Design

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Photographer and rug dealer Mikael Kennedy and musician Melaena Cadiz live with their daughter Mila Rose in a beauty of a house nestled on a hill in Glassell Park. Their home serves as a succulent garden, rug collection and gathering place, and if you swing by there’s a very good chance there’ll be music playing. Here’s a peek inside…

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

What was it like searching for a home?
Mikael: I came from New York to L.A. for two weeks to house hunt. As soon as I saw the garden, I told the real estate agent that we’d take it before even seeing the house.
Melaena: Mikael sent me photos and I couldn’t believe how perfect it was. I was six months pregnant and could already imagine our daughter taking her first steps in the living room.

LIVING ROOM
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Rug: antique from King Kennedy Rugs. 
Sofa: Innovation. Coffee table: similar. Leather armchair: vintage. Floor lamp: BBDW. TV stand and bookshelves: handmade by Mikael. Floor cushions: Made by Mikael, who cut and stuffed an old quilt with scrap fabric.

Did you make any changes to the place?
Mikael: Our landlord told us that everyone else had all these things they wanted her to change. I told her that the house was perfect the way it was.
Malaena: When we moved in, the floors were dark green, so we painted them white. I also really love the white beams on the ceiling. It feels like a big whale belly.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Painting: Hannah Secord Wade. Shelves and window covering: handmade.

Mikael, how did you get into the rug business?
Mikael: I started collecting rugs five years ago; I was obsessed with them. I would post pictures online and people would ask me to get them rugs, too, so it exploded into a business — King Kennedy Rugs. The name came from my friend who was making fun of me like I was a mattress salesman, like the king of rugs.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Tables: vintage. Chair: BDDW. Rug: antique from King Kennedy Rugs. Floor cushions: Made by Mikael.

What’s your music writing process like, Melaena?
Melaena: I love this music nook, but I kind of have to hide to get anything done. I’ll grab a guitar and write all over the garden. I get so much inspiration from books and poetry, like Bright Dead Things, Mrs. Dalloway and Invisible Cities.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Rock salt lamp: similar.

How did this record collection begin?
Mikael: I was helping my mom move years ago and found her old records in the basement — including every Dylan record, every Joni Mitchell record, every Neil Young record. She hadn’t even had a record player in 20 years. I told her I was taking them and she could have them back when she gets a record player!

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

How did you make this place your own?
Mikael: The longer you’re in a house, the more you understand it. I joke that I want to get into interior design, but I would need to live in each place for a year. I built all our bookshelves to fit the space. These wooden boards have actually been in four different places we’ve lived; I just take them apart and cut them to fit.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Do you have family rituals?
Melaena: I remember my mom making simple activities feel special, like picnic dinners on the living room floor. With Mila, at the end of each day, we walk around and say goodnight to everything. And when it’s nice out, we give her a bath outside while the sun sets. Those moments always make me grateful for this time we have — it’s so fleeting.

KITCHEN
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

What do you love about the kitchen?
Melaena: It was always my dream to have a kitchen that opened into the living room. The cabinets are wonky and not everything closes properly, but there’s a real charm.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Can you tell us about the art over the window?
Mikael: The piece of stained glass is from our friend’s parents. I was at their house in Ohio once and I commented on it, and a few weeks later it showed up in the mail!

NURSERY
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Crib: Ikea. Dresser: IKEA. Chair: Snowpeak. Crates: IKEA. Rug on floor: Kantara. Rug on wall: antique from King Kennedy Rugs.

How do you decorate with rugs?
Mikael: To me, rugs feel like paintings. Occasionally I hang them on the walls to highlight the design. We’re constantly rotating rugs around the house; it’s such an easy way to refresh a space.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

What’s Mila’s favorite doll?
Melaena: She likes this creepy one that was mine as a little girl. I don’t get it — the doll isn’t cuddly at all, her head is really hard and her hands are pointy and kind of dangerous.

What about her go-to toy?
Mikael: The remote control. Any remote control.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Can you tell us about this mobile?
Melaena: We used to have friends over for craft nights. Mikael made a whole series where he sewed a circle, stuffed it and then improvised it into something. He made some weird stuff, like an oversized deer tick, but the jellyfish was the best. We made a bunch and turned them into a mobile before Mila was born.

MASTER BEDROOM
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Bedding: Parachute.

