A Contemporary L.A. Home That Won Over Two Native New Yorkers


If home ownership is like an engagement ring, signaling one’s commitment to a particular locale, then interior designer Georgia Tapert Howe and her director and screenwriter husband, Lou Howe, sealed the deal on their tentative relationship with Los Angeles when, two-and-a-half years ago, they finally bought a house in their adopted city.

Georgia Tapert Howe at the entrance to her home in Hancock Park.

After four-odd years spent in rentals, where did the couple — both Manhattan natives who moved to California in 2011 after Lou finished his MFA at the American Film Institute Conservatory — choose to settle down?

The kitchen’s refrigerator is by Sub-Zero, the range is by Wolf, and the Rohl farmhouse sink has fittings by Waterworks; the stools are from Design Within Reach, the counters are in a gray marble, the Roman shades are of a C & C Milano sheer, and the pendants are by RH, Restoration Hardware.

In the historic neighborhood of Hancock Park, where tree-lined streets and regal mansions are arguably more evocative of, say, Greenwich, Connecticut, than a clichéd beachy California existence. As the expression more or less goes, you can take the woman out of New York, but you can’t take New York out of the woman.

The living room’s sofas are by RH, Restoration Hardware, the 1950s chairs are Danish, the cocktail table is by Charles Hollis Jones, the end tables are from Lucca Home, and the antique stool was a Japanese rice box. The antique mirror is Indian, the mantel is original, the pendant is by Paul Ferrante, the floor lamp is by Visual Comfort, and the sconces are by Ralph Lauren Home.

“It felt like the benefits of suburban living without actually having to live in the suburbs,” says Howe, who honed her aesthetic — a contemporary update on traditional — working for such top designers as Mica Ertegun and Martyn Lawrence Bullard.

In the dining room of the Los Angeles home, the oak dining table is custom, the vintage leather chairs are by Cassina, and the antique console is a family heirloom; the 1950s chandelier is from One Kings Lane, the curtains are of a Pindler linen, and the jute rug is from Stark. The walls are in Juniper Green and the ceiling is in Black Panther, both by Benjamin Moore; the artwork is by Michael Ray Charles.

It was also probably the closest West Coast approximation that Howe, whose mother, Annette Tapert, is a fashion-book author and former PEN America trustee, could find of the tony, intellectually minded existence in which she grew up. “It felt very East Coast,” she says.

In the master bedroom, the custom bed is covered in a Carolina Irving Textiles fabric and topped with a throw from Hollywood at Home. The bench is from Lucca Home, the curtains are of a Rogers & Goffigon linen, the cabinet is custom, the chandelier is from Design Within Reach, and the combined table and lamp is by Jacques Adnet. The Moroccan rug is from Lawrence of La Brea, and the photographs are by Karl Blossfeldt.

More than a century ago, the area was home to oil derricks owned by the Hancock family. In the 1920s, architects like Wallace Neff and Los Angeles local Paul Revere Williams left their design marks.

It is now the chosen neighborhood for a smart blend of film and television personalities — Mindy Kaling lives there; Shonda Rhimes owns three homes in the area — and interior designers, like Nate Berkus and Estee Stanley, who founded Hancock Design (named for the enclave) with Brigette Romanek.

Palms in RH, Restoration Hardware, planters frame one side of the swimming pool, where the rattan chair and ottoman are vintage. French doors lead to Lou’s office, which was formerly a garage.

The Howes settled on an architecturally landmarked 1921 neoclassical-meets-Georgian house and spent six months updating its aging wiring and overhauling the kitchen before beginning a top-to-bottom redecoration that melds Howe’s traditionalist inclinations with a more casual California vibe.

In the spacious, sun-filled living room, she placed a pair of airy white linen sofas alongside vintage leather chairs by Ib Kofod-Larsen, the midcentury Danish architect and designer.

The master bath’s tub is by Kohler, the marble counters and wall and floor tiles are from Creative Environments, and the Roman shade is in a Clarence House linen.

The master bedroom is breezy in cream and tan, with a custom headboard Howe designed upholstered in a Carolina Irving Textiles fabric, a wall covering from Caba Company, and a vintage Italian chair covered in a cream wool bouclé.

“I have definitely gotten more contemporary being out here,” she says. And yet, such airiness is tempered by the two-story home’s most formal moment: an emerald dining room.

Foregoing the more obvious move of creating a family-style living space (daughter Byrdie is five, and son Louis is two), Howe opted to retain the room’s separateness and original paneled architecture. For heightened drama, the ceiling was painted jet black; it hovers over a contemporary dining table in blackened oak. An antique jet-lacquer dresser from Howe’s childhood serves as a console.

In the playroom, a Cisco Home sofa is topped with pillows covered in vintage textiles, the custom bench is upholstered in a vintage tie-dyed rug, the floor pillows were purchased in Mexico, and the rug is by West Elm; the wallpaper is by Anthropologie, and the room’s trim and doors are painted in Benjamin Moore’s Patriot Blue.

Her children's memories may have a bit more whimsy: In the playroom, Howe chose an Anthropologie wallpaper covered in birds that boasts, as she says, “every color in the rainbow”— for when the children aren’t outside climbing trees.

Clearly, she chose the right real estate mate in Hancock Park.

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