Highly sought after designer and California native, Chris Barrett, founder of Chris Barrett Design, beautifully renovated the 1920’s Country English estate, 414 S. Rimpau Blvd, in Hancock Park. The meticulous renovation has transformed the estate into a light, “Hamptons-esque,” classic, yet fun home.
Chris generously lent her time for a Q&A with The Agency.
As a designer, what is it about 414 S. Rimpau Blvd. that truly stands out to you?
It feels like it belongs in a different city. Every time I visit, from the moment I walk through the front gate, and I’m protected by the tall green hedges and surrounded by the garden landscape, I feel transported to a quieter, slower place. The interior feels the same way. It’s always very comfortable and calm in the house. I think that’s because my clients who live there really, truly love the space. They keep everything just as it was when we placed things during installation, perfectly. Music is always playing, candles are always lit and everything shines just as intended.
I read that you have developed a fine tuned sense of history and bring that knowledge of the past to your interior design projects. In what ways does 414 S. Rimpau Blvd. bring elements of the past into the design, and how were you able to blend both past and present so effortlessly?
When you are working with a house like Rimpau, half the work of blending past and present is done for you. You have the architecture to present the past, so you just fill-in with present touches that feel appropriate. Take the entry for example. We inherited a dark stained wainscot that covered the entire bottom half of the room. It was very dark and felt a little stuffy, so we brought it back to life with bright white paint, and paired it with a crisp white linen wall-covering. Not necessarily something you would have seen a hundred years ago, but it feels right today, while still being respectful of the original intention.
Growing up in California has influenced your design style. In what ways can you notice California influences in 414 S. Rampau Blvd, a property which has been outwardly described as having a ‘Hampton-esque look?’
Actually, I see Rimpau as more of a Tudor style with the most obvious California influence being the pool, and the lifestyle that requires such a feature— indoor/ outdoor living. Additionally, the traditional Tudor style is heavy on embellishment, so we’ve kept the furnishings and details relatively simple creating a light feeling which is certainly a characteristic that is very Californian.
Light and sustainable design is an important aspect of your work. In what way did you uniquely blend those two elements in the renovation of 414 S. Rimpau Blvd?
As I mentioned before, all of the originally dark stained woodwork in the entry was painted white. We did this in other rooms as well to let the light reflect off every surface. This not only brightened up each room, but allowed us to salvage materials and features that already existed. These were beautiful details. We didn’t want to completely scrap all of that and completely replace it with something new. There’s no reason to reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
What would you say is the single most important piece to you in creating a beautiful living space? Is it possible to pick one?
It changes all of the time, but I find that I’m most often inspired to start building a room around a beautiful rug. Whether it be vibrantly colored and patterned, or neutral and solid, the rug kind of sets the tone of the room. It’s the one thing that can really give a client the sense of the space without seeing anything else.
In this home, the formal dining room is lined with books, creating a wonderful environment. What are you reading right now, and in what ways do functional and interactive accent pieces, like books, create a more inviting space?
I love to read. To me, surrounding yourself in the texture of books is the ultimate of luxury, especially considering today that most people no longer buy books. Right now, I’m reading ‘The Valley of Amazement’ by Amy Tan, but I read all different genres. I love a quick chick lit book, and I’m a big fan of courtroom dramas, i.e., Scott Turow.
Where is your favorite part of Los Angeles to visit for inspiration?
To me the best part of living here is being able to see the ocean. It has such an effect on how you feel. I try to recreate that feeling a lot when I work.
What are you most thankful for in your life right now?
I most thankful for my health, my kids, the wonderful people I work with, and my very special clients!
For more photos of 414 S. Rimpau click here.