How did you guys first meet?
Mikael: We met at a bar on the Lower East Side — I threw a party by just telling everyone I knew to come by and Melaena showed up with an old friend of mine. My roommate told me that she looked like trouble, that she’d break my heart. Melaena has her own version of this story — that I had a gold tooth (true) and was wearing a burlap suit (untrue) and it took six months until she was willing to date me.
Melaena: He kept showing up at my work with smoothies and healthy snacks. I decided to give him a chance.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

What’s the most important thing about a bedroom to you guys?
Melaena: I love when a bedroom is super minimal. Ours is still a work in progress.
Mikael: And it has to have light. I’ve slept in closets before — literally — so I really need windows and air.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Dresser: Ikea.

Do you have any furniture shopping tips?
Mikael: My friend Molly is an interior designer and told us a little secret for finding great dressers: IKEA. I’m serious — just don’t put the knobs on them and they look great.

GARDEN
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

You basically have an outdoor living room.
Mikael: When we moved in, there was debris everywhere — lots of stumps and broken furniture. I spent the first year cleaning it up. Now, I work under the theme “West Coast Grey Gardens” — and only cut things back when they get to be a problem. There’s lots of carving tunnels through things.
Melaena: Most days we have all the doors open, so there’s no real delineation between indoors and outdoors. Birds fly in and we have to guide them back out. We had a baby possum wander in one day.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

What do you love about your garden?
Melaena: When we first moved here we only knew a few people, but our garden suddenly became a gathering place.
Mikael: We’d invite a friend or two, and they’d bring more friends. Musicians on tour would stay in our backyard tent for a few days; it was like a little commune.
Melaena: As a baby, Mila would be passed around between friends.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Outdoor furniture: handmade. Rugs: King Kennedy Rugs.

Do you have any entertaining tips?
Mikael: Fire pits bring everyone together; they build community.
Melaena: There’s never an awkward silence when you have a fire. Everyone just watches the flames until the next part of the conversation starts.

Where did you find your outdoor furniture?
Melaena: I love that Mikael will never just order patio furniture. The daybed is actually two reclining chairs he found rotting on the property. He nailed them together and sided them with scrap wood, so you can’t tell. You definitely need your tetanus shot before visiting.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Do you see any larger wildlife?
Mikael: When we first moved in, I made the “Beware of Coyotes” sign from some scrap wood because we had a cat and had seen some coyotes on the property. We had to keep the gate shut. But, also, it was just a funny sign because there’s no way that a chicken wire fence was going to stop a coyote.

GARDEN GUEST TENT
A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Tent: Shelter Co. Rugs: King Kennedy Rugs.

What is this incredible tent situation?
Mikael: A friend of mine gave us this Shelter Co tent. It lasted through the crazy wet winter and didn’t leak at all.
Melaena: We buried an extension cord out to the tent, so our guests can have power and light.

A Breezy House in L.A. With an Epic Garden

Is there anything you wish were different about the house?
Mikael: That we owned it.

Thank you so much, Mikael and Melaena!

P.S. More home tours, including a woodsy cottage in New Hampshire and a colorful Brooklyn apartment.

(Photos by Nicki Sebastian for Cup of Jo.)

  1. Maggie M says...

    Just in case this couple is reading the comments, you guys shouldn’t have your bed right under the windows because of earthquakes. It’s one of those things you wouldn’t necessarily know when you first move to Cali.

  2. Kel says...

    This home is definitely full of great vibes, but I would also love to see a switched-up, non all-white-walls house tour. It feels like the lush and luxurious styling is getting stronger, with moody dark walls and velvet and and entire walls crammed with old messy books (not rainbowized), but I rarely get to see home tours with this style. Jersey Ice Cream Co. does a cleaner, brighter version that still feels really old and happy-moody. How amazing would it be to have a home tour of their work?

  3. I feel like this was the first home featured that everything seemed real. A “just in the neighborhood so I popped in” kind of visit where everything seemed welcoming and totally unpretentious. Totally appreciated the rubber gloves hanging by the clothespin at the kitchen window. In practically every other home tour post, it looked like the kitchen never had a dirty dish in its presence. This couple rocks…..I want to be friends with them….and have their baby passed to me at a party!

  4. So creative and cozy! Thanks for sharing your home with us : )

  5. Megan says...

    Wow, such an incredibly beautiful and inspiring home! I’m curious as I also live in the desert, were they able to add the rug directly on to the ground or is there some kind of gravel situation going on?

  6. Lovely home

  7. One of the things I have really come to appreciate about this website and its creators is the fact you always seem to be asking the question “who else can I include, who else is there?”. Whether it’s colours of skin, backgrounds, family lives, sexual orientation, economic status (to an extent here) religious belief etc. Keep asking the question! It’s wonderful and necessary and keeps your content fresh, relevant and thought provoking.

