Musician’s LA home combines colour and modernity

Los Angeles interior designer Corinne Mathern has created new interiors for a modernist gem originally designed by architect Schwen Wei Ma in 1952

Entrance of Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders' LA home with bespoke wooden screen dividing it from the house
The entrance to the house originally designed in 1952 by architect Schwen Wei Ma and recently renovated by Los Angeles interior designer Corinne Mathern. The screen was created to divide the entrance from the house, and made to measure by local design build firm PSS Design Cult
(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

A house originally conceived in 1952 by architect Schwen Wei Ma for Peter Soo Hoo (one of the founders of Los Angeles’ newer Chinatown) gets a new lease of life with an interior refresh by LA interior designer Corinne Mathern. The house’s original design was remodelled in the 1960s by Gilbert Leong, the first Chinese-American to graduate from USC with a degree in architecture, and the author of many of Chinatown’s buildings. 

Mathern’s interior renovation maintained the soul of the home with a light, practical update of finishes and amenities. ‘The property is an example of classic Los Angeles midcentury architecture and had charming, original details throughout,’ she says.

A new life for Schwen Wei Ma's LA house

Recently described as a ‘1950s time capsule’, the house’s original details guided Mathern’s design, which was focused on repurposing some of the original features to keep its character intact. 

The brief from the client (Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders, who had recently bought the house) focused on keeping the house’s original character, and offered guiding visual references that include the films of Jacques Tati and Michelangelo Antonioni, the light in William Eggleston’s photography, as well as Jean Prouve’s furniture.

Lounge area with gray couch on tiled floor in front of tiled coffee table with green plant on top

The house's living room features a bespoke sculptural coffee table made of D Tile systems, alongside a refurbished chrome and linen sofa from Midcentury LA

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Kitchen with wooden cupboards and middle island towards lounge

View from the bespoke kitchen

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Colour was a key consideration throughout the interiors, with bright bespoke elements including a blue bar, yellow legs on the dining table, and a large-scale tiled coffee table in a deep rust shade. Materials-wise, Mathern offered a palette of chrome metals and honed concrete softened by custom walnut panelling for warmth.

‘The materials and colours were all chosen to have a chalky, smoky filter on them so they felt muted and like they could have been part of the house in 1952,’ says the designer. 

An eclectic collection of vintage and bespoke furniture

Adding a new layer to the house’s interiors is a series of vintage pieces sourced from local galleries by Mathern, from Bruno Rey stools for the bar to a Friso Kramer chair and Peter Løvig desk for the home office. 

The vintage furniture is combined with custom-designed elements, such as the dining table (created in collaboration with Los Angeles-based design-build firm PSS Design Cult) referencing a Jean Prouvé design and placed alongside raw oak chairs by Robert Guillerme and Jacques Chambron, sourced from France. 

Wooden dining table with yellow legs with four wooden chairs

Bespoke dining table with chairs by Robert Guillerme and Jacques Chambron

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Home office in Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders' LA home

In the home office, Friso Kramer chair and Peter Løvig desk

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Mathern also worked with PSS Design Cult to create further bespoke elements, such as the modernist-inspired walnut screen that defines the house’s entrance, and with local woodworker Christopher Norman, who created a custom walnut piece to be placed above the bed.

The result, for this gem among Los Angeles houses, is a bright, airy space with a palette of colours and materials that feels contemporary yet authentic to the house's original design.

A blue room serving as the house bar, with a door leading to a space with Matt Helders' drums

The house's blue bar, with vintage Bruno Rey stools

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

The bedroom of the house, with white and dusty blue walls and a wooden panel on the wall above the bed

The bedroom features a bespoke wooden panel by LA woodworker Christopher Norman

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Kitchen with wooden paneling and a steel worktop

The renovated kitchen

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Guest room with wooden bed with yellow bedding

A vintage daybed in the guest room

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Arctic Monkeys drummer Matt Helders' music studio with a blue curtain and Mies Van Der Rohe black leather cantilevered chair

The music studio features a Mies Van Der Rohe black leather cantilevered chair

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

The house's dining area looking towards the living room

Separated by a wooden screen, the dining and living areas of the house feature a mix of vintage and bespoke furniture

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

The bathroom with grey tiles, rust coloured curtains and a bespoke wooden panel

The bathroom features a bespoke wooden panel created by PSS Design Cult

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Sage green bespoke cabinet

A bespoke cabinet design

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Bathroom sink with a mirror reflecting a bespoke wooden screen that hides a toilet

A bespoke wooden screen in the bathroom, created in collaboration with PSS Design Cult

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)

Lounge area with blue couch next to long lamp with golden shade in front of wooden paneled wall

The living room features bespoke wooden paneled walls and vintage furniture as well as a tiled sculptural table

(Image credit: Laure Joliet)


Rosa Bertoli was born in Udine, Italy, and now lives in London. Since 2014, she has been the Design Editor of Wallpaper*, where she oversees design content for the print and online editions, as well as special editorial projects. Through her role at Wallpaper*, she has written extensively about all areas of design. Rosa has been speaker and moderator for various design talks and conferences including London Craft Week, Maison & Objet, The Italian Cultural Institute (London), Clippings, Zaha Hadid Design, Kartell and Frieze Art Fair. Rosa has been on judging panels for the Chart Architecture Award, the Dutch Design Awards and the DesignGuild Marks. She has written for numerous English and Italian language publications, and worked as a content and communication consultant for fashion and design brands.

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