Moving is inevitably stressful. Throw in the restrictions of a pandemic and the experience could prove to be a disaster. But Jaclyn Johnson, the dynamic founder of Create & Cultivate, an online community aimed at supporting women in business, is a pro at discovering the hidden opportunities in any situation. She’s also experienced at picking people to complement her vivacious skill set.
Johnson had long had her eye on the work of interior designer Ginny Macdonald, who honed her talent under the tutelage of home stylist Emily Henderson before launching her own firm. “I loved Ginny’s work and I loved her style,” Johnson recalls. The two first partnered on the redesign of the Create & Cultivate offices. “She really understood what I wanted and what I look for,” says Johnson. “I have lots of ideas but I can’t put them together in the way she can.” The experience proved so seamless that Johnson called Macdonald as soon as she closed on a new Silver Lake abode.“ And then COVID hit.”
While the three-bedroom, 2 ½-bathroom 1940s home had recently been updated, the renovation had been very basic. “It had really good bones,” Macdonald shares, “but it didn’t have any personality.” Perched on a hillside, the two-level structure includes a “granny suite,” which Johnson’s husband, artist David Kaul, commandeered as his studio space. Multiple decks and patios, as well as a backyard and a front yard, ensure that almost every room opens to the exterior.
That aspect made it the ideal space in which to shelter at home—and to host the flow of workmen necessary to pull off the elevated transformation Johnson and Macdonald envisioned. “While the timing wasn’t great,” Johnson admits, “this home was the perfect blank canvas to have fun with.” An open-plan layout, beautifully arched windows and high-quality cabinetry meant that Macdonald and Johnson could concentrate on the fun part of decor—choosing tiles, lights, plumbing fixtures, furniture and accessories—and ignore the hassle that comes with a gut remodel. “We’d done the complete down-to-the-studs thing on our first house,” Johnson remembers, “and we knew we didn’t want to do that again.”
The plan was to complement the home’s Spanish Revival-style details with a clean, uncluttered look, balancing its vintage elements with strong contemporary lines. “I kept coming back to the idea of a cozy hotel vibe,” says Johnson. “Minimal and modern in the bigger areas and then fun and wild in the bathrooms.” The home’s public rooms merge the dining room and kitchen into one large area with a spacious living room nearby. “They all kind of flow together,” says Johnson.
It was a task that Macdonald kept utmost in her mind as she navigated the challenges of online shopping and delayed delivery dates. “We had to be very careful with the placement of furniture and how things in the different rooms spoke to each other,” she shares. White walls keep the look light and airy, allowing color and pattern, like the large custom wall hanging that greets visitors in the entryway, a neutral backdrop against which to shine. Touches of black keep the rooms grounded. Since Johnson had partnered with various brands—Lulu and Georgia in the living room, CB2 in the kitchen and dining area, Industry West in the master bedroom, California Closets in the home office and Article for the outdoor space—Macdonald would also need to ensure that the spaces would not resemble furniture showrooms and that there was an organic flow that organized everything into a cohesive whole: A unified palette of color, shape and material helped tie everything together.
Take, for example, cane, a favorite look of Johnson’s. “While it’s a little bit more of a traditional element,” Macdonald points out, “it can help balance more modern pieces by providing a bit of softness.” Here it finds its expression in each of the main rooms—the black chairs clustered around the dining table, a curvaceous bed in the master suite, a pale screen in the living room that also serves to shield the home’s activities from the street. By choosing clean-lined pieces that echo the shape of the home’s soaring architectural features, Macdonald guaranteed a harmonious fit with the more modern elements.
The living room focuses on comfort, which proved a boon during Los Angeles’ long stay-at-home orders. “In our last house, we didn’t do a TV in the living room and we ended up regretting it,” says Johnson. She and her husband chose a frame model that can display a revolving showcase of art when not in use. A gas fireplace was another upgrade the couple splurged on. “We just click a switch and we have a fire going,” she says. A sprawling sectional and barrel-shaped swivel chairs in a mustard boucle, a shade plucked from the floor’s wood tones, accentuate the room’s coziness. A black and white flat weave rug anchors the room while an exuberant branched chandelier overhead punctuates the space with its graphic design.
The unique color of the kitchen’s backsplash dominates the kitchen and dining area. “We went back and forth on what we should do,” says Johnson. A fortuitous conversation with Fireclay Tile provided the answer. “They were coming out with a new line of desert-inspired tiles that included some pinks,” Johnson remembers. She immediately fell in love with the subtle tints. “I love how they change color with the sun,” she shares. “They’ll be really pale in the mornings and then have a vibrant orange glow at sunset”.
To add to the room’s relaxed atmosphere, Macdonald created a lounge in one corner. The mix of ivory boucle club chairs and rustic leather safari chairs keeps the look informal. “It’s a nice transitional space that feels conversational and fun,” she points out. A linen credenza, filled with entertaining supplies, underlines the space’s laid-back intentions.
The subtlety that is a hallmark of the larger spaces is abandoned in the bathrooms. In the powder room, Johnson lets her love of pink take center stage. Tiny rose-colored tiles, a vivacious terrazzo countertop and lime-washed walls amp the room’s vintage mood while a pair of flirtatious gold crystal lights and a free-form mirror add a touch of bling.
Johnson’s husband had only two requests. “He said, ‘I know you’re going to want to do pink, just not in the bedroom and not in the master bathroom.’” In the bathroom, that resulted in a deep-blue tile that amps up the drama of the luxurious black-framed shower and the deep bathtub. “This has turned me into a bath person,” Johnson says with a laugh. In the bedroom, the deep autumn tones of the ottomans and the bedding telegraph warmth.
That feeling extends to the home’s outdoor areas. “The decks have definitely been the best part of this house,” says Johnson. A long fire pit and a new pool emphasize them as important lounging, dining and, eventually, entertaining areas. “With the views and lights up and down the hillside, it’s just really fun and beautiful, especially at sunset,” says Johnson. “One day we’ll do a housewarming. Until then, it’s an ideal home for lockdown.” There’s Johnson once again creating and cultivating opportunity.