Archive for October 2018

Don’t freak out—use our guide to Halloween in L.A. to find the perfect costume, the best parties and spookiest places

October 31st, 2018

Making plans for the most important holiday of the year—we’re talking Halloween, of course—isn’t so easy in sprawling L.A. Our guide to Halloween in Los Angeles has you covered with the best candy treats, the most inspiring costume shops, the rockingest parties, the best neighborhoods for trick-or-treating, and the coolest fall festivals and activities. Still not feeling the fall in Los Angeles spirit? We’ve also rounded up our favorite haunted spots where real ghosts still can rattle a few chains. Let the countdown to the thrills and chills begin!

West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval

This is the largest Halloween street party in the world, and there’s really no better place to be on October 31st. Sure, the crowd is huge (like, a half million people huge) and a bit belligerent, but the amazing display of costumes and general merry-making spirit deem it at least a worthy stop, if not your main destination for the evening. There will be dancing, drinking, and many mid-parade costume contests. Even if you don’t plan on entering one, it’s best to still come dressed to the nines—no one likes a party pooper in jeans and a t-shirt.

Wicked Lit

Spend a night in an Altadena cemetery as you’re led across the grounds for two spooky theatrical productions. Wicked Lit stages classic horror stories and invites a limited number of patrons to experience the immersive performances each night. This year’s stories include The Chimes: A Goblin Story and the word premiere of Teig O’Kane and the Corpse.

Paramount After Dark Tour: Tales From the Other Side

Take a two-and-a-half-hour guided tour of the Paramount Studios, as well as the neighboring Hollywood Forever Cemetery, during this after-hours experience. The tour digs up the dirt on Hollywood’s dearly departed and comes with a personalized souvenir photo and remembrance rose, as well as complimentary champagne and candy and popcorn hosted in an eerie location.

Knott’s Scary Farm

Encounter free-roaming monsters, terrifying mazes—spanning themes like Paranormal Inc., Special Ops: Infected and Shadow Lands—and more haunting attractions at the OC theme park.

Dark Harbor

The only thing better than a haunted attraction is a haunted attraction on a giant boat. You’ll find all the usual horrors here—fog, mazes and countless monsters. What sets Dark Harbor apart is its use of its surroundings; the dark, cramped confines of the Queen Mary are already pretty spooky even without monsters—just be prepared to climb a lot of skinny staircases. Tip: Arrive early for the $20 “Happy Haunting Hour” from 6pm to 8pm, where you can calm your nerves with a spiked potion at a pair of tap rooms.

Halloween Organ & Film: Nosferatu

Before vampires dressed in designer clothes and looked like Robert Pattinson, silent film director F.W. Murnau created the classic German expressionist retelling of every kid’s favorite campfire tale. Settle into the Walt Disney Concert Hall for a screening and live score of the film from organist Clark Wilson on Halloween night.

Creep Los Angeles

This year’s immersive haunted house, Awake, is a literal nightmare, taking place in a dreamworld made incarnate. It’s also a much longer show, at 75 minutes, than previous runs. Groups of 25 at a time will be led through a series of surreal rooms, each one its own multi-sensory horror. We’re also told there may be some “intimate encounters,” which may allude to the one-on-one scenes Creep shows typically contain in which lucky guests are secreted away from their group by performers.

Mickey’s Halloween Party at Disneyland Park

Hundreds of lively jack-o-lanterns begin to dot Main Street and a pair of park staples get a festive treatment: Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy and the Tim Burtonized Haunted Mansion Holiday. But only during Mickey’s Halloween Party can you trick-or-treat around the park and watch the Halloween Screams fireworks show and the Frightfully Fun Parade. Before Mickey’s Halloween Party festivities begin, you can hop between Disneyland park and California Adventure for up to three hours for added fun.

Annual Halloween Party for Downtown L.A. Kids

While Downtown may not be the easiest place to go when it comes to trick-or-treating, the locals know how to throw a party. The Annual Halloween Party for Downtown L.A. Kids at Grand Hope Park continues to thrive as parents celebrate the spookiest night of the year with bounce houses, puppet shows and faux trick-or-treat-doors.

Inside Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Justin Mikita’s Los Feliz Home, Where Wit and Warmth Rule

October 29th, 2018

Even without stepping inside the cyan-trimmed 1928 Spanish Colonial of Jesse Tyler Ferguson and his husband, activist and social innovator Justin Mikita, one fact is crystal clear: The couple excels at the delicate art of balancing kitsch and class, their cheeky wit fusing with aesthetic prowess. It’s a mashup of informal and formal that feels cozy and intimate in a way that betrays the Loz Feliz house’s size and the could-be severity of its original Gothic-inflected interior finishes—painted ceilings, stained glass, and ornate wrought iron. Perhaps the most exemplary juxtaposition: A “Homo Sweet Homo” mat welcomes guests through the impressive arched entry vestibule.

