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Salvaged in style

As the do-it-yourself revolution takes to the streets, one L.A. home mixes found furniture with fine art. Risky? Sure, but the reward is a look you won't find at the mall.

June 07, 2007|Craig Nakano | Times Staff Writer

Cane chairs in front of the living room window are from her parents' house and have moved with her since she struck out on her own; Carr painted them black and added Jonathan Adler pillows. A lamp from the Rose Bowl Flea Market and a glass bird that once belonged to Adam's grandfather sit atop a music cabinet originally owned by Carr's grandmother, who received it as a gift following her first piano recital at age 11.

The dining room buffet is illuminated by lamps that Carr found while shopping with her sister in a Wisconsin antique mall. A golden bowl that once held flowers sent by Adam's father as congratulations of his son's engagement now cradles a dozen or so artichokes as an inexpensive, organic sculpture. Two partridge figurines -- also golden -- were garage sale finds. "I saw those gold birds and I was like, 'Really, honey?' " Adam says, wrinkling his nose. "But they somehow look right in that space."

Each room carries fond reminders of specific times and places in the Carrs' lives, sweet memories that happen to come in the form of bargain buys and orphaned furniture.

"It's effortless," McCollian says. "It's not contrived, it's not themey. It has soul, and I don't mean that in a cheesy way, because Carrie's not like that either."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Friday June 08, 2007 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 33 words Type of Material: Correction
Salvaged decor: In Wednesday's Home section, an article on the home of Carrie and Adam Carr included a photo caption identifying the couple's Spanish water dog as Paulo. The dog's name is Pablo.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday June 14, 2007 Home Edition Home Part F Page 7 Features Desk 0 inches; 31 words Type of Material: Correction
Salvaged decor: A June 7 article on the home of Carrie and Adam Carr included a photo caption identifying the couple's Spanish water dog as Paulo. The dog's name is Pablo.

Sure enough, when a photographer arrives to take pictures, he has a hard time believing that so many of the pieces have such humble origins. "When I look in my alley," he says, "I don't see anything like what I see here."

"That," says Carr, ever the castoff queen, "is because I've already been in your alley."




Putting it all together

Carrie Carr and husband Adam can pull off their high-low mix without it feeling contrived because the house, like the couple, never takes itself too seriously. It doesn't try to impress, and humor shines through. Here's how:

The mix: The most amusing elements, of course, are the pieces of furniture that have been scored from unusual sources. Each is an instant story. Careful editing, however, prevents the house from feeling cluttered. Carrie Carr likes McCoy pottery, for example, but collects only white. The singular color allows the collection to make a strong visual statement without looking busy.

Rugs: Hides and faux skins, bought instead of pricey rugs, not only save money but also add a touch of irreverence. The cowhide in daughter Caroline's room has been dyed pink to match the decor.

Risks: Part of the fun of Carr's house, sister Darbie McCollian says, is seeing her experiment. "She was onto sisal carpet way before it was huge," McCollian says. "Then sea grass. I remember when she got bamboo blinds before anyone else."

Piero Fornasetti: The couple developed an affinity for the late Italian designer's work through Adam's mother, who carried it in her since-closed Melrose Avenue store, Pieces. Reminders of his sly wit are everywhere in the home: plates on walls, an art book in the master bedroom, chairs in Adam's home office. "He was a master comic," Carr says. "His pieces are fun and playful."

-- Craig Nakano


More photos on the Web

For an expanded gallery of pictures from the Carrs' house, look for the Home section online at

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