For photographer Gray Malin and tech exec Jeff Richardson, home is where the art is.
Just a few years ago, their renovated 1940s Spanish home in West Hollywood also served as a showroom for Malin's popular works: aerial views of beach umbrellas and ocean waves or exotic animals and inflatable objects shot on South American salt flats and Antarctic glaciers.
"When I shoot a series, it always starts with one thought: Is this something I would hang in my own home?" says Malin.
Malin has found the sweet spot between fine art and decorative photography. Today, his direct-to-consumer approach has blossomed into something bigger than a cottage industry, with 10 employees, commissions from designers, hotels and retailers, and a host of fashion and home decor items — including wallpaper, bathing suits and Sperry Top-Sider shoes — all bearing Malin's colorful images.
Yet decorating an entire house, even one that had been recently renovated to create a gracious, high-ceilinged kitchen and dining area, was quite an undertaking.
The couple consulted with Orlando Soria, who is part of Homepolish.com, an online service that matches consumers with decorators who work at an affordable hourly rate, and also kept the budget in line by shopping at affordable contemporary retailers, including West Elm, CB2 and One Kings Lane.
"I'm addicted to lacquered Parsons tables. They're not fussy and have a little bit of shine and go in so many rooms," says the photographer, who used a pair from West Elm along with shelves by Serena and Lily in their casual home office and lounge, which is decorated with a wall of 15 Malin photographs and opens onto a deck and backyard entertaining spaces.
Like the rest of the house, the room is extremely dog-friendly. "Four seconds after this sofa came in," Richardson notes, "Stella was all over it."
The living room, however, is a more formal space for entertaining, with Midcentury Modern-inspired, upholstered pieces, tailored window treatments and vibrant jolts of emerald green. The dining room and kitchen, where more casual gatherings take place, have a preppy, nautical vibe, with white subway tiles, navy blue cabinetry and 1960s dining chairs with a Chinese flair painted a vivid cherry red.
"It's fun doing everything different than your parents," Malin explains. "You can take risks when you're our age."
They wanted something dramatic yet relaxing for the master bedroom. "The darker the color, the easier it is to mellow out in a room," he adds. They also took inspiration from tropical treehouses on their honeymoon trip on an African safari by selecting a Tommy Bahama banana leaf print for matching curtains, headboard and a canopy.
The house has all the signatures of Malin's photography: bold colors, strong graphics, rhythmic compositions, glistening surfaces and a dash of wit. On the backyard deck, a trio of California Umbrella's Pagoda model with scalloped edges reminds the photographer of trips to the Italian Riviera and references his well known beach shots — evoking faraway glamour in an accessible way.
"I've always wanted to do work that makes people feel included and not intimidated," Malin says. "And it's the same for our house. We always want people to feel welcome and at home. That takes a little while to achieve."
MORE HOME TOURS