Ferguson and Mikita worked with Will & Grace set decorator–cum–interior designer Peter Gurski to fill the four-bedroom home, which clocks in at nearly 5,000-square-feet. (Ferguson met Gurski on the set of the 2007 show The Class. “I said, ‘Here’s my number if you need help buying anything,’ and he called me about a chair,” says Gurski.) Still, the design of the home is highly personal; most of the items inside it imbued with meaning.

The couple previously lived in a classic midcentury-modern house; now their home consists of a soaring foyer marked by not only a dramatic black birdcage chandelier but portraits of explorers on its domed ceiling and rare plaster “rug” worked into the wall, relics of a far more formal era. The Los Feliz pad and its resort-style dual-level pool that sends water cascading over curvilinear aqua-tiled walls (Ferguson calls it “ostentatious and very perfect for this house”) was previously owned by Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale, and after that Robert Pattinson. In Ferguson’s and Mikita’s version of the home, the Gothic vibe is far more discerning than ingratiating.

It’s impossible, for example, to ignore the George W. Bush portrait hanging waist-high in the living room. It’s a surprising if not shocking choice for a couple very public in their activism championing LGBTQ rights, but in keeping with their sense of humor, there’s a bit of a gotcha! moment involved. “If you look close enough you realize that the medium . . . it’s porn,” laughs Ferguson about the fleshy Jonathan Yeo collage they consider an investment piece (they also have the artist’s Onan the Barbarian depicting Arnold Schwarzenegger in their upstairs hallway).

Throughout the home, art choices almost always encourage a laugh. Take the giant portraits of their dog Leaf (named after Ferguson’s character, Leaf Coneybear, in the Broadway play The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee) and oversize Aztec-esque robots from Natural Curiosities they chose in lieu of otherwise more serious paintings. Collecting is a relatively new interest for the couple that came along with the purchase of this home. But they don’t take themselves too seriously: “There’s this place called Urban Outfitters, I don’t know if you know it,” says Ferguson wryly of where they’ve shopped without Gurski’s help (a pink neon heart from the chain store hangs unironically on their gallery wall).

This tongue-in-cheek irreverence blends beautifully with soulful artwork like a piece showing dual heartbeat lines called Lovers, found in a little Silver Lake Store, and a handful of paintings by Cuban art students, obtained during a trip to the island. “Each piece tells a different story of where we were, where it came from, which we love,” says Ferguson, a frequent traveler. Art purchases are all joint decisions, and they’ve enjoyed learning about art together, recognizing the feeling of being pulled to something whether mass produced or one-of-a-kind. “We’re not snobby about it; it’s about emotional attachment,” they say together, practically in unison.

That ethos explains their biggest living room pieces: a seasoned vintage Steinway & Sons grand piano—“We bought it knowing that when we have kids, we will force them to take lessons like we were forced,” says Mikita—and a giant metal horse. The latter came about during an exercise Gurski devised to build a dialogue with Mikita, since he already knew Ferguson’s style. On a trip to West Hollywood’s Pacific Design Center, Gurski posed the question: “Justin, what is it you love?” Of course, for their totally empty new home Mikita immediately selected “the most impractical thing: a huge horse made of bike and car parts,” says Ferguson, who claims to be the more design savvy of the two. “Justin loves seeing a ‘wow’ item and being like, ‘I want that.’” For Mikita, it was a knee-jerk reaction to the “beautiful giant structure” at Timothy Oulton that never would have fit inside their first home.

Thanks to the stallion, an animal theme now flows throughout the house. It ultimately informed their approach to design, says Gurski, “Like, not to be too serious, because it’s a very formal house. We thought, let’s be kind of cheeky and fun—that’s what Justin brought; he loosened it up.” The elegance of the Gothic paintings, coffered ceilings, plasterwork, stained glass, and painted tiles didn’t intimidate Ferguson, a New Mexico native who “knew how beautiful it could be. I felt like with the help of Peter you just have to embrace that and go boldly forward and not be afraid of color and pattern clashing.” When they bought it every room was white, “immaculately Spanish,” says Mikita; now there are just a handful of spaces that invoke that, though Gurski would happily paint or wallpaper the rest. Along with his styling abilities, he brought connections: Many of the customized furnishings were actually built or upholstered at studios like Warner Bros., others are from stores all around Los Angeles. “I don’t think there’s anything we wouldn’t want someone to have a glass of red wine on,” says Ferguson, which is a good thing since they entertain frequently, having dinners that turn into cocktail parties and pool days with the barbecue fired up. (Last year they hosted a dinner party for the whole Modern Family cast.)

The result is rich, humor-filled, and heartwarming—words their marriage also seems to embody. In a way, their relationship was put to the test by the massive project of buying and designing a home immediately after their wedding. Compromise was the biggest lesson learned, says the actor. The give and take “is more palpable when you’re actually looking at things: That was Justin’s, this is mine, that is something we love together. But when you look at the house as a whole, it’s very cohesive and works together, and I think that’s a testament to what marriage can be.”

