Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Suddenly, It's 1960

A little introduction to my good friend Kevin's place...  The Mister and I almost always come over in the evening for some lovely soirée so I thought it was best to present his place in this light, moreover Kevin is a witty and talented host and entertainer. He'll have you in tears of laughter after regaling you with one of his many stories. And I'm not the only one who knows this, the kids from Mortified do too. Two separate performances and a best of tour are a little more proof of the tales he can tell. 

In addition, what I love about Kevin's space is, it's about design but not Design, no big names or well known manufacturers , it's just design from a certain era and its de-lovely. (sorry, couldn't help myself)

So now that you have a bit of back ground... Above we are ascending his staircase.  You have to walk up quite a few steps to his place and it's always anticipatory. The buzzer to let you in, the many overgrown (and beautiful) plants on the way and an open door with a piece I've always loved.  I asked him about it and this is what he had to say.

I've collected old car ads since I was a kid, and when I saw this one on eBay, I thought it would be perfect for my place, since the building was actually built in 1960 and I wanted to build the atmosphere of the place around that vibe. As for the frame, it was kind of a lucky accident.  I had already framed the ad when I impulsively bought a small bookcase on eBay, which I liked because of its cool mesh backing. When the bookcase arrived, it was in terrible shape overall, and the only thing worth keeping was that mesh.  I noticed that it had a similar texture to the doorbell and thought of hanging it behind the picture on a whim.  It started as a way of salvaging an unwise purchase, but now I've come to love it.  I'm glad the bookcase didn't work out.

Also pardon that cocktail... it's not a cheesy prop that 's my Manhattan, that I kept unknowingly moving around. Oops. 

The living room is a testament to a period in my life when I had a real eBay problem. eBay finds include the pole lamp, sconces, fabric in the artwork over the couch, planter in the corner, ad over the piano, coffee table, and end table. The gray couch is from Crate & Barrel. The aqua couch also came from eBay, but the seller de-listed it several hours before the end of the auction, since no one had bid yet. I could tell from the view counter that there were going to be tons of bids at the last minute, but the seller was apparently a newbie who didn't realize that. When I saw that it had disappeared, I emailed him in hopes that he still wanted to sell, and he ended up offering it to me for far less than I expect it would have gone for otherwise. The white chair, Asian chest, and Asian print were in my family's house growing up, so they have sentimental  value. The print of the Anatomy of a Murder album art was the first piece of art I ever bought, at a gallery in LA, when I was 23. My favorite art in the living room is the collection of vintage pulp fiction, which I got at an amazing shop in the Tenderloin called Kayo Books ( This was another lucky decorating accident. It would never have occurred to me to put anything up there except that I wanted to draw attention away from the track for the floor-to-ceiling curtains. It was a nice try, but it still didn't do the trick, so I built the valance instead. Luckily, the books still looked great, so I left them, and the valance had the extra advantage of being a good place to hide rope lighting to light the books at night. At a party, people always get a kick out of checking out all the books and picking a favorite title.

Kevin also plays, so the piano isn't just for show. The door hardware was existing  when he bought the place and I'm so glad he decided to keep it. 

The picture in the hallway is a print of a photo by Ernst Haas called "Route 66, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 1969." It came from Z Galerie. The rotary phone below it was in my house when I was a little kid. It still has our old phone number printed on the dial. The lights beside the phone are made from old electrical insulators I got at a junk shop, along with the old soda bottles. 

One of the only items you see that has a name is the Paul McCobb desk and chair. Notice the vintage typewriter on the desk. Again you have the ebay shopper of the year at work here. From the light fixtures to the fabrics to the artwork. And the floating shelves he designed and built himself. Crafty and Thrifty!

In the bedroom, the matching Lane dresser and nightstands came from a great shop that used to be on Valencia that sold a combination of high-quality junk and nice vintage pieces that had seen better days. A fresh coat of varnish spiffed these guys up. The desk is from the Paul McCobb planner group, which I got from Another Time on Market St ( The typewriter, fabric, and movie posters came from eBay. The sconces came from eBay, too. According to the seller, they were originally used as outdoor lighting at a motel in Florida. The red radio came from a garage sale. The bed came from a Canadian company called Baronet. The various animals on the dresser came from different trips I've taken: Peruvian pig, Brazilian crocodile, Australian shark, Mexican dog, and deer from Seattle. 

And lastly a few details shots of the bedroom and kitchen. Kevin just had the kitchen remodeled, you would never know it except that the surfaces are now shiny and new but otherwise completely within the look he was trying to preserve. 

In the kitchen, the toaster and can opener are from eBay and so are the handles on the cabinets, which came from a warehouse that was being liquidated. They were in their original 1950's boxes and cellophane, unopened. The light fixture is a reproduction Sputnik lamp with Starlite bulbs. The table and chairs came from the same shop as the dresser and nightstands in the bedroom. 

The bunny rabbit painting was love at first sight. It makes me smile every time I see it and it reminds me not to take my furniture and my stuff too seriously. The artist is the extremely talented Mary Patterson ( and I got it at my favorite art gallery, City Art (

Well, I hope you enjoyed Kevin's place as much as we do. By the way, I was going to incorporate his answers in to the text here but it was just so much better in his words. Don't you agree?

Update! If you are interested in seeing Kevin perform in Mortified. (I really highly recommend it) Here's the info...
July 30 · 8:00pm - 9:30pm

LocationShattuck Down Low
2284 Shattuck
Berkeley, CA

1 comment:

karli said...

Love this post. His house is fantastic. So much great detail. I am ready to move in. Yay 1960!

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