Walking into celebrity photographer John Russo’s mid-century home in Los Angeles is like stepping onto a cloud. “He was really excited about doing a complete white palette”, says interior designer Erin Valencich. “He wanted everything light and bright. Very clean and austere.”
This was the second design project for the pair, who’ve worked together professionally on and off for six years. “His first house was Spanish style and incredibly charming,” the designer says. “When he purchased this midcentury home, he wanted a complete new look”.
To bring the 1957 two-bedroom, two-bath home into the modern day, Valencich and Russo renovated pretty much everything. “We opened up the kitchen and gut renovated it. We painted the floors, renovated the bathrooms, and painted it all.” They also added a one-bedroom guesthouse below the main house, which sits on a hill in the treetops, with great views of the city.
Valencich thought it important to warm up the space, though, so she added touches of color and natural elements to break up expanses of white.
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Many of the “pops” are John’s own abstract photography, as well as paintings by his artist father, Dan Russo. Valencich also added warmth with accessories like glass bottles from More Fire Glass Studio, rugs from Amadi Carpets, and assorted throw pillows from Room & Board.
The midcentury modern architecture of the home, she says, “set the stage for a clean-lined space and slightly sparse furnishings.” Given the home’s simple detailing, “each piece’s shape was important against the architecture and the clean palette,” the designer says, so she sought furniture that could hold its own. A group of petrified wood stools, a sculptural black side chair by Siglo Moderno, and the designers’ own Pasadena Chairs all worked to create special standout moments throughout the space.
In every room, on every wall, around every corner, you get the sense this home was thoughtfully curated—not overly collected but designed with restraint and strategy. The partnership of a talented designer and an artist with an eye for composition is everywhere you look.
“White is clean, ethereal, and makes me happy,” Russo says of his color palette of choice—which is a peaceful, soft retreat from the color-happy sets he sees daily, shooting celebrity magazine covers around the world.