Like many successful creatives and entrepreneurs, Brad Johns decided that the next step in his career as a celebrity hair colorist at the Riccardo Maggiore Salon was to become bicoastal. And let's be real, splitting your time between Los Angeles and New York City means getting the best of both worlds. To make things even more perfect, he found a dreamy two-bedroom apartment just a few steps away from the inimitable Chateau Marmont in West Hollywood to launch his bicoastal lifestyle.
To give his new California digs a sense of place while staying true to his style, he called on his interior design friend, Jennifer Feldman of JF Designs. "All the apartments I've lived in have had a basic black-and-white color scheme—I work with hair color all day and need to let the color cones in my eyes recharge. My apartment in Greenwich Village is black and white with plexiglass accents, so I asked Jennifer to do the same sort of thing," Johns tells MyDomaine.
When she brought up bone, faux fur, and marble, he freaked out, but he eventually came around. "She explained that the California climate calls for softer, casual colors and textures." And the end result was worth it: "It came out magnificently," Johns says, and it's still true to his personality. ("It's you, but at the beach," his friends tell him.) Keep reading to get a sense of this moody, texture-rich modern bachelor pad in West Hollywood with design wisdom from Feldman sprinkled throughout.
Discovering His L.A. Style
"Our client has been a personal friend for 20 years," which means that Feldman had a strong sense of his personal sense of style. "He's a lifelong New Yorker finally ready to make a huge lifestyle jump to start fresh in Los Angeles. This was a huge change for him, and giving us the control to take over was hard. Of course, he trusted us, but even he didn't know what the 'L.A. version' of him was supposed to fully look like." The design process involved a whole lot of experimenting and exploring.
"We wanted to give him a place to feel relaxed, at home, and able to start anew. And that meant we had to deconstruct his New York, hard-edged, sharp-lined urban surroundings and re-create it all in a new environment," Feldman tells us. "The design part was actually easy; it was helping him find his way through this emotionally that was harder. What items should come from New York, and what should stay? Should we work around something from the current home, or start over?
"Ultimately we decided that it was best to start fresh and leave New York in New York," she continues. "I felt strongly that he couldn't start anew if there were things that kept him feeling in limbo. We knew he needed to soften the lines, add the more relaxed washed-out tones, and reinvent his black-and-white palette to a coastal California style."
Handing Over the Reins
One thing he was allowed to keep? Artwork. "We knew our client was bringing a well-curated collection of his art to L.A., and this was a focal point to our design. A Cindy Sherman original painting, framed photographs taken by John Waters, and pieces by Brigid Berlin, Matthew Benedict, Diti Almog, and Tracey Emin."
But aside from that, he gave Feldman total control. "Brad was worried we were going to 'over-tchotchke' his house. He would wake up in the middle of the night and text me, 'Jenn, I know you like 'stuff' but I don't. So don't add too many things to the living room,'" Feldman laughs.
Another concern was wi-fi-related. "Brad had some nightmares from a past life where he didn't have his phone connected to the world—he was obsessed with making sure he had Wi-Fi the day he moved in! So outside of a few nervous phone calls, it was pretty smooth sailing."
Working With the Space
"The space is a two-bed, two bath, 1100-square-foot condo located in the heart of West Hollywood," Feldman tells us. "It was constructed in 1952 and consists of two penthouse apartments, one of which is our client's. The exterior of the building is a true Los Angeles blend of Art Deco and '50s retro chic." You can get a sense of this style history when you step inside.
Though they didn't have to make any major renovations, painting was a crucial step in making it feel fresh and new. "It's amazing how far white paint can go," Feldman says. "We literally covered the entire home in fresh white—all walls, ceilings, accent beams all got coated in a clean, pure white. It made everything feel bigger and more open and cohesive. The next step was upgrading the decorative lighting, adding new cans, and installing new window treatments."
All About the Layers
"He's a famed hair colorist in New York City who is behind the tresses of some of the most famous celebrity blondes. His entire life has been color! Of hair! And all he's ever known is living in clean black-and-white as a backdrop and relief from his work," Feldman explains. "We had many conversations about trying to change and do something different. But at the end of the day, we said, 'You are who you are, and this is how you've always lived. Why can't we just take black and white and translate it to California living? Let's bring in some softer linens and jute rugs so everything just relaxes a little bit.'"
So switching it up and creating intrigue with layered textures and materials was key. "I always say we're like master bakers—there are a lot of great basics that always go into a perfect JFD recipe, but the unique ingredients come into the mix differently with each client and that's what we are here to create," she explains. This makes for a personality-packed place that's totally customized yet still feels timeless. This sentiment really shines through in Johns's L.A. home, where the color palette is true to his black-and-white staple, yet there are plenty of rich textures and materials to add dimension, as evidenced in the kitchen above.
Casting the Right Light
As gorgeous as all the furniture and décor details are, Feldman's favorite thing about the space is how much light it gets. "I love how the light moves through the home," she tells MyDomaine. "The space is flooded with light, and you can literally watch the light and shadows move, like a sundial. It feels so good, and so California. Just like him." Aside from that, she also added an oversize marble bowl for the kitchen table. "He told me not to buy it, and I bought it," she shares. "Of course he became obsessed with it and even asked me for another one for his New York home. Sometimes you just can't listen to your clients!"