A Home in Progress
The hideaway of fashion designer Janice McCarty brims with her unique handiwork, functional art ranging from teapots to lampshades. Like the line of women’s clothing she offers at her namesake West Hollywood boutique, McCarty’s nearby home is a whimsical mix of the elegant and the funky, the refined and the homespun. “It has all the traditional elements — a sofa, washer-dryer, fireplace — but I try to create a mood of lightness and comfort that feels effortless.”
McCarty, who grew up a San Francisco flower child, began sewing and making jewelry and leather crafts as a teenager. “I’m still a wizard with scissors,” she says, “even when it comes to cutting metal.” Inspired by late-night movies, old books and magazines, she continues to update her surroundings with swap-meet finds and raw materials from restoration catalogs, hardware stores and lumber yards. No surface of her house is immune: Walls and ceilings are stenciled or appliquéd with wood stars; cabinets, doors and window frames are painted and distressed. McCarty uses big, unmatched buttons as drawer pulls, to fasten curtain loops and to enliven an exposed sofa back. She makes curtain rods from avocado branches and, out of sheets of aluminum, she crafts a fireplace screen, vases and candlesticks, which are then transformed into “house jewelry” with twists of wire and beads.
Strong, clear colors are a key ingredient of McCarty’s design. Against a luminous white background, she scatters red, mustard gold, navy blue and verdigris green in tiles, ceramics, cushions and flowers. For a folk-art feeling, she adds family photographs, old chests, rag rugs and Old Glory upholstery. Candles lend sparkle, as do a collection of silver-colored objects, including an antique tea service and aluminum pails that hang from the ceiling and sprout ivy. “A house is like a huge art project to me,” McCarty says, “and you get the bonus of living in it.” – Joanne Jaffe