Wall Street Journal: “Designing a Living Room That Really Pops”

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How artist Burton Morris reimagined his favorite room in his Los Angeles home

By ERIN GEIGER SMITH   |   July 19, 2016 12:16 p.m. ET   |   [Reprinted here with permission of wsj.com.]

 


IMAGE ABOVE: Artist Burton Morris in his Los Angeles living room, in front of one of his popcorn-box paintings. His bright, pop culture-inspired works regularly reimagine iconic images. PHOTO: EMILY BERL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

Pop artist Burton Morris displays two paintings he is particularly proud of in his Los Angeles living room. Similar ones have also appeared, via television, in most Americans’ homes at some point—his work hung on the walls on the fictional “Friends” coffee shop, Central Perk.

Mr. Morris, 52, has sold paintings to Tommy Hilfiger and Kanye West, painted a guitar with the Statue of Liberty for Barack Obama and worked with companies including Kellogg’s, Perrier and Ford to reimagine their branding as bright art pieces.

He and his wife, Sara, embarked on a home purchase and remodel in 2015, moving from Santa Monica, Calif., to a six-bedroom, 13-skylight, 1952 midcentury modern in the Cheviot Hills neighborhood on L.A.’s west side.

 

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Pop artist Burton Morris displays two paintings he is particularly proud of in his Los Angeles living room. Similar ones have also appeared, via television, in most Americans’ homes at some point—his work hung on the walls on the fictional “Friends” coffee shop, Central Perk. PHOTO: EMILY BERL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

The house’s living room spoke to him as soon as he opened the front door, Mr. Morris says. “I was looking for a home and also an area that, like this room,…lets your mind be really open.” The room, with its 10?-foot-high paneled ceilings, now painted a color called Eider White, had the potential to be a gallery-like setting where he could display his art, he says. “But it’s not stark and cold.”

He extended the wall on one side of the fireplace to allow paintings to hang on both sides. Mr. Morris’s prized 1968 Andy Warhol Campbell’s Soup can silk-screen print at first hung in the room, but he decided he wanted to bring balance by featuring two of his own works representative of iconic images he has focused on throughout his career.

To the right of the stone fireplace is a four-by-five-foot popcorn box on a red background. To the left, a three-by-three coffee cup, with a steam swirl extending above the top. “It’s funny mixing the pop art with the ’50s feel, but it all comes together nicely,” Mr. Morris says.

 

 

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A memorabilia space in Mr. Morris’s home displays references to his work, including a photograph from the set of the television show ‘Friends,’ which featured his art on the walls of its fictional coffee shop, Central Perk. PHOTO: EMILY BERL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

A large, gray, L-shaped couch is strategically placed in front of the fireplace to discourage his young daughters from playing in it, and a white shag rug was chosen both to warm up the space and provide a soft landing for them.

The remaining furniture in the room has a more adult feel, with Barcelona-style black tufted leather chairs and a daybed. “It’s a very peaceful and pleasant and simple room,” Mr. Morris says, a place to relax “and take things in.”

The room’s back wall is paneled with the same wood planks as the flooring. Windows to the outdoor patio extend to the arched ceiling.

In front of it is an inherited teak bookshelf. “My uncle was a huge music person,” Mr. Morris says, and “albums fit in those six panels.” They now house a mix of Mr. Morris’s favorite childhood comic books, as well as books on Beethoven, one by chef Daniel Boulud and an old Webster’s Dictionary.

 

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Mr. Morris considers Andy Warhol an inspiration for his own work. One of Mr. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup pieces is a prized possession. PHOTO: EMILY BERL FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL

 

A wall of glass doors leading to a patio, with windows above them, borders the light-filled kitchen. When the doors are open, it gives the room an indoor/outdoor feel, Mr. Morris says.

Though the room is generally free of clutter, often parked in the corner is a large red stroller for his daughter, Sunny, born earlier in July.

 

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