  8. Kim says...

    Am I the only one who read that as ‘drug dealer’ on first glance?

    • NMN says...

      Nope. I totally did :)

  9. Brigette says...

    Love that you featured family that rents! I feel like so many people in this generation can’t afford to buy but still really work to make a rental their own. As always it’s great that you share the many different ways we live.

  10. Emma says...

    I would love to know who Lisa Przystup is!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      haha, good question! she’s a writer who pitched this house to us! she’s friends with the couple, and we ended up shooting the house and hiring her to do the interview. we also collaborated on a house tour with the writer, alexis cheung, too: https://cupofjo.com/2017/01/fort-greene-apartment-tour/

      thank you! xoxo

  11. Jac says...

    Hey! Most people on house tours use some thrifted and handed down stuff (BEST), but can you feature some people that focus on sustainability? And tiny houses? And minimalists? hertinyhome on Instagram is a good one! and 2_little_indians is good for zero waste!

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      Yes! We actually have one coming up in late summer/early fall, Jac! I’m really excited to share with you :)

    • Jac says...

      Woot woot. Thank you! I can’t wait! <3

    • Kata says...

      I would love to see a nuanced conversation on the Tiny House movement – as there are both advantages and disadvantages to discuss.

  12. Kay says...

    Ooooh I love this SO MUCH

  13. Loved that you posted a rental! Living rental places is certainly my reality for a good long while, so I love any inspiration I can get for ways that I can make them feel like home.

  14. Beth says...

    This home is beautiful but I’m starting to feel like a lot of these house tours look alike…the styles are all very similar and it’s a little uninspiring. I’d be very interested in seeing more decorating styles represented through this series!

  15. Your rug collection and decor is so amazing.
    I like the coloured on in one of the bedrooms. I didn’t actually know that people can collect rugs.

  16. Such a cool, bohemian space – I love it! Proof that you can make any space unique to you with a little bit of personality and imagination.

  17. Lauren says...

    Will second others when I say thanks for showing a “real” house. While higher-end design is certainly aspirational, a house like this is relatable! (At least for those of us who can’t quite shop at DWR yet :)) There is so much perfect on the internet these days that the imperfect is refreshing.

  18. Anne Doherty says...

    King Kennedy — ever thought of producing the round floor cushions? My living room needs them and I’ll admit that I went to the web site hoping they were available!

    • Anne, you aren’t the first to make that request :) I’m not sure they are “fine” enough to sell but keep checking. My sewing skills aren’t quite there yet :)

    • Kelsey says...

      I second this request! Love them!

  19. Lora says...

    Her high-waist jeans and classic white shirt are all I can focus on here. Perfect uniform.

  20. Liv says...

    This is the most beautiful, warm, charming, fantastic home I’ve seen yet. My favorite! Serious home goals!

  21. Kim L says...

    Happy to see you feature a more ‘real’ home! Definitely not my style or aesthetic, but that’s the beauty of this series – something for everyone!

  22. You didn’t show the garden! I hear it’s epic. ;) Super cute couple and awesome style. I’m always interested to see how people manage to baby proof their homes without losing their aesthetic or letting the toys and baby paraphernalia take over.

    A couple years before we had our first child, my husband and I bought our first really nice piece of furniture…a Crate & Barrel couch that we had wanted for years. It’s beautiful, but it’s light gray, so whenever a friend with a small child came to visit, we would cover it with an old quilt (and it has stayed covered ever since my daughter was born. :P) Sometimes we uncover it when adult company comes over, but we hold our breaths the whole time…it’s like that Seinfeld episode. We are not materialistic or stuffy people at all–that couch is just literally the nicest thing we own.

    Before we had our baby we joked that someone should write an essay about how when you turn a certain age you either have a baby, or you buy a nice couch. :P :D

    • Capucine says...

      You know, there is truth in that – we had many a second-hand sofa and I said I would know I had reached adulthood the day I bought a couch new. Then we had children, and it sure didn’t make sense to buy one then. Then I stopped thinking about it at all, and became an adult! (Ikea couches second-hand with new slipcovers periodically are how I do it.)

    • Maiz Connolly says...

      When we bought a nice couch, my mom said, “It’s beautiful, but that’s not a great couch for kids.” And I said, “What?! Uh, Mom, we don’t have any kids.” But then a few years later…

    • Volha says...

