There are DIY wannabes—and then there’s jewelry and fashion designer Ambre Dahan, who purchased her dream five-bedroom home in Los Angeles, then designed and decorated the entire thing herself. As in, without a contractor. “I painted everything. I redid all the bathrooms. I redid the kitchen. Put gates outside. I did some of the garden. I painted the kitchen floors,” she says over coffee in New York City’s Bowery Hotel during Fashion Week. “But I loved it. I’m a designer, so for me, design is all the same.”
When she first bought the 1920s-era house in 2017, she was lured by its sprawling garden, giant pool, metal windows, and good vibes, but she also couldn’t resist the house’s backstory. The seller was screenwriter Barbara Turner, who raised her two daughters there (one of them is actress Jennifer Jason Leigh); Dahan would be moving in with her own two daughters. (It’s also where Jason Leigh’s ex-husband, Noah Baumbach, shot the film Greenberg.)
But before the family could relocate from Malibu, Dahan had to make her changes—in just six months. So she did her homework, calling interior designer friends to ask about paint finishes (instead of removing the mismatched wood floors in the kitchen, she hired artist Nicolas Valle to paint them in a black-and-white checkerboard pattern) and sanding techniques. (That massive staircase and wood-paneled library? All hand-sanded.) Though she outsourced where she could, Dahan also took the reins in choosing marble for her bathrooms and kitchen from a local marble yard, and added a second doorway in the dining room.
When it came to choosing furniture, she didn’t buy all new pieces. Instead, she found ways to make what she loved in her old home work in the new space, a testament to her creativity and good taste. “My style is very eclectic, and I like mixing everything,” she says. “I think that’s why all the furniture works in this house. When you love something, you just find a way. You rearrange, you reupholster, and you just play with it to give it another life.”
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the living room, where a de Sede leather sofa snakes through the middle of the space. When she and her ex-husband, Joe Dahan, founder of Joe’s Jeans, bought it for their house, it was brown, so they dyed it black. Now, it’s faded from dogs, children, and general wear, but Dahan wouldn’t have it any other way. In her home and in her own designs, Dahan just knows what works, and she carries her creative instincts and warm spirit over into her massive house parties, some of which have drawn crowds of 200 people and have been known to last until 9 a.m. (Miraculously, there was not a peep from the neighbors, she says with a laugh.)
“Looking back, I wish I’d gone to architecture school,” she says. “I would have loved that, because now I’m more interested in interior design than anything else.” In fact, this month she’ll open a store for SPRWMN, her leather-led fashion label, and she’ll sell Ambre Victoria Jewelry, her collection of stackable bangles, there too. It’s little surprise she’s designing the space—from the chandeliers to the window displays—all by herself.
An Eclectic Home With “Good Vibes” and Personality to Spare
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest