How One West Hollywood Home Went from “Ugly as Sin” to a Cool-and-Collected Gem

·4-min read
living room with high ceilings and a long sofa covered in a plant green velvet against the left wall and several small tripod tables scattered at center and opposite the sofa is a built in fireplace clad in metal and windows on the back wall with bamboo shades rolled up and a tall plant or tree peeking out from the corner of the room
Step Inside an Ultra-Cool West Hollywood Pad Chris Mottalini

Fixing up a house can be a romantic endeavor. Andre Herrero, cofounder of the architecture and design studio Charlap Hyman & Herrero, discovered this when designing an apartment for his girlfriend, Paige Zollars, who works in fashion. In 2020, Zollars and her sister, Laura, a music manager, purchased a West Hollywood duplex that was “ugly as sin,” Herrero says. Untouched since the 1970s, it had a dated ski-chalet aesthetic and a suffocating layout. “I’m so grateful Andre came with us to view it,” Paige says. “Only an architect could have seen the potential.”

view of the kitchen dining area with three people in the photo and andre herrero is seated at the wood table and two young blond women standing behind against the counter
In lofted study-cum-dining room, architect Andre Herrero sits at a table made after Enzo Mari’s Autoprogettazione series. Paige (left) and Laura lean on metal mesh bookshelves.Chris Mottalini

Herrero took it down to the studs and built it into a modern home of muted hues and airy spaces. Things got more layered when the architect introduced his favorite materials—stainless steel and metal mesh—throughout the home, helping to distinguish areas by use: “We hate open floor plans for small apartments,” Herrero says. “Everything just feels smaller.”

Cheeky art enlivens the apartment, while American antiques ground it. Everything was done on a shoestring budget without sacrificing quality. “We were crafty with our resources and took advantage of architectural quirks,” Herrero says. “Things that seem like negatives can contribute to a more romantic narrative.”

front view of a first floor and loft area with a large globe pendant at center and below are two wooden armchairs with leather seat and back and a small table in the foreground and a glimpse of the green velvet sofa to the right and on the loft area can be seen a table and some chairs through an off white privacy shade
White metal mesh folding screens inspired by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet’s modernist 1932 Maison de Verre separate the living space from the kitchen. The armchairs are by Pierre Legrain, and the framed paper cutouts are by Adam Charlap Hyman. Chris Mottalini

That romance was brought in by way of different periods, materials, and styles. Playful works of art balance out serious antiques throughout the apartment. In the living room, for instance, an Olivia Erlanger sculpture of a room within an eye hangs above the sofa. Intensely surreal, it recalls the dollhouses both sisters played with as children. In the convivial spirit, a pair of 19th-century Queen Anne–style side tables provide space to work or eat from the sofa, while a stool by Shun Kinoshita in the foreground acts as a home for cell phones, TV remotes, or any passing bric-a-brac.

Minimal though this project may seem in comparison to some of Charlap Hyman & Herrero’s past work, planning still demanded a thorough deep dive into references, people, and places from the last several hundred years. A series of contemporary material interventions take cues from historic interiors while remaining freshly up to date.

full on view of the fireplace clad from mantel to ceiling in stainless steel
Flanked by sculptural Lucky Star candles, the striking double-height steel fireplace is an homage to the Paris home of one of Yves Saint Laurent’s muses, Betty Catroux. Hidden behind it is a large-screen TV—the perfect, functional answer to modern Netflix-infused living.Chris Mottalini

White metal mesh folding screens inspired by Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet’s modernist 1932 Maison de Verre separate the living space from the kitchen without blocking natural light. Framed paper cutouts by Herrero’s business partner, Adam Charlap Hyman, hang easily on a perforated panel. Two significant Pierre Legrain armchairs of the same period as Maison de Verre purchased from Formative Modern offer movable seating and visual gravity in the living room.

Pragmatism was in high demand in the kitchen. “It was a disaster,” Herrero says. Barely functional before the renovation with particle board cabinets and a refrigerator that couldn’t open fully, the home’s kitchen is now rendered spacious by the use of under-stair storage and smart shelving above the stove.

small clean kitchen with off white cabinetry and built in stove and flush door cabinets
A 19th-century French Directoire candelabra by the sink is the perfect foil to the industrial Zangra pill-shaped ceiling lights in the kitchen.Chris Mottalini

Drama returns in the most personal spaces. To introduce some theatricality into Paige’s bedroom, linen was hung behind the bed, which is topped by a vintage kimono pillow and bookended by Adirondack twig tables: “We loved their witchy quality,” Charlap Hyman says. A striated bud vase by Yali Glass perches atop one of them, adding to their spell.

In sister number two’s bedroom the vibes were altogether different. “We were thinking a bit about ‘High Tech,’ the late-1970s and early-’80s design moment,” says Charlap Hyman of the steel Anne Libby sculpture above Laura’s bed. Its form, which mimics a pulled blind, adds some whimsy to the room. The rest of the decor is firmly functional, in a sense: A Victorian papier-mâché chair serves as a nightstand opposite a 1972 Tizio lamp from Artemide. On the whole, the home is a quietly evocative mishmash. “I try to create a bit of drama in every space I do,” Herrero says. “I want an emotional look.”

april 2023 cover elle decor
Hearst Owned

This story originally appeared in the April 2023 issue of ELLE DECOR. SUBSCRIBE

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