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Silver Linings

In Silverlake, stylist Jessica de Ruiter and sculptor-designer Jed Lind update a 1950s gem into a bright family oasis.

Buy a house, then life happens.For Jessica de Ruiter and Jed Lind’s midcentury modern abode in Silverlake, the renovation of the structure was definitely a bigger project than they had anticipated.

“It took two years,” explains de Ruiter, a fashion stylist (C, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, W). “Plus, I had our baby girl, James, during the middle of it.”

Lind, a sculptor-turned-newly enlisted member of Commune Design’s team, took the reins on the lengthy process. In 1953, a woman artist and civil-rights activist commissioned Gregory Ain to design the house. It was then stamped by James H. Garrott, one of the few African-American architects working in L.A. at the time (he shared an office on nearby Hyperion Avenue with Ain). Lind was concerned that the footprint of the house remain true to its origins, but he wasn’t overly bound to them. Ain’s daughter Emily paid a surprise visit during construction and was able to share valuable recollections (as well as confirm the rumors of her father’s eccentric habit of doing headstands in every house he built). The couple upgraded the kitchen, bathrooms and even the built-ins. A number of rooms are angled with unusual geometry, so in James’ playroom, for example, they made the space feel more square by adding a daybed and bookshelf. They finished the exterior’s breezy landscaping with unmanicured plants such as creeping fig, lavender, sage, melaleuca and a myriad of natives; for the interior, they used warm woods, Moroccan rugs, kilims from Woven Accents and vintage Ikat pillows to soften and contrast sharper angles. De Ruiter’s first love is textiles—all upholstery on the couches is Libeco—and she has a major rug obsession. 

A share of the couple’s pieces were inherited from Lind’s mother. Other objects, like their white Milo Baughman chair, was picked up along the way. Many were commissioned, such as the unlacquered brass Byron Stripling coffee tables, and pots by ceramicist Stan Bitters. Lind fabricated several choice pieces including the office desk and the bedroom side tables. “If you look around, you realize there’s not much furniture. Most of the bigger pieces are built-ins,” says de Ruiter.

“This is a very different house for us. We both grew up in Toronto and were used to much more traditional architecture.” But Silverlake drew them in with all things cool: midcentury modern and high design, coffee spots and boutiques, the lake meadow and reservoir—that, and the house’s light, airy charms. “It just gets better and better,” de Ruiter adds. “It feels like it’s ours. I love the way the layers of the house keep building to make a real home.” 

By Amelia Fleetwood.
Photographed by Douglas Friedman.
Produced by Kendall Conrad.

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