After nearly a year and a half of house hunting, Jayma Mays and Adam Campbell decided to make a Los Feliz abode in need of an overhaul their first home. By paring the 1920s Spanish colonial house back to its essentials and adding a well-selected group of mid-century and contemporary furniture, the couple created a showpiece of Southern California living.
"We literally had no furniture so we were starting from scratch," says Campbell. "We thought: Let’s give it a go ourselves, and if it looks disastrous then we’ll think about using an interior designer."
The medley of vintage and contemporary furniture, design-shop purchases, and lucky Internet finds occupying the four-bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom, 3,200-square-foot residence renovated by architect Mike Jacobs is indicative of the couple’s casual sensibility.
"We wanted to find things that caught our eye and, more than anything, weren’t boring," says Mays, who currently stars as guidance counselor Emma Pillsbury on the TV show Glee. The residents furnished the great room—newly created after knocking down a few walls—with a mid-century Danish sofa, a rug by Scholten & Baijings for Hay, a Pure dining table from CB2, and Verner Panton chairs found on Craigslist.
Just as surely as aesthetics guided their furniture purchases, so did a limited budget. "Once you’ve done a remodel, you feel particularly exhausted in terms of ‘Wow, that’s the most expensive thing we’ve ever bought in our lives,’" says Campbell. "If we could find some really nice vintage pieces, we were totally happy to throw in some Ikea pieces."
"We needed furniture that was practical. Delicate, highly valuable pieces just wouldn’t work for us as we’re constantly moving things around to make room for parties and boisterous friends," says Mays, who frequently entertains and is an avid chef.
"There was one new couch that Jayma was obsessed with," says Campbell. "It was probably the price of a car. And she kept looking at it and thinking, Do we buy this? The budget forced us to be a bit more creative. I think ultimately it worked out much better than if we had spent a lot of money on high-end stuff because it would look a bit less ‘us.’"
The pair scoured vintage shops and flea markets for furniture, lighting, and accessories. "It was a lot of trial and error," says Mays. For example, she and Campbell initially selected lounge chairs for the newly hardscaped patio but soon realized that they needed a place to eat more than they needed a spot to recline in the sun. An old beer garden–style table and benches, purchased from local store Potted, allows for dining alfresco.
In the master bedroom, Mays splurged on a custom bed from Croft House, which has become part of the retailer’s furniture line and is now called the Jayma Platform Bed—"My claim to fame," jokes Mays. She covered the wall behind the bed with designer Erica Wakerly’s Angles wallpaper in cream and gold, which "became the focal point. I found that by doing little things like that, the room didn’t need as much stuff in it," she reports.
Just as the furniture is a mixture of past and present, so is the house that inspired the collection. "Mike created an open space with clean lines, so we selected furniture that wouldn’t disrupt that," says Mays of how she and Campbell unified the interiors and the architecture.
The couple gave Jacobs few guidelines for the renovation—add a bedroom, find a way to let in more natural light, and reconfigure the downstairs—and relied on the architect’s eye to coax out the structure’s best elements. "We asked Mike: ‘Can you try and make this house less schizophrenic and give it an identity?’" says Campbell.
"It read as a big puzzle," says Jacobs of the dim, disjointed layout. The house was built in 1925 and had three decades worth of additions stitched on. He preserved key architectural details of the original house—the heavy plaster moldings, the cast-iron handrail leading to the second level—and in the more recent sections, he removed walls to hollow out an expansive living-dining-kitchen area, increased the size of the second story, and added a raft of roof decks.
Though the journey of searching, buying, permitting, renovating, and furnishing the house took years, Mays and Campbell now have a place that pays homage to its history but is tailored to their tastes and lifestyle. "I feel that our furniture reflects the marriage of both old and new," Mays offers, "and hopefully does so with a bit of levity and color."
A New York-based writer, Diana studied art history and environmental policy at UC Davis. Before rising to Senior Editor at Dwell—where she helped craft product coverage, features, and more—Diana worked in the Architecture and Design departments at MoMA and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. She counts finishing a 5K as one of her greatest accomplishments, gets excited about any travel involving trains, and her favorite magazine section is Rewind. Learn more about Diana at: http://dianabudds.com