Freelance writer Alissa Walker contributes to publications like GOOD, Fast Co. Design and the public radio show DnA: Design and Architecture. Named a 2010 USC/Annenberg Getty Arts Journalism Fellow for her writing about design and urbanism, Alissa still knows how to have a good time savoring gelato, posting about Peeps, throwing ice cream socials and relishing life in LA without a car. Along with graphic designer, illustrator and art director Keith Scharwath — whose recent work ranges from New York Times illustrations and the poster design for Beautiful Losers to art directing for Longshot Magazine (a magazine made in 48 hours) and the latest cover for the Los Angeles issue of GOOD — the creative pair live and work together in this 1940s home in Silver Lake. They moved to the vibrant, walkable community three years ago, which feels more like a small town tucked into the big city. It’s probably no coincidence that their bright blue home with white trim matches the street signs in LA, but it was love at first sight and the perfect place for the couple to showcase their love of color and bold, bright graphics, while also displaying the work of creative friends. Thanks, Alissa and Keith! And special thanks to Tara Wujcik for the photographs! — Anne
Image above: The needlepoint pillow is “happy” by Jonathan Adler; the other two pillows are by our extremely talented friend Emily Burton. On the coffee table is one of our favorite books, Todd Oldham’s massive retrospective on the great illustrator Charley Harper. On the far left is a Seeberg Select-o-Matic jukebox that used to be in Alissa’s house growing up and has now been restored by Keith. The poster on the wall is a 1967 serigraph by Sister Corita Kent, who was a Los Angeles designer and nun. Alissa wrote about the poster in the new book I Heart Design. The rug, because everyone asks, is actually from Ikea.
Image above: The bed is Modernica’s Case Study Bed, our one big splurge when we moved in (besides the washer and dryer). The nightstand was found at an estate sale in the Hollywood Hills. The crazy quilt was a collaboration between Alissa and her awesome mom, Donna Walker, who sewed the entire thing. Above the bed are posters that Keith designed and screenprinted for the band The Sads, which you can buy at his online store.
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Image above: The screenprinted map of California on the far wall is by the awesome Peter Buchanan-Smith at Best Made Co. The curtains are another piece of Marimekko fabric customized by Alissa. At the table is another vintage Eames chair (Keith used to collect them) and that’s a George Nelson bubble lamp rising over the table. The kitchen’s beautiful built-in banquette came with the house. The floor is linoleum.
Image above: In the kitchen, we have a constant stream of fresh local produce due to the tangerine tree in our yard and a CSA from Silver Lake Farms. The poster on the right is by the famous street artist Steve Powers. On the left are two pieces by our friend, the awesome Jesse Spears. The countertops in the kitchen are, amazingly, mahogany.
Image above: On the bed are pillows by Hybrid Home, floral pillowcases by Marimekko for Crate & Barrel, and a totebag that Keith designed for the independent art and design show Unique LA that Alissa turned into a pillow. The vases are all estate sale finds. The curtain is a piece of Marimekko fabric that Alissa purchased at the factory in Helsinki. And on a vintage Eames chair sit all of Alissa’s childhood stuffed animals and dolls.
Image above: Our hundreds of books are crowded into this old Ikea bookshelf (they need more space!). The desk is a big, heavy metal table from Alissa’s dad’s office. A library card catalog was an estate sale find thanks to Alissa’s mom. Our desk chairs are vintage Herman Miller Eames fiberglass shell chairs we bought on eBay. The Chinese lamp was scavenged from the dumpsters in LA’s Chinatown as they were replacing the lamps.
Image above: We are so lucky to live in California, where everything grows. Looking out our kitchen window and into the garden, you can see our massive pencil cactus in orange, and beyond that, a palm tree. In the window are succulents clipped from our garden, which we change out regularly. The pot on the left is from Home Depot, the one in the middle is from Sunset Nursery here in LA and the planter on the right is an estate sale vase.
Image above: Looking out from our bedroom is a dresser that was passed down from Alissa’s grandmother. On it are two of Alissa’s lunchboxes from growing up (Strawberry Shortcake and Holly Hobbie — both with the original thermoses!) and a variety of tin boxes scavenged from estate sales and flea markets. The mirror — which is very heavy — was bought at an estate sale. We’re blessed with big, south-facing windows.
Image above: The gorgeous garden is filled with succulents and cacti; other drought-tolerant plants like flax and lavender; and tangerine, peach and Meyer lemon trees. The planter that holds our vegetables at the center right of the photo was built by Keith. The gigantic cactus, which now reaches our second-story window, shows no signs of slowing down.
Image above: Our house is located atop a hill in the Silver Lake neighborhood of LA. On clear days, we can see all the way to Catalina Island. Our landlord is a graphic designer who has lovingly restored the house to its former glory and planted the gorgeous drought-tolerant garden.
(Keith also makes hand-painted signs in his workshop.)