By Becky Harris | Houzz
“Pretty Little Liars” actor Ian Harding lives in Los Angeles, but he’s not a beach guy. Fans of the mountains, wildlife and trees, he and his girlfriend, artist and blogger Sophia Hart, found a home perched in the trees in L.A.’s famously bohemian Laurel Canyon. The house itself was suffering from an identity crisis. Built in 1948, it had undergone disjointed renovations over the years that had left it a mishmash of cottage, Spanish colonial and bungalow, among other things. “Over time, people do some weird things to houses,” says their interior designer, Shannon Ggem. “It was time to bring the house back to what it was supposed to be.”
Houzz at a Glance
- Who lives here: Actor Ian Harding of “Pretty Little Liars,” fashion designer and artist Sophie Hart, and their dogs, Bailey and Mochi
- Location: Laurel Canyon area of Los Angeles
- Size: Main living space: 1,500 square feet plus a separate apartment, totaling 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms
- Design: Interiors: Shannon Ggem; landscape: Melanie Williams Landscapes
The couple was not starting from scratch. “We had all kinds of things to decorate with, but we didn’t have any structure,” Harding says. “The first time that Shannon took us shopping, we only came home with one thing.… I realized later that she was sharing her ideas and really gauging what we would want — she let us be ourselves, added to that and came up with a design that was very us,” he says.
“Both Ian and Sophie have incredible taste and were wonderful to collaborate with,” Ggem says. But they didn’t make things easy on her. “It was important to them that the house have a true vintage feel rather than a straight-off-the-showroom-floor look,” she says. She and Harding put some serious miles on their cars scooping up unique furniture and accessories she scored on Craigslist.
In the great room, shown here, Ggem created a sense of entry off the front door, provided space for their books and added casual black linen sheers to help frame the views of the landscape. “The great room feels very tree house-y,” she says.
The couple already had the unique overdyed rug and had been using the tree stump tables as benches. The rug is a bright counterpoint in the more masculine room, while the benches used as coffee tables add the right amount of rustic. See Another Eclectic Laurel Canyon Home.
Harding and Hart are nature lovers; a favorite cause of his is The Fund for Animals Wildlife Center. “We love our little outdoor mecca,” Harding says. “A lot of our house focuses on the outside, and we love found wildlife artifacts, wood and watching the birds — a recurring avian theme came out of this.”
The couple had already started this gallery wall with frames they had collected at Melrose Trading Post. Ggem suggested hanging little natural finds from their walks. She helped them make it work by adding more frames and composing them, and fastening their found objects with Command Strips. She surprised them on installation day with an ostrich egg perched in a 1940s toothbrush cup, which anchors the center of the composition. “The tiny, minute details — that’s where the magic of Shannon lies,” Harding says.
Because the front door opens right into the great room, Ggem created an entry area just beyond it. The couple can come in and drop keys and sunglasses here, and the crates beneath the console table corral dog toys and leashes.
Inspired by nature, Ggem tracked down the resin antler lamp and the hand-carved wood Italian deco chairs. She drove to pick up the funky copper teapot from one Craigslist seller, while Harding went deep into the San Fernando Valley to scoop up the chairs from another. “This entire experience was a real lesson in trust,” Harding says. “Shannon’s suggestion of a lamp in front of the view seemed like a bad idea to me at first, but lo and behold, it works; it sections this area off and it makes it feel like its own space.”
Knowing that both Harding and Hart were huge readers, Ggem designed 15-foot-long built-in bookshelves, painted deep teal and backed in periwinkle. The shelves are a great example of what the pair already owned. “They filled the shelves in one day!” Ggem exclaims. The shelves also house the TV, media equipment and board games. The painted blocks were made by Hart.
Light fixtures subtly delineate the living space and the dining area. Ggem chose an Edison chandelier and a deco star to “draw a line from the 1940s to now,” she says.
“I sent Ian out to check out this sofa in gray, and he came home with indigo,” she says. “He really sees how things go together, and he made the work better.”
The master bedroom has a whimsical, woodsy vibe. The bed and bench are made from reclaimed wood, the rope on the blanket nods to Laurel Canyon’s macramé days, and vintage Swiss backpacks hang on the walls.
The small deer silkscreens were something Ggem had picked up at the Silver Lake flea market years ago. She’d brought them over for staging purposes, but Harding couldn’t let them go. They add a sweet, feminine touch to the rustic room. Harding zeroed in on another item as well. “I had the throw pillow in my car for another client, and he saw it and said, ‘Hey, what’s that?’” she says. “He doesn’t miss a thing — he scooped it right up.”
All three agree that one of their favorite things in the house is this vintage photographer’s hand-painted backdrop, which Ggem fashioned as drapes. “They let in just the right amount of light in the morning,” Harding says.
Downstairs the couple created a full studio, which serves as separate quarters for family and New York City actor friends to use for extended periods of time. When vacant it also serves as a workspace for Hart. The suite can serve as a separate apartment and includes its own full bathroom and a kitchenette. Spruce Up an Old Bathroom With a New Shower Curtain.
Hart’s beloved collection of illustrator Kay Nielsen’s plates (seen on the gallery wall here) inspired the look, which Ggem refers to as “kind of Alice in Wonderland eclectic, creative boho.” Hart wanted a French-art-salon-style space and suggested pink walls; Nielsen’s illustrations inspired painting the existing concrete floor in a black and white harlequin pattern. She also wanted large paper flowers, seen over the dressing table.
“I wasn’t sure about putting a French art salon in a woodsy cottage, but Shannon made it all work,” Harding says. The walls are painted are a warm, soft pink that Ggem describes as “chalky and not at all little-girl-ish.”
One of Ggem’s additions is a taupe sofa that folds out into a full bed. “We loved it because it’s got a Frenchy-poo-with-an-edge look to it, which is what we were going for,” she says.
Eclectic accessories nod to the days when the likes of The Mamas and the Papas, Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison roamed Laurel Canyon.
Enjoying the outdoor space was very important to the couple, who wisely scooped up a side lot next door and doubled their usable outdoor space. Now the house has three different outdoor rooms. This patio off the kitchen is tucked beneath one of the canyon’s hills and is a favorite spot for enjoying a morning brew.
A comfortable lounge area has amped-up nighttime ambience, thanks to small shaded lights hardwired along the tree. Ggem recommends tracking down commercial-grade lights (such as the
kind used by restaurants), because they are very durable and last longer than noncommercial ones. The lights on the railings are low-voltage task lights mounted upside down and backward; they give off a very pretty glow.
Ggem added lots of pillows to the woven outdoor set for comfort, while a unique fire pit provides a flame in a bowl full of water.
Finally, an al fresco dining space has views and a lofty position in the treetops. Ggem had a square redwood table and benches custom made so they could comfortably seat eight. Because leaves and other detritus fall from the wonderful trees overhead, she added a patterned umbrella from Cost Plus World Market and Moroccan lanterns for a warm glow at night. The combination exemplifies the eclectic vibe the couple loves and befits the artistic, bohemian history of the neighborhood. Patio Umbrellas That Make Dinner Al Fresco Even Better.
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