Rock 'n' Roll Vibes and Treasured Art Give This LA Home Serious Edge

Art, architecture, and music collide inside interior designer Kate Davis's edgy LA home.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

“I love the idea of great art dressing architecture,” says Los Angeles-born designer Kate Davis. A determined and dynamic mix of design genres and artists, Davis’s style has long been informed by this singular sentiment. Her carefully curated apartment off Sunset in West Hollywood—which she currently shares with her two pups—is an unmistakable reflection of her values, travels, and artistic heroes. Once a blank canvas, the light-filled abode now doubles as an idyllic backdrop for her knockout art collection.

“I was immediately drawn to the architectural elements of the building—the European arches, this sense of scale with large windows and 12-foot high ceilings, and the floors are the original hardwood floors from 1929,” says the designer. “The building felt nostalgic and fresh at the same time.”

Boasting a Euro-chic-meets-rock ‘n' roll aesthetic, the home is, in many ways, a love letter to the artists, makers, creatives, and designers that have inspired her.

Chair, vintage Pierre Jeanneret; Sofa, CB2; Throw blanket, Hermes; Black sofa, Restoration Hardware  Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

“I’ve been interested in design for as long as I can remember,” says Davis, who received her degree in Interior Architecture and Design. “I grew up in a mid-century home that's similar to the house from Boogie Nights. As a child I would consistently freshen up our home—selecting paint, finishes, fixtures, artwork, and furniture.”

While many look to Pinterest as their primary source for inspiration, Davis will often find herself scouring the pages of art books in search of ideas. Carlo Scarpa, Shiro Kuramata, Pablo Picasso, Julian Schnabel, Xavier Corberó, and Constantin Brâncuși are just a few iconic artists and makers who have shaped her vision over the years.

In the living room, a vintage chair by famed Swiss architect Pierre Jeanneret—easily Davis’s most prized possession—is a testament to this international influence.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

Situated two stories high, the apartment is naturally privy to treetop views and plenty of sunlight. “When I walked into this space, I immediately saw this giant, large, beautiful window and this living room that has an amazing sense of volume,” she says.

With friends constantly rotating through the door, Davis decided to max out her entertaining space by dividing the main living room into two spatially and visually independent areas.

“I felt like it would really make a statement to take this large room and flank these two spaces within it. I looked at the window and realized that’s the first thing you see when you walk in so I kind of rode that drama down the center of the room,” she explains.

On the left side of the room, she kept the mood light and airy with relaxed soft whites, natural textures, and plenty of plants. Her favorite art books, storied souvenirs, and other rare treasures top almost every surface.

“When it comes to layering, it’s really instinctive and really visceral,” she says. “I try to create a perfect balance that feels stylish but restrained, and create this symbiotic conversation throughout the space.”

Home to her extensive vinyl collection, guitars, and turntables, the right side of the living room presents an edgier point of view. Here, photos of The Cure, Bob Dylan, and Keith Richards serve as a reminder of her former life as an events DJ.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography
Chairs, Marco Zanuso; Table, Huset
Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

“When I started DJing, it was really something very organic. I grew up in a family of music-lovers and our world was always filled with all different genres of music—from Motown to disco to funk and soul, hip hop, and, of course, classic rock,” says Davis.

Before commiting to interior design full-time, Davis spent her time spinning for parties and clubs in LA and New York, as well as Art Basel in Miami. “In retrospect it was a lot of fun, but I had a strong desire to pivot back to my love for design,” she adds.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography
Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

Remaining true to her motto of art dressing architecture, Davis offset the whitewashed scheme in the dining room with a few of her most treasured and colorful pieces. Three skateboards by Jean-Michel Basquiat hang on one wall, while just opposite, a towering painting by David Hockney leans against another. When it comes to building her collection, Davis notes that she relies solely on her gut. “It’s instinctive. I either like it or I don’t,” says the designer.

For the dining table, Davis paired a marble slab she sourced from a local outlet with legs she purchased from Restoration Hardware.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography
Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

Character, natural light, and stylish finds aside, Davis still has to make do without the one thing all apartment-dwellers with dogs crave: A backyard. “Of course the pups go out a lot, but when they have to go, they have to go...and sometimes I’m gone for hours at a time,” she says.

Her fix? Creatively disguised as a zen, indoor garden of sorts, the grassy platform next to Davis’ desk is actually a makeshift bathroom for her dogs (don’t worry, the fresh grass gets replaced every two weeks).

Bed, Restoration Hardware; Pillows, Garde; Side tables, CB2; Bedding, Frette Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

With barely any closet space to work with, finding—or creating—enough storage in her bedroom was one of Davis’s most pressing challenges.

“With the goal being to preserve space, a closet armoire would be too cumbersome and heavy, so I went to the hardware store and assembled a black iron industrial pipe closet that would hang next to the small walk-in closet,” she explains.

Photography by Lu Tapp of Dustylu Photography

Never short on inspiration, her space is constantly evolving. Her home is an ongoing reflection of every trip she takes abroad and every visit she makes to one of her favorite stores (Orange Furniture and Galerie Half are her local go-to spots for vintage). As for what's inspiring her at this very moment? 

"I’m inspired to keep working. I love working. I wake up every morning thinking, 'What can I design today? What exhibits are happening this week?'" says Davis. "I’m forever inspired by traveling because I think there’s so much untapped magic in the experience of an adventure. Exploring cities, meeting new people, and observing how they move and live in different cultures is really interesting from a design standpoint.”

Published on May 19, 2018 - 5:15am EDT

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