Costume designer Julie Vogel welcomes us into her South Pasadena pad
When Julie Vogel asks you over to tea and cookies at her South Pasadena, CA, cottage, the last thing you can focus on are the snacks – it’s all about the eye candy.
Everywhere you look there’s another beautiful, cool, or eclectic object adorning the walls, counters, or ceiling, just waiting for its story to be told.
Nestled behind a 1920s bungalow, a low gate opens to a yard filled with tall and wide plants, flowers, and trees, and the squawking of wild parrots in flight. Here you’ll find Julie’s 1,500 square foot wooden cabin built in the 1940s,
painted three shades of green, and accented by an orange door with a window that artfully frames Leroy, Julie’s tail-waging Golden Retriever.
Professionally, Julie has been producing costumes for celebrities, music videos, independent films, and television commercials (including the popular and oft-parodied Dos Equis “Most Interesting Man In The World” spots) for 28 years. Clearly, creativity is key to her job; it’s also integral to her living space.
Julie’s love of fabric, sense of style, and craftiness shines brightly in her home, which was dubbed the Honeymoon Cottage by the original owners. She purchased the house because the unpainted open beams, pitched roof, and large living room reminded her of a place you might find in the resort town of Mammoth Lakes, CA, which felt right, considering Julie is a passionate skier, hiker, and alpinist.
Moving into the Honeymoon Cottage 18 years ago, Julie furnished each room as if she was creating a three-dimensional collage, without really being conscious of it at the time. But since collage is one of Julie’s favorite crafting pastimes, this approach to decorating makes sense.
For each room’s décor, Julie starts with an idea of something she’s seen, like the Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City, then she picks a piece of art as the anchor for the room and chooses the paint for the walls and ceiling.
The living room is a mosaic of vintage furniture from Mexico and the United States artfully upholstered in old Ralli quilts and Suzani fabric. Handmade rugs from all over the world are carefully placed, with each one overlapping parts of another until the entire floor is covered.
Her love of handcrafted items that she’s found, purchased, or made herself is at once apparent
– the room is filled with hundreds of pieces she has acquired throughout her life. Some she discovered, like the deer head she pulled out of a dumpster in NewYork City. Others she has obtained directly from individual artists, be it a personal friend of hers who alters old photos of children praying with fangs and horns, or a prominent painter like Richard T. Colman. Oh, and don’t forget to look up and see the droplights Julie made out of old birdcages!
When asked which piece in her living room is the most valuable or most prestigious, Julie equivocates: “Three paintings by Richard T. Colman and/or two paintings by Marcel Dzama. And there is a Kiki Smith drawing. I have a Jim Shaw too. And tons of Kelly Mulloy and Liz Young.” Much like how a mother would respond when asked which of her kids is the best, Julie does not play favorites, which is probably why all her treasures are on display, shining brightly among so many amazing attractions.
Some of Julie’s rooms have names as well as themes. For instance, her bathroom is called “the Virgin of Guadalupe room,” without a single virgin in sight. However, it instantly becomes clear why it’s named for that religious icon, given the preponderance of very feminine and empowering images laced with Mexican nuances.
The colors and types of items Julie uses in a room set the mood and pace of the environment. The kitchen is bright and considered “the green room” due to its color, although it’s the pop from the few blue pieces scattered throughout the space that wakes you up while drinking your first cup of coffee in the morning.
Throughout the house you can also see how deftly Julie toys with scale and the spatial connections between her décor and surface
areas. An example is in her bedroom, where Martin Whist’s Cloud Painting hangs over her bed. Positioning the large piece on a wall with limited space, directly over the bed, where it has to be hung low, suggests a headboard, which instantly evokes a sense of restfulness.
The large bedroom is cozy and relaxing, thanks in part to the skillful use of light blue paint on the walls. The color contrasts nicely with the rustic wood beams and peaked ceiling, which are dotted ever so delicately with several Chinatown lanterns. The room’s art pieces and their clever placement showcase Julie’s gift for layering colors, textures, and the unexpected, while telegraphing the message that you are where Julie goes to unwind from a long day on the set or in the mountains.
Julie has a talent for bringing quite a bit of seemingly unrelated material into every room without making it feel cluttered, claustrophobic, or messy. All of the rooms are masterfully edited with her uncanny ability to make each item in her house the star of the show, creating very inviting comfortable spaces for lounging, entertaining, working, and of course a nice cup of tea.
In this wooden house, behind the tall and wide garden flowers and plants, each room is its own living art piece in a series, creating one body of work Julie calls home.
01 In a corner of the kitchen a vintage chart is surrounded by an assortment of items bright and cheery.
02 Vintage chairs upholstered in Ralli quilts and Suzani fabric flank the original fireplace.
01 Vintage heartshaped pincushions found at various estate sales over the years frame the hallway door.
02 The Virgin of Guadalupe room is adorned with an eclectic mix of handmade and found art and decor with feminine and Mexican accents.
01 Chinatown lanterns from NYC placed at the apex of the peaked ceiling are the bedroom’s light fixtures. 02 Leroy lounges in the hot pink hallway.