Browsing: Shopping for a perfectly imperfect soiree

Liseanne Frankfurt shops at Chariots On Fire in Venice for tabletop decor for an outdoor Sunday lunch.
(Michael Owen Baker / For the Times)

Sunday is Liseanne Frankfurt’s favorite day of the week. She closes the wrought-iron gates of her LFrank store on Main Street in Venice — where she sells her jewelry and lingerie designs during the week — and opens her home to friends and family. Her style of entertaining? “Not fussy.” She likes to whip up a salad Niçoise or a “quick and dirty version” of Eric Ripert’s uni pasta recipe and have people drop in and hang out. “Eating outside is just one of the best things about living in California,” Frankfurt says.

The setting helps. She and her husband live in one of the Modernique Homes – a.k.a. the Mar Vista tract of 52 houses designed in the late 1940s by architect Gregory Ain. (The midcentury development was a flop at the time, with houses selling for $5,000. Now the coveted homes rarely make an appearance on the market.) And Frankfurt’s garden, including its podocarpus hedge, serves as backdrop to the perfect lost Sunday afternoon.

Her tabletop accessories help too: pyrites and crystals she unearthed at the Tucson Gem show, ikat chargers from Anthropologie tucked under Royal Copenhagen plates and Peruvian shells given to her by her friend textile designer Gregory Parkinson. She combines these treasures with vintage silver, modern Danish candles, Japanese and Native American pottery, and peonies from Trader Joe’s (“They’re heaven”). “I’m all about layering,” Frankfurt says. “I Iove using all these pieces at the same time.” (From her own shop, Frankfurt likes to bring home beeswax candles made with essential oils; nothing synthetic. Her favorite scents include Frankincense, Rose on Main and Zen Garden, inspired by Frankfurt’s trip to Japan last year and the incense burned at Ryoanji temple in Kyoto.)

Liseanne Frankfurt setting the table for an afternoon lunch party at her Mar Vista home.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

On a recent Sunday, we tagged along as Frankfurt bounced in and out of her choice neighborhood haunts to show us how she shops for the perfectly imperfect lunch party.

Shopping at Tortoise General Store. "“We love Japan and they carry so much from there," Frankfurt says.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Where do you like to shop?

I love to shop in my neighborhood. My favorite stores tend to sell things you can’t get anywhere else. I like a shop that has a point of view and a vision.

What was the most ambitious party you ever threw?


We had a dance party in our basement. In L.A. everyone likes to go home early, and if you feed them early, they leave early. So I invited everyone for 9:30 drinks, dancing and dessert. I set up the dining room table Marie Antoinette-style with big trays of cherries, chocolates, tons and tons of desserts like pavlova. At midnight I had a chef come in and make scrambled eggs and toast. We danced till 3 a.m.

Beeswax candles on display at LFrank, Frankfurt's jewelry and lingerie store in Venice.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Have you ever had an entertaining disaster?

I’m still recovering from the dinner party where I had four long fillets of salmon, which I thought was more than enough. Julian Sands came up to me and asked, “I’m not being cheeky, but is there more salmon?” We honestly ran out of food and that’s the first, the last and the only time that will ever happen here.

Other people get so stressed entertaining. Any advice for the reluctant?

You have to go all in. I open my home and my guests are welcome to sit on anything or put a glass down anywhere. I don’t use coasters; I like the patina of wear. I don’t want my home to feel like a showroom. If you can, hire a bartender. But I’ve gotten very self-service-y lately; I just put a tray out with drinks and let people do their own thing. If you are a comfortable host, your guests will be comfortable.

You entertain in your store too, right?

I have four or five parties a year there. It’s like an extension of my home; I want everyone to feel like an invited guest. I offer customers a cup of tea or elderflower water. A store is a part of the community and connectivity amongst neighbors. If someone is having tea, I serve cookies I made. I used to make chocolate-dipped figs, but now I serve Milla chocolates there too.

The table is set. “I’m all about layering,” Frankfurt says. “I Iove using all these pieces at the same time.”
(Michael Owen Baker / For the Times)


Tortoise General Store

12701 Venice Blvd., Mar Vista

What she buys: Cake plates, tea canisters, utensils, glassware, tea towels, ginger graters, trash baskets, Christmas ornaments. Says Frankfurt: “We love Japan and they carry so much from there. I love their aesthetic and their mindfulness approach to beauty.”

A wooden bowl by Vernon Leibrandt at Turpan at the Brentwood Country Mart.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)


225 26th St., Brentwood Country Mart

What she buys: Gregory Parkinson textiles, Hermès trays, hand soaps, dog shampoo, pâté knives, martini pitchers, Vernon Leibrant wooden bowls. “Greg and Katherine [Turpan] have an eye for quality and craftsmanship, the best Turkish towel, best pencil. They’ve done the research; their store feels like a fine edit.”

Breadboards at Chariots On Fire in Venice.
(Michael Owen Baker / For The Times)

Chariots on Fire

1342 1/2 Abbot Kinney Blvd., Venice

What she buys: Makoto Kagoshima plates and dish towels, Juba Tenshin serving plates, Lemongrass French soaps, Ester + Erik cone candles, Edward Wohl bird’s-eye maple cheese boards. “I love their eye; I like how beautiful and unusual everything is. They find things you can’t get anywhere else.”

Chocolate at Milla Chocolates in Culver City. "Chocolate is an important part of the food pyramid for me," says Frankfurt.
(Michael Owen Baker/ For The Times)

Milla Chocolates

9414 Venice Blvd., Culver City

What she buys: Chocolate-covered praline cigars, Valencia Orange Bar, Raspberry Almonds Dragée. “Chocolate is an important part of the food pyramid for me. My neighbor, Christine, started her chocolate business in her kitchen three doors down from me. Now her store is like a chocolate gift box.”