British Columbia native Justus Parmar welcomed the made-in-Canada furniture in his new Los Angeles home — but nixed any reminders of “rainy Vancouver.
“I’m a visual guy. I wanted to brighten it,” he says of the hillside house that felt “a little bit older, with darker colours” when he bought it two years ago. The property is next door to the home of singer/songwriter Adam Levine and his family.
Now it dazzles, thanks to Hollywood interior designer Kari Whitman, who used warm tones, eye-catching artwork and her custom furnishings to transform the upscale residence overlooking Sunset Strip into a contemporary yet comfortable showplace.
“She’s fantastic; she did incredible work. She’s very, very creative,” says Parmar, an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who splits his time between Los Angeles and Vancouver, where his company’s head office is located.
“I just kinda know their vibe,” Whitman says of the 30-something businessman and his Toronto-born fiancée, Elisia Friedman.
Their Canadian roots forged an instant bond with Whitman.
“I love Canada. It’s humble, very ethical, very green,” says the self-described lifelong tree-hugger.
Her firm, Kari Whitman Interiors — whose celebrity clients include Jessica Alba, Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas — does a lot of business with Canadian companies. Edmonton-based Forge 53 brought many of her furniture designs to life for Parmar’s three-level, glass-walled home.
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One highlight is a dining table of tumbled travertine marble that was so heavy a crane was needed to install it. Anchored by an abstract-patterned carpet in shades of grey and illuminated by a spectacular metallic light fixture — both Whitman originals — it’s perfect for the dinner parties the couple enjoys hosting.
A multi-level coffee table with bronze tops and contrasting grey-blue ultrasuede sides is the “really cool” centrepiece of a special seating area for Parmar to watch soccer games with his friends.
Walls throughout the house are punctuated by a bold mix of artwork from artists including Andy Warhol, Montrealer Stikki Peaches and local street artist Alec Monopoly.
The collection is now worth at least $250,000 more than the $150,000 paid in auctions, according to Whitman.
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His revitalized L.A. retreat is one that “I would love to have as my own,” says Whitman, whose commissions range from $500,000 to $5 million.
“The view — oh, my God, it’s insane,” she says. “It’s an amazing, amazing piece of property facing west in a perfect position on the side of a hill. It’s got this energy that just feels right.”
Its central location above the glamorous Chateau Marmont hotel, combined with city and ocean vistas, was among the selling points for “view guy” Parmar.
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The site even has a history: its original 1953 house (since torn down) belonged to cultural icon James Dean, he says.
California, a two-hour flight from B.C., “is like (Toronto’s) Florida,” Parmar notes, adding he and Friedman love L.A. for its beaches, shopping, restaurants, entertainment, and business and commerce opportunities.
“Being from a small town, I think it’s a hoot,” laughs Parmar, who was born and raised in Duncan, a city of 5,000 on Vancouver Island.
Size: 5,700 square feet
Price of artwork: $150,000