Says Gurski: “Of all the couples I’ve worked with, their design relationship evolved the most.” And it’s still evolving, with new projects taking shape continuously, like repainted kitchen cabinets that pop nicely on Ferguson’s online cooking show, and an expanded upper deck that made a rudimentary platform into a cabana with a fire pit. “Peter got a lot of texts from both of us saying, ‘You tell him . . . ’” Ferguson admits. And, says Gurski, “That little nudging here and there made it all fit together like Jenga.”

When they bought the house, it had a small, rudimentary platform at the top of the steeply sloping property, giving way to a spectacular view. “It needed some TLC,” says Ferguson, who along with Mikita thought they’d simply spruce it up but ultimately created “basically a cabana up there with a fire pit that just kept expanding.”

Their nearly 5,000-square-foot, four-bedroom home came about after an extensive search—with Mikita doing the brunt of the legwork—and was the last house they saw of dozens. “We walked up and were like, ‘Oh, this might be it,’” says Mikita, who felt jarred by the teal trim in the photos, but when he saw it in person, “The minute I walked up I was in love with it.”

While the threesome—Gurski, Ferguson, and Mikita—mostly agreed during the design process, Mikita says there were times he “tapped out,” like with the yellow leather sofa in their beloved library. “I love that beautiful yellow; I love it so much,” says Ferguson, who specifically knew he wanted that exact piece.

The living room is one of the only spaces left white, whereas the couple’s previous home was almost entirely so. The gold-accented vaulted ceiling is a highlight, while the iron horse from Timothy Oulton stands out as a focal point. Mikita’s first and ultimately most important selection for the house—the very first thing they bought for it—informed the rest of the design, which melds humor with sophistication. There are Restoration Hardware sofas, tables they had built from reclaimed warehouse wood, a mirror made in the Warner Bros. metal shop, and spotlights from a shuttered restaurant in Los Angeles.

This story was published in Architectural Digest on September 25, 2018.

Architect Ron Radziner Reinvents a Midcentury-modern Classic: The John Lautner Garcia House

October 26th, 2018

When tasked by homeowner John McIllwee with renovating John Lautner’s 1962 midcentury-modern masterpiece, architect Ron Radziner and designer Darren Brown wanted to honor the architectural integrity of the home, while still bringing it into the 21st century in terms of design and technology. The kitchen was a focal point of the design and was outfitted with Dacor appliances, which bridge the gap between past and present.

A brief history: In 1962, respected architect John Lautner was hired to design a home in the Hollywood Hills for Russell Garcia and his wife. As a well-known composer, arranger, and conductor, Garcia needed a space that would allow him to concentrate on his work, while his wife entertained in their home. The result was a two-part structure with stunning archways. When Garcia and his wife moved out five years later, the house passed through five or six other owners before being bought by John McIllwee. It was McIllwee who brought on architect Ron Radziner after researching architects and midcentury homes in Southern California and coming across Radziner. Radziner’s firm had renovated Richard Neutra’s 1946 Kaufmann House in Palm Springs along with other modernist homes by Neutra, Albert Frey, and Rudolf Schindler, making them the perfect fit for the project.

Here, we sit down with Radziner to get his perspective on the remodel and its historical significance.

Renovating a historically significant home is a big undertaking. What was enticing to you about taking on the Lautner Garcia project?

This is an iconic house, and it was an honor to be asked to work on its restoration.

When you were brought on to renovate the home, what kind of research did you do? What do you have to consider when working on an historic home like this one?

In an effort to restore the original look of the house, the project demanded extensive research into the original materials and structures. For example, it took more than three months to find a nearly identical match to the marble in the original terrazzo, as the original marble aggregate is no longer mined. The color of the matrix was then matched, followed by the mixture of marble. We also found new lava rock to patch original lava rock around the chimney in the living room, as well as in areas around the pantry.

What was your overall vision for the home?

Our goal was to make the house look as it had originally, while making subtle changes to update it to modern-day comforts and standards. We retained the overall form, while updating the stonework and terrazzo. The original arched roof, two V-shaped supports, and color stained-glass windows all contribute to the home’s unmistakable sense of place.

What are some specific ways you kept the integrity of the home but upgraded it for present day?

We made subtle changes to blend in with the home’s original intention. For example, a reconfigured bedroom now has built-in casework that runs the length of the wall. The master bathroom, also reconfigured, includes updated comforts and new design elements like a spacious shower and bathtub overlooking the hills.

Like in many homes, the kitchen is the heart, where everyone naturally congregates. How did you go about making the space feel updated and at the same time fit into the overall midcentury-modern style of the home?

We updated the cabinetry with stained walnut and replaced the existing Formica countertops with honed black granite that actually looks like the original Formica.

Why did you choose Dacor’s Modernist line for the kitchen?

The Dacor appliances feel elegant and efficient. Not overwrought. But in all honesty, I’ve used Dacor’s cooktop over and over again because it’s simply the best looking one—clean and square.