The most colorful house on L.A.'s Venice canals
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Nely Galán’s house: The most colorful house on L.A.'s Venice canals

By R. Daniel Foster
Nely Galán’s house on one of Los Angeles’ Venice canals demands to be stared at -– and discussed. It’s a fitting house for Galán, former president of entertainment for Telemundo and executive producer of the Fox reality show “The Swan,” which gave women extreme makeovers. She gave her house -- actually a three-house compound -- her own makeover involving eight coats of paint to achieve its radiance. (Lawrence Anderson)
Galán hired artist and colorist Patssi Valdez to manage the color scheme. The women studied photos of homes in Cuba, Greece and Italy and famed architect Luis Barragan’s projects to arrive at a palette that includes orange, yellow, pink and fuchsia. Computer modeling helped to determine how colors would be deployed. “I went outside with my neighbor, and we thought it was being painted like that for a movie,” said Ruth Light, who has lived two doors away for 30 years. “Because who would paint their house like that?” (Lawrence Anderson)
Galán bought her property’s main house, designed by noted architect Steven Ehrlich, in 1999. Within two years Galán had bought two 1920s cottages next door. Galan had planned a $1.5-million renovation to unify all three houses in 2008, but when the economy pitched, she canceled those plans and decided to simply let paint marry the buildings. Gray is used on courtyard pavers, railings, steps, fixtures and gates to let the eyes rest. A 6-foot wall between the houses was removed to create a central courtyard. (Lawrence Anderson)
“Very much like old Venice, but dolled up,” said local artist Billy Al Bengston of Galan’s 1920s cottages. “Like old bags with a lot of makeup, but very good makeup. I took Anjelica Huston by, and she loved it, and I certainly lit up Frank Gehry’s ears about it.” (Lawrence Anderson)
The interior of the house is blessedly white on white, with a restful, spa-like calm. (Lawrence Anderson)
The home straddles a T in the Venice canals, lending a commanding view from the living room. Its 21-foot waterfall sheers flank doors trimmed in cool celadon. (Lawrence Anderson)
In the largely white bedroom, hints of exterior color come through the glass doors. (Lawrence Anderson)
Galán is a major collector of Patssi Valdez’s magical realist paintings, which add points of saturated color. (Lawrence Anderson)
Galán with her husband, Brian Ulf; son Lukas, 11; and miniature Yorkshire terrier Desi. (Lawrence Anderson)
Colorist Patssi Valdez is based in Echo Park. “She didn’t realize how difficult it was to combine the colors,” Valdez said of her client. “I knew they could become garish if they weren’t balanced.” (Lawrence Anderson)
Succulents look otherworldly against a blue wall. (Lawrence Anderson)
The front canal acts like a mirror to the property, at dusk reflecting the house that glows like a Chinese lantern. Galán’s take: “a modernist Latino painting.”

More Homes of the Times: California design profiles in pictures (Lawrence Anderson)