Fans of the blockbuster Back to the Future like to climb the tree in front of this film landmark on Bushnell Avenue in South Pasadena, reenacting the teenage George McFly’s fateful “Peeping Tom” scene. But that wasn’t designer Jamie Haller’s intro to this classic Craftsman, which she cosmetically renovated for a young family of four. “Prior to the owner reaching out, I had actually looked at the house to buy myself, so I felt connected to it already,” recalls Haller, a 20-year L.A. fashion industry veteran who launched her eponymous shoe collection and interior design business as a creative pandemic pivot. Haller is drawn to objects that have a story—her first shoe design was inspired by a jutti slipper she found at a market in Rajasthan, India. “I think of Craftsman houses as people and wonder ‘Who was she?’ Uncovering that story is part of deciding where the house is going to go in terms of design,” she explains. “I find a lot of joy in bringing older homes back to their own authenticity. I wanted to find a way to modernize this house for a family so it doesn’t feel too antiquated.”
Striking a balance between new and vintage is essential when furnishing a historic home. “Our needs now are different than in 1905, 1910, when a lot of Craftsman homes were built. People have problems like ‘Where does the TV go?’ or ‘It feels so dark in here with all this wood,’” Haller explains. “It’s hard to buy a bunch of new furniture and put it in an old house—it doesn’t jive energetically.” She describes this charming teal table from 1st dibs as “a lucky find with a lot of personality—whimsical lines, scalloped legs—that not everybody appreciates.” Pillows made from Vox Delft embroidered fabric brighten up a heavy wooden window seat. They have a different pattern on the back because they’re made from designer remnants collected by Haller.
The red leather chair came with the house, but Haller spotted the mirror that now sits on the mantle while she was on vacation in Ojai. “I texted my client and said, ‘I think this belongs with you,’ and she said, ‘Go for it,’” recalls the designer.
Deep porches and somber woodwork are Craftsman staples that often translate to dark rooms, which Haller lightened with paint. In the dining room, the family needed furniture their kids couldn’t destroy. “The late 1800s/early 1900s French farmhouse table was a special find,” says Haller, who paired it with sturdy Crate and Barrel Paton Black Oak Windsor dining chairs. “You can’t hurt something like that—this table had already lived a long, long life and had imperfections that made it more beautiful. This family is just a part of its continuing story.”
House of Hackney Gaia wallpaper in ecru with hints of brown replaced paper that was “too perfectly Craftsman without a lot of nuance so it didn’t feel current,” says Haller, who painted the walls in Farrow & Ball Studio Green to give them gravity.
Kitchen cabinets were refreshed with Benjamin Moore Jade Romanesque paint and soapstone countertops. “The clients really loved the deeper green, which connected well with the adjacent dining room,” Haller says. “I like a story to run through a house. I want rooms that are adjacent to talk to each other.”
“I like a sconce in the bedroom for functionality,” Haller says. “This one has articulation. It moves from side to side and up and down so if you’re reading you can pull it closer.” To source the linens, Haller didn’t have to search far. She shares a Craftsman home/work studio in Echo Park with designer friends like Bliss & Mischief’s Hillary Justin; the blue and white duvet cover in the master bedroom is from Bliss & Mischief’s new bedding collection.
Whitewashed woodwork instantly brightens and heightens. A mirrored door divides the cool gray master bedroom from a green pastoral-wallpapered dressing area, offering privacy and practicality (closet space is hidden just beyond the curtain). In front of the door is a well-worn family heirloom, which Haller recovered to give the chair a new life.
Two small children share the bedroom covered with Bellewood mural wallpaper by Rebel Walls. The Crate & Kids’ rattan bed echoes the forest motif, creating what Haller calls a “Where the Wild Things Are energy.” The bold table between the beds was an estate-sale find from a 1905 Harvard Heights Craftsman house in Central Los Angeles; the lamp is from Pierce & Ward in Los Feliz.
Making decisions can get weary after a while, which is why Heller tells clients to lead with their emotions. “I’ll build practicality into the design, but I want you to have that moment of joy when you walk into a room and see something you love,” says the designer, who also stresses the importance of following intuition, which is how this room came to life: “I really like the mix and match of all the colors and patterns—it comes together in a way that wouldn’t be understood on a mood board.”