      I love that, so true ))

  23. Mandy winter says...

    I adore this place! It feels like a home! What a beautiful place for the little girl to grow up.

  24. HRT says...

    Thanks for representing NELA. I love every neighborhood in this area. Last week I went to see a couple of bands in Highland Park and on our drive home over the hill to Eagle Rock I saw a beautiful deer in the middle of the road. It’s a fun, funky neighborhood. Sadly, it’s become pretty unaffordable for most people.

  25. Love it! What a creative couple and home. The mobile is great!

  26. Trisha says...

    this place is incredible! I love how it doesn’t feel so “fancy” like some home tours can be (except the awesome tent in the backyard. that is fancy! ha). kind of makes me appreciate my tiny house and what I could do with it!

    • Anna says...

      Yes! It’s nice to see A. a rental, B. a place without an absolutely trendy, updated kitchen, and C. not bare minimal decorating. It’s still aspirational, but it looks lived in and I can imagine actually setting foot in this house.

  27. shopgirl says...

    A bit too bohemian for my taste. Perhaps as a holiday house ;-)

  28. i love this house — so pretty and so real and the ideas within are achievable!

  29. Lo says...

    This house is so cool, I aim to have a home where people feel super chill and relaxed when they visit.

    Lo

  30. Us IT folk have great homes too… :)

  31. Nat says...

    I really like this house tour because it is not the usual Instagram perfect house. You can see it’s a work in progress. It’s cosy and real.
    thank you :)

  32. Annelies says...

    Love the garden with tent and the relax vibe they have going on. I think you should do a week of outfits with Mikael.

    • Joanna Goddard says...

      great idea!

  33. That’s the most classic and beautiful living room I’ve ever seen! What a gorgeous home.

    Joanne

  34. Thank you so much for sharing this, I loved looking through the photos :) It got me dreaming about moving into a house like that, it’s so open and airy but also full of character. The interview was very interesting too! I like how it provided insight into the house itself and their lives.

    Have a great rest of your week :)

    Chloe

  35. Lee says...

    I LOVE this home tour. I feel like I could afford to have a house like this, and they seem like lovely, funny people to hang out with!

  36. Monica says...

    NEVER in a million years would I have thought I’d hear Glassell Park mentioned on your amazing blog Joanna! I was raised in this lovely neighborhood and still live in the area. Warms my heart :)

    • Jackie says...

      yes, thank you for featuring some off-the-beaten-path places in Los Angeles! This home and couple made me smile.

  37. MC says...

    My favorite home tour yet :)

  38. Cristina says...

    I generally enjoy the house tours, but it’d be great if you could feature more people who are not in creative fields. Lawyers can be interesting and love design too.

  39. My favorite house tour so far! I would live here in a heartbeat. The relaxed vibe is so refreshing to see here.

  40. Anna says...

    I love that it looks like a family really lives there! And all the books! (I felt like I wanted to step into the picture to look through their bookshelf)…

  41. That tent is so cool. Goals for my future self.

  42. Jessica says...

    Where are her boots from?!?!?!?!?!?!
    Also, I appreciated seeing a house that looks lived in — I love that the kitchen and kid’s room aren’t perfect.

  43. Cheryl says...

    The owner should just hand the house over already. Give these folks a break for God’s sake.

    • Lauren says...

      Haha! It seems like theyre doing just fine to me — both self-employed and able to afford a big spacious rental in LA!

  44. Deborah says...

    So fun to see my neighborhood represented!

  45. Anna says...

    Love this home tour and the sweet family.

  46. Denise says...

    Ooooo, I love the water in the painting above the bedroom dresser! & the mint green exterior paint in the last pic! & the tent! What a fun home tour.

  47. What a dreamy house!

  48. Lily says...

    My dream house!

  49. Christy says...

    This was sensational. An attainable and “real” aesthetic. Real people have stuff and it’s usually all over the place. They somehow make theirs look chic and beautiful. Best one yet. And that outdoor tent is my new goal for the backyard. Thank you for sharing this adorable couple and their take on Grey Gardens living.

  50. ZM says...

    Stunning. I wanted to add, Mrs. Dalloway and Invisible Cities are my favourite books. Impeccable taste!

  51. “That we owned it”

    I totally identify with this!

  52. aga says...

    I absolutely LOVE this house and this family! So much character and spirit in this house! I love everything, from the kitchen cabinets that don’t close properly, the rubber gloves over the sink, the breezy windows in the master, to the MacIver patio in that magnificent garden, and all those beautiful carpets! It’s all so dreamy and aspirational but also so real and full of live.

