The only way I would leave the house I love, is to have a house created and built by the architect, Barbara Bestor. Architects turn a space into a feeling, and Bestor’s work always feels good. Her form fits the function, whether it’s a home, restaurant, office space, or a variation on these things like a music school (the new Silver Lake Conservatory, or a modern sublotted new development Blackbird in Echo Park.)
Bestor’s work is grounded but airy, minimal but bold, and it can be whimsical and blunt, but it always fits the enterprise.
Going on Bestor’s website is like giving myself five-minutes on a massage chair, it’s a mini-meditation of what life could be. While Facebook is notoriously a time suck for some people, and cogent adults lament the time wasted, cruising Barbara Bestor’s website is all that and more – it’s satisfying, inspirational, and just plain fun. Her homes are ubiquitous in Silver Lake, but her website confirms she’s all over, and she works in all genres. Even when Bestor wasn’t on my radar I liked the spaces she created, and had been racking them up with out even knowing it. Intelligentsia, and LOU Restaurant for starters.
LOU, although it’s now closed, was a wine bar with focus. Located in a terribly crusty and incredibly un-cool mini-mall on Vine, once you walked in you felt like you’d stumbled on a postage-stamp sized, red hot secret. A speak easy where wine met food, and every drop and morsel was meticulous and curated. With all that said, Lou Amdur has a new place called, LOU Wine Shop & Tastings, on Hillhurst and Franklin, also designed by Bestor. This is more bare bones, with wood floors, a ceiling color that conjures Bordeaux, and a cinder block wall that’s marked in large letters, “Natural and Unusual.” Two words which could describe Lou’s wine palate. It’s a perfect way to declare that things aren’t too serious here as far as wine shops go, but they are interesting.
As for Intelligentsia Coffee, if I could get any work done in coffee bars, which I can’t because staring at people is too much fun, I would live at Intelligentsia, because of the way it feels; the zingy Moroccan blue tiles, the sun soaked wall of vintage windows, and display shelves that wink in caffeine products. And of course the back counter, where you can people watch from across the pit, like a voyeur loosely veiled behind the the steaming, brewing, and swirling.
Not sure why but, over the course of the last few weeks, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing a steady stream of homes done by Bestor, and it’s been a blast. It’s felt like a serendipitous lunar line up on what my future could hold, a home by Bestor – I think. Hope.
She has a very clean, minimal, almost early 70s, Scandinavian style. The way she uses wood, usually light in color, and keeps it raw is very calming, and her use use of color is usually bold and framed. The way she creates storage is crafty. And she doesn’t make neurotic, sterile, still-life magazine rooms, but she does create a space that is pristine, edgy and hip.
My latest Barbara Bestor tour happened at a friend’s house. A couple who have great taste – of course. I would describe their style as interesting, simple, and discreet. They’re the kind of people who would take a glass Grunervetliner over a buttery Chardonnay, which tells me a lot. They have “art,” and they do things like serve salad as a last course, and read Julius Caesar when they can’t sleep. I mean. They’re the kind of people who have simple well made furniture, a hodge-podge that clicks together perfectly. (Not literally) Their home was built in 1941 and the lines are late deco, so it’s got the low heaviness and solidity, but it also has the austere lines and the clerestory breeze of a Mid-Century feel. Most of the house is saturated in sun, and it overlooks the city with a jetliner view. When they invited me to dinner, they’d done some remodeling.
As soon as I walked in I knew the work had been done by Bestor. She did a seamless upgrade, and in no way harmed the vintage appeal. She added quite a bit of square footage, and again nailed the form to fit the functions of this particular family. There were a few tell tale B.Bestor signs, like sliding doors, enlarged white bathroom tile, splashes of color, the circular knobs on kitchen drawers, and even more innovative and cool ways to carve out space. Let’s put it this way, as a realtor if I were asked to list this house – I’d be giddy. I’d yammer on about it to everyone, until we closed escrow. The Open House would (as always) be ‘A’ game; specific music, savvy food, all the minutiae memorized. Mostly, I’d be excited to see people walk in and experience the house itself, and what Bestor did with it.
So…. What am I trying to say? Explore for yourself. Barbara Bestor
This is a fan letter to Barbara Bestor. Someday I will downsize, but not until I find the perfect space and hand it over to you. Until that day, I’ll remain in my own home, probably as is, but there’s a place in my future where you will be creating a space for me.