Look inside this cheerful Silver Lake bungalow to see how to create joy on the cheap
Arden Myrin’s Silver Lake home may be small at 900 square feet, but it looms large with joy: a profusion of wallpaper with delicate patterns; funky bamboo pendants and patterned textiles.
“Cheap and cheerful,” she calls it.
It is a special house under normal circumstances, but after months of sheltering in place with husband Dan Martin and their four cats, Myrin appreciates the tiny bungalow more than ever.
“It’s nice to live in a happy space, especially when things are tough,” she says.
Many of us are sick of looking at our interiors as the pandemic stretches on with no end in sight, but Myrin’s home is the inspiration we need: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make a big difference, and recycling what you already have in new and different ways is one inexpensive way to start.
With Hollywood at a standstill, the comedian (“Insatiable,” “Shameless,” “Orange Is the New Black”), says she is accustomed to the ups and downs of being an actor.
“It’s why I don’t like to pay full price for anything,” she says of being out of work. “I’m a real scavenger… Especially now. People are stuck inside and worried about money.”
She and Martin purchased the Silver Lake property in 2018 and proceeded to remodel its two 900-square-foot houses — one in back (1925), which they rent out, and one in front (1927).
The interiors are bold and graphic and loaded with personality just like Myrin. She describes her aesthetic as “elevated bohemian chic” and cites Bloomsbury-inspired floral patterns and textiles and Edward Gorey as influences. “I wanted it to be magic and full of surprises,” she says.
Unexpected details include a purple and pink quilted wall in the master bedroom, ceilings and niches that are painted pink and lined with wallpaper, and a vibrant color palette — pinks, reds and blue — to add further drama. “I’ve never met a room that doesn’t look good in Farrow & Ball Hague Blue,” she says.
She is a fan of designer Kit Kemp and looks for budget inspiration at high-end, design-driven boutique hotels. When she saw an installation of colorful basket lamps at the Whitby Hotel in New York, she created a budget version using 14 Ikea rattan pendants. The backyard, outfitted with a lounge area and fire pit, was modeled after the Parker Palm Springs landscape designed by Judy Kameon.
“Arden does everything on a budget,” says Martin. “She’s not about spending a lot of money. She is very selective and resourceful.”
Indeed, many of the furnishings are inexpensive, like the antique sofa she bought for $100 and re-covered in block printed fabric she purchased at a one day sale in Santa Barbara. The blue jute living room rug is from Overstock; the kitchen is Ikea.
“I purchased the kitchen [cabinetry] during an Ikea sale,” she says. “I got 15% off because I used my Ikea Family card.” She used the savings to hire an electrician to install the pendant lamps in the dining room.
She splurges, she says, on hand-silk-screened wallpaper by Juju Papers and Grow House Grow. A pair of Banded Stripe Delaney Chairs from Anthropologie in the living room weren’t cheap at $1,148 apiece, so she waited until Mother’s Day and purchased them at a 20%-off sale. “I built the entire room around those chairs,” she says. “I’m a big believer that the eye needs a place to land. I like to pick and choose where it lands so it’s not crazy everywhere. “
“Arden has such great style and an uncanny gift for being able to put it all together,” says her longtime friend Lori Droste, whose Berkeley home she remodeled last year. “She started with two chairs that she knew my wife, Carrie, would love and went from there. We went on vacation and came home to a big reveal like you see on HGTV. The kids were over the moon. Arden transformed our house into a home.“
These days, Myrin is keeping herself busy by putting the finishing touches on her comedic memoir about growing up in Little Compton, R.I., “Little Miss Little Compton,” due out in September, helping her friends with their interior design projects and hosting her “Bachelor”-themed comedy podcast, “Will You Accept This Rose?” in the garage she converted into a soundproof studio.
Asked about “The Bachelor’s” first Black leading man, Myrin responded, “It is about time. To me a more diverse cast, crew and lead just makes it a more interesting and compelling show. I can’t wait to watch Matt James’s season.”
She’s coping, she says, the same way she did after her mother died last year, something she’s been thinking about lately.
“My mom was such a blast,” she says with a laugh. “I got on television because this woman showed me the world and taught me to go for it. The last thing she did before she died was order a pendant lamp. She was redecorating. That’s what cheered her up and got her through heartache.”
It’s a legacy that resonates with Myrin amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m trying to be extra kind to myself,” she says. “I’ve been such a hustler for so long. It has been interesting to have the peace of no ambition and not have to figure out what’s next. I don’t have to set the world on fire. I remind myself that I am not in control of this.”
Out of work and stuck at home, actress Arden Myrin offers 6 “cheap and cheerful” strategies on creating a joy-filled home:
1. Inexpensive finds
“Urban Outfitters has cute peel and stick wallpaper. Their designs are so fun, and they host a lot of sales. I love their bathroom shower curtains. World Market has great deals on pillows and rugs. Join their rewards program for further savings. I’ve purchased a lot of stuff from Wayfair which has free shipping. There are so many great artists on Etsy. You can purchase things that are specific to you and frame them in Ikea frames. And there’s always Target. I bought some really cute rattan furniture there.”
2. Salon walls
“Start with a small bathroom or accent wall. Measure your wall first to figure out how many frames you will need. Be sure to get some smaller frames that you can add to the mix. If you’re scared of gallery walls, pick frames in the same color. Pop in your own artwork, family photos or art book photos. It doesn’t need to be perfect. Start with a big picture and then fill in the gaps. Go on Etsy and get some fun vintage or embroidered things. Earthquake sticky tacks will help keep them in place.”
“Urban Outfitters has basket lights and lightbulb kits. You can hang them from a hook in the ceiling and let them fall at different levels. Hanging a plug-in bamboo pendant in front of a wall to liven up a corner is a fun thing to do that will cheer you up.”
“I love throw pillows and enjoy mixing different patterns. I have a patterned couch, but the walls are white and the ceiling is pale pink. That’s a good place for pattern. If you are too scared, you can line one wall with wallpaper or add a patterned blanket to the foot at the bed. If you mess it up, you can fix it later when we all have jobs again.”
“Peel and stick wallpaper will completely transform your space, and you don’t have to have a professional install it. Tempaper is great for renters. I installed it in my New York apartment, and it comes right off.”
6. Decorating with personal items:
“When I redecorated Lori’s house, she found two hats that she had won at summer camp that were really special to her. I framed them in shadow boxes and added them to a camping-themed salon wall. If you have small objects of sentiment that you don’t want to display on a bookshelf or the top of a dresser, put them in a shadow box or a cute little display shelf as a part of a salon wall.”