Photographer Gray Malin and his husband aim for a picture-pretty but comfy home
Gray Malin, left, and husband Jeff Richardson relax on the deck of their West Hollywood home with their with dog, Stella. Inspired by Malin’s photography, they added Pagoda parasols from California Umbrella for a Mediterranean beach feeling.(Christina House / For The Times)
A glass coffee table becomes a vitrine for books, magazines and decorative boxes.(Christina House / For The Times)
Gray Malin and Jeff Richardson have decorated their renovated 1940s Spanish home with Malin’s colorful photographs and equally vibrant pieces of furniture from affordable contemporary retailers.(Christina House / For The Times)
Another view of the living room reveals a strong, symmetrical furniture plan with a pair of Malin photographs hanging above matching side tables and lamps from One Kings Lane.(Christina House / For The Times)
Designer Orlando Soria from Home Polish helped Malin and Richardson decorate. In the living room, the white bordered window shades by Neal Bernardino and upholstered armchairs add sophistication to a room with bright splashes of color.(Christina House / For The Times)
The animal-head jiggers have a story. “My godfather gave me one every year from age 16 to 21,” Malin says. “They stand on their heads and form a shot glass.” The decanter is from Juliska.(Christina House / For The Times)
A tray on a console in the foyer serves as a catchall for Malin and Richardson’s sunglasses.(Christina House / For The Times)
Beachy wallpaper enlivens the guest bathroom.(Christina House / For The Times)
Malin’s “Lisbon Umbrellas” is part of a collection of wallpapers based on his photographs. It is sold at Harbinger in West Hollywood.(Christina House / For The Times)
Gray Malin, left, Jeff Richardson and Stella kick back on a sectional sofa from the Joneses L.A. The curtains are from Pottery Barn, the table from West Elm and the fiddle leaf fig tree from Mickey Hargitay Plants. The photographs are Malin’s.(Christina House / For The Times)
Malin stands behind a surfboard imprinted with his “Cape Town Waves” image.(Christina House / For The Times)
“This is Stella’s third favorite place to nap,” Malin of a bed dressed with monogrammed Ralph Lauren linens. The headboard was custom made from a Tommy Bahama banana leaf pattern purchased at Jo-Ann.(Christina House / For The Times)
On a CB2 bedside dresser, an apple green lamp from One Kings Lane.(Christina House / For The Times)
Gray Malin and Stella get dibs on the bed. Jeff Richardson sits in a chair from West Elm. The rug is from the website Lulu & Georgia. The photograph above the gray West Elm dresser is Malin’s “Room Service.”(Christina House / For The Times)
The foyer, painted in Pratt & Lambert coral shade called Jessie, opens onto a living-dining space with cabinetry in Pratt & Lambert Noir.(Christina House / For The Times)
Jeff Richardson, left, and photographer husband Gray Malin share a toast in their kitchen. This part of the house has a preppy, nautical vibe, with white tile and navy blue cabinetry. The 1960s dining chairs, painted cherry red, feel almost Chinese.(Christina House / For The Times)
In the kitchen, a birthday bottle of champagne keeps company with Malin’s “5 O’Clock.”(Christina House / For The Times)
A Carter Kustera silhouette rendering of Stella hangs on the wall above ceramic dog dishes by Jill Rosenwald.(Christina House / For The Times)
A Gray Malin and Almond surfboard is installed above the kitchen window.(Christina House / For The Times)
Gray Malin and husband Jeff Richardson in their kitchen.(Christina House / For The Times)
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.”
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