    • shopgirl says...

      Me too!

  53. Definitely read “photographer and drug dealer” ha!

    • Amy says...

      So did I, haha!

    • Trish O says...

      Me too. I was “well, I guess we are just putting it all out there now”

    • Elliesee says...

      Rug merchant has a better ring!

    • Lily says...

      Ha!

    • Sarah K says...

      Yep! I did a double take. :)

    • shopgirl says...

      Me too!

  54. I love this! Makes me want to start a commune in my backyard too! What Melaena said about the conversation around a fire pit rang so true to me! Fire is so meditative and comforting. Their house is real life perfection.

  55. I love that they are renters! I’m in neighboring Highland Park…their house (and backyard) definitely represents the NELA (Northeast LA) vibe!

  56. Marie says...

    This home tour is one of my favorites. I love all of the paintings that they have displayed- especially the large one over the dresser in their bedroom.

  57. DIANA says...

    “You definitely need your tetanus shot before visiting.”

    Yep, I’m going to steal that line.

  58. Lenie says...

    My nine months old girl is also crazy about the remote control!

  59. “I was six months pregnant and could already hear our daughter taking her first footsteps in the living room” – Wow, I love that. What an incredible feeling! We’re looking at real estate in New York right now for our move in a few months from France with our two girls and I hope I get that feeling with the right place! What an amazing profile! Gorgeous home!

    Xoxo http://www.touchofcurl.com

  60. Lizzie says...

    How about a beautiful uniform post with Malaena?!

  61. Rasheeda says...

    Omg, her voice though. Her music gives me the same, wistful summer evening feel I get when I listen to Iron & Wine. Makes me want to lay in a hammock and stare up at the blue sky and the floating clouds all day. Just pure magic. Their home is utter beauty. Thanks for sharing Jo! Xo from Toronto!

    • shannon says...

      Ok, wistful summer evening feel is exactly what iron and wine sounds like! I have to check out her music now!

  62. Laura says...

    How do any of these people afford to own homes? a rug dealer and a musician? And in the other home series it’s like artists, photographers, entrepreneurs… I’m just in awe than anyone is able to own property on those salaries

    • shanze says...

      I think they said that they don’t own it actually. I lot of people buy houses when they are in terrible shape and then fix them up even though I think that window is gone- This place doesn’t look expensive,just loved & curated.

      currently renting in DC and it looks like we’ll NEVER have enough to catch up to the real estate prices so I FEEL you! I don’t even care where the house is at this point, i just want my girls to stay at their amazing charters!

    • Jen says...

      As you might see at the end, they wished they owned it and they do talk about their landlord at the beginning. Renters, not owners.

    • Jessica says...

      Well, it’s pretty clearly stated that they rent! So. :)

    • J says...

      They rent it.

    • wb says...

      Why do you assume that creatives can’t afford property?

    • krn says...

      i always think the same! i work in the photographic industry and my boyfriend is a musician/tech and we definitely could NOT afford to rent that level of fantasy place, let alone own any type of property EVER. it’s not like we’re just starting out either. i genuinely don’t know how these people do it!

  63. brianna says...

    This house is on point (I say that about every house)! But seriously, I love that they put so much heart and soul into a rental. It’s beautiful.

  64. Amy says...

    Dat baby tho!!

  65. Kaye says...

    I love this home tour, it’s the first one that hasn’t made me feel bad for being solidly middle class and a renter.

    Beautiful.

    • El says...

      Me too! I was so excited to see a rental featured. :)

    • LN says...

      YES!

    • Anna says...

      Agree!!

    • KylieO says...

      Oh my god, me too! Middle class renter over here also! ??

    • wb says...

      Agreed. I’ve been priced out of my city, and am also a renter. Inspiring how they made such a beautiful home.

    • Amanda W. says...

      Yes!!! I often shake my head while reading most of these. Beautiful homes, but I wonder how most can afford them (even as renters, really). Are they trust-fund babies? (I’m only half kidding.)

    • Elle says...

      Echoing all: very grateful, as a mid-30s creative with no hope of buying a home in the near future, to see a rental filled with IKEA furniture that manages to be thoughtfully and beautifully designed. Also love the ethos of re-use that clearly informs their design choices. So often “vintage” is simply another (often unattainable) mode of luxury consumption (and hot damn I want one of those rugs), but the salvaged, reconfigured, and homemade pieces here are inspiring.