Designer Mandy Cheng leaves her personal mark on a treasure-filled, quintessentially Californian bungalow in Los Feliz.
Photos by Madeline Tolle
If’s walls could talk, they’d likely have some wild stories to spin. The designer adorned her 1,000-square-foot Los Feliz apartment—housed within a colonial-revival-style bungalow—with rare flea markets finds, vintage gems, and personal artwork with backstories as rich as the 70-year-old space.
“There is nothing about this place that feels contemporary, so I followed suit with my Mid-Century and vintage furniture and decor,” Mandy shares.
To uncover furnishings and decor that complement the decades-old building, Mandy largely eschewed big box retailers, with the exception of some key pieces—think an angular wooden bed from CB2 and a burnt orange sofa from West Elm.
Instead, she looked to vintage stores, flea markets, Etsy shops, and even Craigslist for rarer finds you’d unlikely spot elsewhere. In the dining room, she sourced a school chair from a vintage shop, a batik table runner from Etsy, and colorful pots from thrift stores. She also scanned a flea market for the perfect replacement for the pre-existing stainless steel light fixture and stumbled on a woven pendant that ties the space together.
But the real conversation-starter is the gallery wall: a curated selection of maps, heirlooms, and vintage ads—and nearly every piece tells a more enticing story than the next. The map of the Gulf Coast, for instance, was gifted to Mandy by a friend who produced “Whale Wars” and spent several seasons aboard ships in Antarctica, where the piece originates. The custom-framed knives were handed down to her boyfriend by his father, and the illustrations were done by friends in the film industry, who she met while working at DreamWorks Animation.
“Their drawings and paintings are so full of life, like the characters might walk off the page and into my house,” Mandi gushes. “I really wanted that element of fun, whimsy, and weirdness to spill over into the dining room and the rest of the space.”
This sense of irreverence trickled into the kitchen, where you’ll find a vintage pin the tail on the donkey above the wine fridge—a steal she found on eBay.
In the living room, her decor is equally as compelling. A visit to The Collective Mart, a 16,000-square-foot space in Venice Beach that sells vintage, antique, and modern pieces, led her to the eye-catching vintage artwork above the couch. And a search on Craigslist yielded one of her favorite finds: the black living room armchairs, which despite being in less than prime useable condition, she successfully salvaged.
“When I got to the seller’s place and sat in them, I almost fell through the seat cushion,” she recalls. “My upholsterer was able to salvage the original black leather upholstery and just re-build the cushion.”
In the back of the room, Mandy carved out a space that functions as her office. Above the desk, she hung architectural blueprints of one of the original Sears catalog kit homes—a nod to her and her boyfriend’s industries (he is an architect). She also made sure to surround the space with one of the hallmarks of her personal style: an abundance of greenery—from hanging plants to an upright snake plant.
In her bohemian-inspired bedroom, Mandy once again embraced her love of maps, selecting a large-scale global piece that complements the dark hues in the duvet. Punctuating the bed are two pillow covers from a Turkish woman who sews them from woven Kilims, alongside a throw that Mandy sewed herself, but not without a little help.
“It was absolutely awful,” she reveals.” My assistant, Hanie, used to be a professional seamstress so she instructed me on how I should do my seams. Four broken needles, a misaligned sewing machine and several haphazard stitch lines later, I nicely asked her to help me finish it”
A challenge, but a good story, in its own right.
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