Rebecca Lehrer, the co-founder of The Mash-Up Americans, a website and podcast about diversity, lives with her husband Neil, and their dog Gunther, in Los Angeles. Their colorful home is a mash up of cultures itself, full of heirlooms from her Jewish El Salvadoran family and treasures they’ve collected from while traveling. It also happens to be the perfect space to host a BBQ. Here’s a peek inside…
LIVING ROOM (LEFT SIDE):
On blessing our home: When moved into our new home two years ago, many of our friends offered up their cultural rituals to make sure everything was set for happiness and prosperity. Each advice-giver assumed their new-home ritual was a given. “Of course, you will boil milk,” said our Hindu friends. “You got new mops and brooms, right?” asked our friends who know feng shui principles. We also abided Jewish tradition and brought bread and salt with us, we burned sage and, of course, we had a housewarming party.
On waiting to change things: When we moved in, I wanted to change so many things, but my dad, who’s an architect, gave us some advice. If we live in the house for a while before making any major decisions, we might be surprised how we actually use the space. You’ll know what really matters to you, and he was completely right.
On family furniture: The circular coffee tables from the 1970s were in my parents’ house growing up. I like the graceful shape — it has obviously stood the test of time. A few years ago, my brother, who is an artist, convinced our parents to let him dip them in copper. They ended up not liking it, so I inherited them! I love having something that has been passed down.
On house drinks: We love entertaining, so we turned the bookshelf in the living room into a bar. We recently went to Louisville, Kentucky, and got really into bourbon. Lately, our drink of choice has been a Boulevardier — a mix of bourbon, sweet vermouth and Campari. It’s delicious. A mint julip never hurt anyone either.
LIVING ROOM (RIGHT SIDE):
On pastel walls: Before this, we were living in a dark old craftsman. So walking into this bright space for the first time felt like we had a whole life ahead of us — it had such a good energy. We wanted to keep it as light as possible, so my dad suggested painting the walls pastel colors. I never thought I’d be a pastel person, but we went for it and the house is still airy, but very calming at the same time. We have walls that are lavender, pale green, grayish blue and very light orange — and they all change color depending on the time of the day.
On IKEA: We always assumed that we’d grow out of our things from IKEA, but we got this red bookshelf ten years ago and we still love it. It has moved with us four times! It’s functional and beautiful, we’ll never get rid of it.
On collecting while traveling: We’ve been lucky enough to find amazing pieces while traveling over the years. The pillows in our living room are from our honeymoon in Istanbul; our woven chairs are from a young designer we met in El Salvador; the colorful rug is from Jerusalem, where my grandmother and grandfather lived for 30 years before moving to El Salvador.
Orange kettle: Le Creuset.
On cooking together: My husband and I cook together multiple times a week, it’s our main hobby. He is more of the gourmet — I’ve learned a lot from him. Now I know the importance of good knives and fish sauce! For every birthday, we always get each other cookbooks. One of our favorites is Vietnamese Home Cooking by Charles Phan, and we also try recipes from Bon Appétit.
Vase: Siemon & Salazar.
On weeknight dinners: My husband travels for work a lot during the week, so when he’s out of town I will make a really basic meal. My go-to is cabbage salad with feta. I just chop up a purple cabbage and mix it with cheese, scallions and red wine vinegar. I could eat an entire cabbage in one sitting if I had to.
On copper: We have copper accents throughout the house — it’s definitely an important theme. My brother made our dining room table and the bench that goes with it and dipped them both in copper. The bench is particularly great because we can fit more people if we want to have a dinner party. Neil and I eat at the dining room every night when we’re both here.
On a welcoming home: We got married in Los Angeles in 2012. We decided to do a Ketubah (a Jewish marriage contract), and promised each other that we would always have the doors of our house open for our friends and family to eat delicious, healthy food; that there would always be a bed available in our home for anyone who needs one. This is something that is very important to my husband and me, and a commitment that we’ve made to each other.
On working from home: My home office looks out over the lemon tree in our backyard. I like having a separate space instead of just working in the kitchen or bedroom, so I’m not confusing my work space with my life space. It’s also a delight to work at home with my dog. He likes to hang out here with me, and sometimes my mom’s dog, Lola, comes over, too. I work at the Neuehouse the other days. When you’re entrepreneur, it’s helpful to be able to change hats.
Vase: Tortoise General Store.
On nightly rituals: Ever since I was little, I haven’t been able to fall asleep without reading. It can be any kind of book, and sometimes it’s only for a minute, but I need to read something. I’m currently reading the The Sympathizer — it won the Pulitzer and the author, Viet Thanh Nguyen, is a Vietnamese American. I also have to wash my feet every night before I go to bed. I think it’s from living in New York for over ten years and walking around all the time. I could just never go to bed with dirty feet and even though I’m back in L.A., I wash them with soap, cold water and a cheap scrubby thing every night.
On entertaining: We have about eight to fifteen people over at least once a week for an outside dinner party. It’s all pretty spontaneous — my husband and I will just wake and and say, “Do we want to have people over?” We do a lot of carnitas, Momofuku’s Bo Ssam, and pork buns. This summer, we’ve been grilling steak rubbed with coffee grounds and cumin.
On gardening: My mom is a landscape architect. Almost every Saturday she shows up with a bunch of new plants and basically uses our garden as a place to experiment. I’m pretty lucky! She’s into sustainable design and since California is in the middle of a drought, she has become excellent at finding drought-resistant plants. She just told me that she’s going to make us a cactus garden.
On shabbat dinners: Fridays are for family. My dad and I both grew up in Los Feliz, which is about a mile and a half from where I live now. My grandma still lives there, and most of our family lives in the surrounding area. She has 11 grandkids and nine of us are back in L.A., so every Friday some combination of us gets together at one of our houses for a very non-traditional Shabbat dinner. We’ll host it in our backyard about once a month. We’ll grill salmon and make a bunch of salads; sometimes we’ll order from Carousel, this amazing Armenian restaurant in Hollywood.
On hummingbirds: My husband’s mother, who passed away, really loved hummingbirds. So, my mother planted a bunch of plants in our backyard that attract hummingbirds. Now there are always a few flying around our garden and it makes us feel the love from both our moms.
Thank you so much, Rebecca!