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How the ‘ugliest home on the block’ became a minimalist refuge for Poketo’s Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung

Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan
At their Mt. Washington home, Angie Myung and Ted Vadakan surround themselves with art, furnishings and crafts designed by many in the Los Angeles creative community they collaborate with and help to promote.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

“I don’t want to see anything when I get home,” says Angie Myung, creative director of Los Angeles-based Poketo. “We have so much stimuli at work. I spend hours looking at Pantone paint color chips. It’s nice to come home to a clean palette.”

She is standing in the open kitchen of her Mt. Washington home, surrounded by white Ikea cabinets, white Caesarstone countertops and white subway tile as her husband and Poketo partner, Ted Vadakan, pours coffee into handmade ceramic mugs by Los Angeles-based ceramicist Ben Medansky.

The shade of paint, also white, gives the interiors a serene feeling that prompts Vadakan to hail “the view of the San Gabriel Mountains as the art.”

Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung’s kitchen in Mt. Washington features inexpensive Ikea cabinets.
Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung’s kitchen in Mt. Washington features inexpensive Ikea cabinets.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times )
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How can the couple, who are known for creating colorful, boldly graphic accessories and housewares spanning iPhone covers to bike helmets, subsist in such a muted environment?

The owners of four brick-and-mortar stores, who choose their furnishings and accessories deliberately, are careful to accentuate their interiors, not overpower them.

At home, they surround themselves with art, furnishings and crafts designed by many in the Los Angeles creative community they help to promote through DIY workshops, pop-ups and most recently, their book “Creative Spaces: People, Homes, and Studios to Inspire.”

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Take a walk through their minimally furnished home and you will find lighting by Brendan Ravenhill, barstools by Scout Regalia, and ceramics by neighbors Tracy Wilkinson and Raina J. Lee.

The couple, who are both 45, describe themselves as opposites. Myung is a realist. Vadakan is an optimist. Myung was born in Korea and grew up in Seoul and Walnut, Calif. Vadakan was born in Thailand and grew up in Laguna. Their home, however, is one place they can share their similarities.

“We wanted our home minimal but not cold,” says Vadakan. “We wanted to cleanse the palette.”

Adds Myung: “We don’t have much stuff. We share a closet.”

Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung’s Mt. Washington home before it was remodeled.
Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung’s Mt. Washington home before it was remodeled.
(MLS)
Following a remodel, the Mt. Washington home of Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung of Poketo is now a light and bright retreat.
Scooter, in the updated light and bright interiors.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times )

For more than 12 years, the couple shared more than a closet, as they ran Poketo out of their small Echo Park home. (The store now has four locations in L.A.: DTLA Arts District, Little Tokyo, the Platform complex in Culver City and the Line Hotel.) After living and working together in tight quarters, it’s not surprising the couple “needed some peace,” says Myung. “It’s always the first question people ask us,” she adds. “How do we work and live together?”

They found the two-story 1987 house in Mt. Washington separately and each presumed the other wouldn’t like it. “It was the ugliest house on the block,” explains Vadakan. “It was painted puke green. The stairs were falling down. It had dark interiors and a tiny galley kitchen.”

Still, the 1,200-square-foot house was situated on a peaceful hillside overlooking a tree-filled canyon.

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“It’s not just about the way it looks, but the way it sounds,” Vadakan says of their home. “It’s super quiet here. We hear owls and coyotes.”

The bedroom features lighting by Brendan Ravenhill and silkscreen prints by Gabriel Stromberg.
The bedroom features lighting by Brendan Ravenhill and silkscreen prints by Gabriel Stromberg.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

The house also presented them an opportunity to personalize their living spaces while offering room for Angie’s mother and grandmother when they are in town from Korea.

After purchasing the three-bedroom, two-bath house in 2015, they spent three months renovating it. The couple’s opening of the walls between the living room and kitchen improved the flow, light and views from room to room while enlarging the kitchen and living room.

Wherever possible, they reused what they could, such as the bathtubs, showers and tile, which they reglazed, along with the doors. In another budget move, they used inexpensive Ikea cabinets and vanities to keep costs down as well as oversize G40 light bulbs from Home Depot throughout the house.

Popcorn ceilings were removed while black aluminum windows, bleached bamboo flooring and a wraparound deck were added.

Behind the house, they installed a deck — the biggest expense of the renovation — which offers them usable outdoor space and a place to entertain.

A new deck offers usable outdoor space.
A new deck offers usable outdoor space.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

While Poketo is happy and fun and colorful, their home is spare. What is shared is a commitment to community.

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“Collaboration is important to us,” says Vadakan. “It’s a part of us. It builds friendships.”

Long Beach-based artist Eric Trine of Amigo Modern, whose furnishings and objects are featured through their home, says that in the Los Angeles design community, all roads lead to Poketo. “They are the hub,” says Trine. “Ted and Angie have run their business like one big dinner party, and everyone is invited, and the table keeps getting longer, the food keeps getting better and you don’t want the conversation to end. When I walk into their home, I see a reflection of that community in the furniture and objects they live with. I see the things I made, that my friends made, and I immediately feel that comfort and connection.”

It may have been the ugliest house on the block, but their home is now a testament to the couple’s longstanding influence on the Los Angeles design community.

“We started Poketo as a fun project,” says Myung. “It still is.”

Ceramics by Tracy Wilkinson and Raina J. Lee
Ceramics by Tracy Wilkinson and Raina J. Lee decorate the Mt. Washington home of Poketo’s Ted Vadakan and Angie Myung.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times)

Upcoming workshops at Poketo:

Oct. 26: Painting with Natural Dyes with Liz Spencer of Dogwood Dyer
Poketo Project Space at Row DTLA, $125

Nov. 2: Braided Rug Weaving with Last Chance Textiles
Poketo Project Space at Row DTLA, $95

Nov 9: Silver Stacking Ring Workshop
The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., $135

Nov 9: Metal Etched Jewelry Workshop
The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., $125

Nov. 16: Creative Small Business Essentials with Sophia Chang
The Line Hotel, 3515 Wilshire Blvd., $95

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