Something clicked when Sally Breer and Jake Rodehuth-Harrison founded their interior firm ETC.etera in 2016. An interior designer and a stylist/creative director, respectively, they combined their powers to establish a thriving design domain that has taken the Los Angeles design scene by storm. Embracing hallmarks of both modern and old world Hollywood Hills style, the pair has fast established themselves with projects ranging from Silver Lake to Venice Beach. Surveying their work, it comes as no surprise that Breer and Rodehuth-Harrison aim to “please the eye as well as to the soul.”
As this design duo gears up for their next big project—throwing down roots in yet another L.A. enclave: Filipinotown, where they’ll be opening a showroom of in-house-designed furniture and curated vintage treasures—we were able to chat more with Breer and Rodehuth-Harrison about ETC.etera and the items they selected for their DECASO favorites collection. Here, the duo fill us in on some of their best design tricks, their biggest design risks (one involving a 16-foot acrylic rainbow), and the L.A. hotel they recommend to visiting friends (hint: they designed it).
Favorite way to work a bit of vintage into a space?
SB: Vintage lighting is the easiest way to work vintage into a space because it’s the jewelry of the room so a little funk or patina goes a long way.
JRH: Artwork and lighting are two of my favorites. I also love vintage design and fashion books, they add an instant patina to a room
Favorite way to add drama to a room?
SB: I think the most elegant way to add drama is by making a primary focal point in the room and easiest to do that by playing with scale一like one giant light fixture, hung super low over a table.
JRH: Playing with scale is always a great way to add drama to any room; a light fixture that might feel a bit too big or a huge sectional sofa instead of lots of smaller seating.
Favorite way to mix high and low?
SB: Each room should have a focal point, decide what that is and focus your energy (and money) on that, let the other pieces be simple /non-statement pieces.
JRH: I’m not gonna lie, I’ve been known to spray paint things from IKEA matte black and VOILA, it’s an instant game changer.
Favorite place to splurge and favorite place to dial it back?
SB: Textiles and lighting are worth investing in because you can really feel the difference when these guys are mass produced or cheaply made. Whereas things like metal side tables are easier to come by on the cheap and are easier to camouflage in a room.
JRH: I think splurging on stone surfaces is always a good idea. You can really see a difference when you upgrade a Calcutta or other weird stone. I also dial it back on dinnerware/glassware. Simple utilitarian pieces from restaurant supply stores are always timeless and practical. And no tears when something gets broken at a dinner party!
Favorite decorating trick?
SB: Drapery一it makes a HUGE impact in a room. So many rooms would be better if the rod was hung a little closer to the ceiling, or a little further outside of the windows.
JRH: Going monochromatic with color is a great way to create a moody space. Keeping the walls, draperies, furniture, etc all one color is VERY effective when executed correctly.
Favorite design risk you’ve ever taken?
SB: I think if we’re doing our job well, all of our design decisions should be risks.
JRH: We designed the set for Katy Perry’s live stream, Witness World Wide, which was all one huge risk. Conversation pits, a geodesic mediation dome, 16 foot tall acrylic rainbows, it was such a funhouse and we loved every bit of it. Sadly, we never had it photographed!
Favorite project in your portfolio (and why you love it)?
SB: Tough question一Hotel Covell was my first real creative baby but Cafe Birdie is a close second because it too was a labor of love and was the first project Jake and I worked together on. The space has some magical collaborative ideas in it.
JRH: My favorite hasn’t been published yet! Of the projects on our website, I really love Cafe Birdie. It was the first space Sally and I designed officially as ETC.etera and there’s a lot of good memories in all of the details. It felt like a familiar haunt even before it opened.
Favorite paint color?
SB: I’d be lying if I said anything different一 Swiss Coffee by Benjamin Moore. I’m a real big fan of warm whites and beiges.
JRH: I’ll always love Joshua Tree by Portola Paints (Lost Highway by them is a close second!)
Favorite pattern (and how you love to use it)?
SB: I have a funny relationship with pattern一I tend to only like patterns when they feel organic and have a hand touch. I’ve actually been accused of not using enough pattern so for one of our upcoming hospitality projects I wanted to challenge myself and i’m using almost exclusively pattern for our upholstery.
JRH: Anything cubist. Pierre Frey’s Kubus has been a favorite for years, but I have yet to get it into a project!
Favorite color combo?
SB: For the last year I’ve been circling around robins egg blue and deep forest green which is funny because typically I gravitate toward warmer colors.
JRH: I’m really into ochre and bright Yves Klein-ish blue
Favorite piece of art you own?
SB: My favorite piece is actually by my mom. It’s a giant textural black gesso painted canvas with a white lightning bolt running through it. She made it when she met my dad, because she said that was how he made her feel. It’s been an important reminder for me一to aspire to feel that way all things in my life.
JRH: I have a very campy (and very gay) latch hook rug/wall hanging made by my friend and artist Robert Smith.
Most unusual piece you’ve ever sourced for a project?
SB: I bought a life sized wood carved alligator from Round Top Antique Fair in Texas for a residential project in NYC一it was pretty spectacular.
JRH: The Smoking Nun painting we put in our Magic Castle project was pretty weird and wonderful.
Tell us more about your experience with DECASO!
SB: You’ve basically done our work! It’s got such an incredible range of styles and eras in one place. And the Hold Request button, it’s life changing.
JRH: The simple design of the site feels so fresh and the filtering options make sourcing that much easier. We are working on an incredible 1983 house in Los Angeles that we are using DECASO a lot for sourcing.
Favorite item on DECASO right now?
SB: Have to say this bronzed, life size crocodile!
JRH: This is a tough one! How’s my top 3? I love these 70’s Italian table lamps, Pillola, and this AVL Skull workstation.
Favorite travel destination?
SB: Paris because it’s the most magical city in the world and I also spent a lot of time there as a kid so it’s very nostalgic for me
JRH: Provincetown, Massachusetts
Favorite hotel to check in to?
SB: It’s got to be the Firehouse Hotel, in the Arts District
JRH: I really love the Ace in Palm Springs, it feels elegantly simple but still has all the amenities I could want or need (hello room service chilaquiles!)
Favorite way to treat yourself?
SB: Dunkin’ Donuts frozen coffee (have you had one?)
JRH: Coffee and a ham and cheese croissant in bed with a stack of design magazines. Simple pleasures, right?
Favorite entertaining essential?
SB: Good mood lighting.
JRH: A rousing game of Celebrity. It can be played anywhere and is such a great way to break the ice, especially if you’re mixing old and new friends.
SB: Very tough一I have an affinity for 50’s modern because it was the group of artists my pop was part of and that I was raised around but for contemporary I think Lily Stockman is making really beautiful work. Her exploration with scale and color is very inspiring to me
JRH: Sol LeWitt is high up there. I even have a small tattoo of one of his pieces.
Favorite thing to collect?
JRH: Currently, it’s artificial bananas; ceramic, felt, glass.
YOUR CITY: LOS ANGELES
Favorite hotel to recommend to visiting friends?
Both: Hotel Covell (maybe we’re a little biased)
Feature photo by Bethany Nauert