We had the great pleasure of interviewing John Patterson and Jeff Valdez co-founders of Inspired Living Interiors.
How and when did you start Inspired Living Interiors?
John had a vintage furniture store in Silver Lake, called Sunset Orange, that he had acquired in 2002, about a year before meeting his future husband, Jeff. Unable to resist getting involved, Jeff brought his gifts of photography and graphic design to upgrading logos and merchandise rebranding to Sunset Orange.
This curious store name was derived from a vintage neon sign that hung as a marquee over the store’s entrance. Apparently, there was an old “hooker” hotel in Hollywood, on the corner of Sunset Boulevard and Orange Avenue. The neon sign was rescued when the motel was demolished, and was brought to Silver Lake and became a new landmark.
The signage inspired our focus toward unique mid-century pieces. Our catch-phrase at the time was “Soooo last century!!” We restored found pieces, but not back to their exact original look; we elevated them with fabric choices and such. ILI as a full service design studio evolved from that, beginning in 2007.
Was there a specific moment that inspired you to start?
Having spent his college years in an interior design apprenticeship, John’s career segued into the international Italian jewelry market. He found a partner who shared his enchantment with the beauty of furniture and the excitement involved in designing welcoming environments. It was that passion, joy and creativity that led to us saying, “Ok, this is it. This is what we want to be doing.” And that’s how ILI started.
What type of client works well for you?
Clients that have a very clear idea of their own style, who they are and what they want REALLY helps! Our job is to assist them in translating that awareness into a living environment – achieving something they don’t have the skill set to accomplish. We love when we can come in, fine-tune and enhance their vision.
What are some of your favorite projects?
Right now we’re working on building a new artist studio & kitchen remodel. These clients have a very clear idea of their style and are very creative. Jeff came up with the idea of having the artist create a unique design that will be silk screened onto glass and will become the back-splash in the new kitchen. Talk about custom design!
Actress, Katherine Heigl, was fun to work with. She came into the shop with her designer and bought a lot of furniture for her Los Angeles home. Then that turned into us spending time with her and her mom in Utah designing the interiors of the houses they were building there. Working with her was a new experience because the paparazzi were always around and we never knew how they’d find us. One time they all showed up out of nowhere so, in an attempt to evade them, John pulled KT’s car up to the front of the store so we could just rush out and hop in. But he’d never driven her car before and he couldn’t find the button to unlock doors! It resulted in a hilarious cameo on TMZ.
Our first official ILI client lives in a house that actress Ginger Rogers was rumored to have lived in. It’s in the Hollywood hills, 75 steps from the street up to the house. We essentially got to turn it from this kind of hippie haven house into a beautiful showcase. The kitchen has custom grain-matched alder cabinets. There’s an eyelevel picture window that looks straight out across to the Hollywood sign. Gorgeous custom chandelier, picturesque fireplace, it’s all beautiful. That client has a hard time visualizing anything; thankfully, he had an amazing contractor who was willing to mock up everything we wanted to do with foam core boards. Entire walls, steps, everything with foam core to help the client visualize it. We recently returned to the property to assist with the exteriors. We added new terraces to take advantage of the incredible “airliner views” of the downtown skyline, and incorporated beautiful sweeping staircases. The whole place is really lovely.
What, if any, other types of design resonate with you?
Art deco. We love art deco. We recently completed a full house restoration and created a new master bathroom utilizing classic art deco tile designs. Vintage sink and fixtures, repurposed the original tub, everything was in the original art deco style. A prospective buyer came in and said, “Hmm, I don’t remember this bathroom looking this way but I know it has to be original to the house…” That was probably one of our proudest design projects, by far.
We live in the Historic West Adams district. It has the largest housing stock of turn of the century houses with more Historic-Cultural Monuments (protected) than in the rest of LA combined. And we’re getting to restore them, block by block.
Aside from great design, what inspires you in your daily life?
Community, friends and family of choice (as opposed to the one you were born into). Our West Adams neighborhood is incredible and really supplies us with that sense of true community. We love it and are genuinely inspired by it.
Where would you like to see Inspired Living Interior Design in a few years down the road?
Right here, where we are now. In that we mean, a continuation of the current type and pace of work. We’re totally fulfilled and we’re working at a pace that is allowing us to focus and do really quality work. We’re really happy with it!
At lunch with Claudia the other day we told her we were waiting to see what the universe was going to decide to give us. THREE calls came in later that day.
What is your favorite inspiring quote?
Martin Luther King Jr.’s, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”
Also, Coco Chanel’s, “Simplicity is the keynote of all true elegance.” Less usually is more!
And one from Frank Lloyd Wright really resonates with me of late: “The longer I live, the more beautiful life becomes.”
What are you committed to?
Integrity. Personally and in design work. We’re not to the extent of purists, but we want a design that will integrate with the original structure. We want color schemes to be consistent with the age of house, etc. We want our designs to be modern in function but they should still feel comfortable in the environment they’re in. And of course to each other!
What made you choose your CED design?
First of all, we love Claudia, and in 2013, we were about to celebrate our 10th year together. John had assisted Claudia with her jewelry at Modernism Week in Palm Springs so he got to see her entire collection. Her work is so bold and modern without gimmicks. We chose the parallel bands with floating stones. To us, the two bands represent our individual lives, while the stones are a bridge connecting our lives together. We each chose a different color garnet that resonated with us, which are set in different directions. We jokingly say that, as in life, John tows the line while Jeff crosses the line. We love Claudia’s creativity and flexibility. These rings are definitely from her line but she was open to our input, and created something really unique and special, just for us.
How does the design make you feel?
Proud. We are so proud to have this really wonderful CED design. And proud that it signifies our commitment to each other. People respond to our matching rings, so kudos to Claudia for her design being such a great communication vehicle. Our CED rings are a great nonverbal expression of our commitment to each other.
What do you see as next on the horizon or are you just enjoying the moment as it comes?
Depends on what the universe brings us! Jeff is originally from Santa Fe, NM and has a contractor friend there, who builds award-winning, million dollar homes. We’re hoping to collaborate on a project soon as a sort of bridge back to Jeff’s roots. It’d be a really nice addition to our work and it’d be a lovely connection back to that community.
More at InspiredLivingInteriors.com
All photos courtesy of Inspired Living Interiors.