The story of how Emilie Halpern, a conceptual artist living in Los Angeles, came to reimagine her entire house in the Los Feliz neighborhood starts out with a girl crush. “I first met Jessie through our children’s preschool,” says Emilie, referring to Jessie Young of furniture and interior design studio Estudio Persona. “I remember thinking, Who is this cool lady with an accent wearing black leather shorts? I want to be friends with her.”
The women clicked, and soon enough Emilie became familiar with Jessie’s work at Estudio Persona, which she cofounded with fellow Uruguayan expat Emiliana González. Seeing the duo’s fresh approach to design and collaborative spirit captivated the artist. “I noticed how Jessie and Emiliana complemented each other, bouncing ideas back and forth very spontaneously,” says Emilie. “It was inspiring to see these two minds coming together and being so expansive—I wanted in.”
As it turns out, Emilie’s home, a post-and-beam construction from 1962, was in dire need of a makeover. The two-story, four-bedroom property looked rather gloomy and dated, with dark walnut slats covering some of the walls, mauve paint covering others, and a handful of old louvered windows that obstructed natural light. “I love beautiful things, but I didn’t have the skills to translate that into furniture and interiors,” she says. “Jessie and Emiliana came in and responded to what each room needed.”
While respecting the home’s midcentury style (those interior walnut slats stayed), the designers worked to create a lighter, more contemporary feel. They painted every non-paneled wall white, replaced a few windows, and paired custom pieces with items from their existing furniture collection, which is largely inspired by avant-garde sculptors and painters. The result is an effortlessly chic atmosphere where muted colors, natural materials, and sculptural shapes come together in a kind of earthy minimalism. “There was this very strong retro look that needed to be softened,” explains cofounder Emiliana. “We used a lot of blond wood and textures like jute to create a sense of calm and warmth.”
Estudio Persona’s pared-down esthetic was an ideal fit for Emilie, whose own sculptures, prints, and installations have a minimalist sensibility. “Now that the house is done, I miss them,” she says. “I actually still see them all the time, but I miss sitting there dreaming about what could be, and then watching it happen.”
Custom furnishings changed things up
Thanks to a few key pieces from Estudio Persona’s furniture line—matched with carefully selected artworks and accents—the living room and entrance went from midcentury to 21st century.
Minimalism is a calming force throughout
Several rooms in the house have a distinctly Japanese austerity, owing not only to Emilie’s taste but also to her lineage. “Her grandfather was a Japanese artist, so it was important to bring that heritage into her home,” Emiliana explains.
It’s all in the details
Small alterations make a big difference when it comes to lightening a room. The designers replaced a series of old louvered windows in the guest bedroom and playroom, which not only looked dated but also blocked sunlight, leaving the rooms dim and unwelcoming. Throughout the home, built-ins save the day when it comes to keeping things neat. Lastly, Studio Persona painted the formerly mauve walls a bright white.