How one jewelry designer found a hidden gem in historic Hancock Park and polished it to perfection
Jeet Sohal’s Bare Collection jewelry is a study in simplicity: Her understated necklaces, rings, earrings and bracelets, which count Beyoncé and Anne Hathaway as ardent admirers, offer a quiet reprieve from eye-blinding bling. Enter Sohal’s home, however, and one thing becomes immediately apparent: Less is definitely not more inside this historic Hancock Park house, where art and furnishings in a profusion of eras and materials keep lively company in the 6,000-square-foot compound.
“I think I’m a minimalist without possessions, but the truth is, I cannot go past an antique store without going in,” says Sohal, sitting at her dining room table, where brass Italian midcentury chairs converse with a pair of antique Thonet chairs, a carved African ceremonial seat and vintage, hand-painted Stakmore folding spare chairs. The walls behind her feature intricate wood paneling and hand-painted, pressed-leather relief work. Not exactly the stuff of a Spartan sanctuary.
Call it a case of contrasting aesthetics. In her home studio, located in a converted laundry room behind the house, she crafts 14-karat and 18-karat gold jewelry featuring precious and semiprecious stones, which she sells at the likes of Des Kohan and Saks Fifth Avenue. Built by designer-contractor Tracy McCormick, the space’s exposed brick, unfinished wood and concrete floors make for an almost entirely blank canvas upon which Sohal can create.
Enter the main house, however, and the environment explodes with color, shapes and textures. In the living room, verdigris green walls are adorned with gilded ornamentation and layered with vintage and contemporary art; brocaded silk draperies festoon windows; and a pile of oversized pillows from Jaipur, India, are stacked in front of the fireplace. One of the room’s few neutral pieces—a curved, gray wood-and-wool tweed sofa created by Danish designer Arne Jacobsen—will soon be upholstered in bejeweled Indian textiles made from wedding saris. “I am inspired by craftsmanship,” says Sohal.
Which may explain why she and her husband, investor Eric Andersen, purchased the property for themselves and their three sons in the first place. Known as Windsor Estate, the Mediterranean Revival home is built on land originally owned by the Janss family (credited with developing UCLA, Westwood Village, Yorba Linda and more). Built exactly 100 years ago, it stands as a stunningly maintained testament to architectural skill. Previous owners of the property include silent film actress Dolores Costello (grandmother to Drew Barrymore).
Yet beautiful bones and a storied pedigree weren’t the property’s only selling points. There was also its location, with Sohal’s parents, brother and sister in various homes, all just a few blocks away. “This is where I grew up,” says Sohal, who went to nearby Marlborough School in Los Angeles and later attended Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., where she earned a degree in political science.
After purchasing the home five years ago, the couple gradually filled it with furniture and art, mixing antique, vintage and contemporary pieces with a fortuitous emphasis on midcentury Italian. “I like furniture that looks like sculpture, but it has to be functional. With three boys, I can’t buy anything that’s too precious,” she says. Case in point: the sunroom’s Marco Zanuso chairs, which the children—Kieran, 9, Simran, 7, and Taran, 5—regularly position in full recliner mode, the better to lie back with a book. “[Those chairs] are next for reupholstery,” says Sohal.
The balancing act of honoring the home’s provenance, while updating it to function as a modern retreat in which to entertain and raise a family, was particularly important for the outdoor areas. The couple enlisted landscape architect Julia Schmidt to transform a semicircular driveway into a kids’ play space and edible garden by enclosing part of the property with a wall made to match the original facade. “That mindfulness in anything we change is really important in this house,” says Sohal. “For a lot of home projects, I take a normal to-do list and make it about a thousand times longer.”
When it came to the question of repairing and replacing the original stripping of some of the windows, Sohal kept the project in-house and headed straight to her own studio. “The weather stripping in this house is copper and brass strips. Since I am a jeweler and a maker, I was able to do that myself,” she says. “It’s fair to say I’ve never met a glittery surface that I didn’t love.”
Photography by SAM FROST.
Written by ALEXANDRIA ABRAMIAN.