I was intrigued when interior designer Joyce Downing Pickens told me that her West Hollywood, CA home reminds her of Miss Honey’s cottage in Matilda. Growing up, my sisters and I would watch that movie over and over again. Now that I think of it, I’m surprised we didn’t wear out the VHS. In the film adaptation of Roald Dahl’s book, Matilda’s teacher, Miss Honey, takes Matilda under her wing, bringing the magical girl to her cottage in the forest for afternoon tea. Miss Honey’s home is cozy, warm, inviting and nestled within nature – all of which perfectly describe Joyce’s apartment.
The 2-bedroom house’s back porch “wraps around to reveal a romantic hammock” amongst vines and in the shade of a tree. An outdoor dining set and fire pit give Joyce the perfect spot for entertaining – a “must” when she began her apartment hunt a year ago. Even Joyce’s pup, Mouse, has a dedicated place to kick back. His dog-sized teepee seamlessly blends with the backyard’s bohemian vibe. While Joyce loves nothing more than spending an evening on the porch with friends, she doesn’t have to be outside to enjoy the oasis. Overlooking the bungalow’s yard is her bathroom, where she gets ready every morning to the sounds of birds chirping and little critters zipping around her “wild kingdom.” All she has to do is open up the window and she is embraced by nature.
When the designer tackled tweaking the inside of her bungalow, she chose a neutral palette in order to create a simple, textural and spa-like feel. Joyce loves color, but knew that if she utilized too many bold hues, she would quickly grow restless with the design. That being said, she has strategically peppered in decor that feeds her need for color but can easily be adjusted when some new accessory catches her eye.
Joyce’s time as an interior designer has taught her the importance of planning. The home’s cohesive color story and fluid layout are proof that none of her decorating choices were made on a whim. She moved in with a full floor plan, ready to place each piece of furniture and art in the perfect spot. Joyce isn’t married to the layout, though. “I feel like it is constantly evolving, and I am constantly changing and adding to [my design],” she says. “That’s the fun part!” It’ll be difficult to top the look she has going right now, but I am sure Joyce is up for the challenge of making her Earth-toned bungalow even more fabulous in the years to come. Enjoy! —Garrett