Portfolio: Kerry Joyce

Joyce discusses his two decades of ageless design...

Boston-born Kerry Joyce may have dramatic inclinations—he acted in more than 60 plays by the time he was 16 years old—but it is the Los Angeles–based interior designer’s timeless style that truly captivates his clients. “I’m not into trends. I don’t like ugly things,” says Joyce, who works out of a modern, loft-like space in the city’s Silver Lake neighborhood. “So much of what’s in vogue now is borderline vulgar. You can’t just throw a bunch of things together and call it done. If it goes together or matches, people sometimes think it’s old-fashioned, but I have a hard time dealing with things that aren’t tasteful.”

Indeed, good taste is a hallmark of Joyce’s work, and this is true whether his creations date back 10 months or 10 years. Today most of his projects are in Southern California, but he is quick to point out that no two are ever alike. “I’m currently doing a grand home in Beverly Hills, a modern stone house from 1939 in Malibu up on a bluff, as well as projects in Aspen and Southampton,” he says. “There’s always something fresh and exciting.”

Joyce recently spoke with Robb Report Home & Style about how he has commanded the attention of his audience with more than two decades of ageless design.

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Your background in theater—how has it influenced you as a designer?

I went to summer theaters as a child and then a performing arts high school. When I got to NYU, I was working in the school’s costume department. One thing led to another, and I got into doing set design on Broadway. The big leap was when I decided to come to L.A. [in 1975], and worked on doing sets for TV shows. After a couple of years, I decided to start my own design resource company, selling architectural pieces. People liked my aesthetic and kept asking me to do their interiors. At the time, I didn’t understand interior design, but I’m a quick learner—the first time I do something never looks like the first time I’ve done something.

What was your first project?

A house for the actress Jami Gertz and her husband. It was published in 1995 in Elle Decor, and it helped launch me as a designer.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

I’d say about two-thirds of what I do is traditional, but I work in different styles. I like to be timeless—nothing is ever time-stamped for an era.

Tell us about your design process.

It’s important for me to build trust with a client. It’s about getting a sense of the feeling they want the house to have and then physically creating that.

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Time after Time

Joyce prides himself on his spaces never looking dated. “I love that when someone walks into one of my homes, it’s hard to pinpoint when it was completed,” he says. “Older homes often look fresh, while new builds often feel like they have a sense of history.”

Training Days 

“I started out in the theater, where you sort of have to teach yourself,” says Joyce. “I’m not a formally trained architect. I have a deep appreciation for architecture and research and believe that good bones are essential to a successful interior design. In Los Angeles, clients entrust me to create 25,000-square-foot homes. It’s not overwhelming or scary for me. I never feel out of my depth.”

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Kerry Joyce’s Top 10

Spot to Unwind: A room with a view of the lake at Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy. Or I escape to my country home, in Litchfield County, Connecticut—secluded, quiet, and 5 magical acres of river frontage.

Tableware: I love the matte finishes and nuanced colors from Heath Ceramics. My current favorite is the Chez Panisse design in Slate and Sand.

Home Decor: I have my own line of furniture, textiles, and lighting, but I also love the items in Larry Schaffer’s store OK on West Third Street in Los Angeles.

Neighborhood Restaurant: Cafe Stella is my favorite little French restaurant in Sunset Junction [also in L.A.]. It has two great bars, and it is right next door to Intelligentsia Coffee.

Architecture: La Sagrada Família, Gaudí’s astonishing unfinished church in Barcelona.

Era for Design: The 1930s. I love art moderne, Jean-Michel Frank, and Èmile-Jacques Ruhlmann.

Art: Just about any portrait by John Singer Sargent.

Gift to Give: I love exquisite desk accessories designed by Carl Auböck, a cult hero of the 1940s and ’50s.

Souvenir: The bloodred, handblown Venetian wineglasses I bought in Venice when traveling with my parents.

For Inspiration: It seems obvious, but there is nothing better than a leisurely drive up the California coast. Kerry Joyce Associates, 323.660.4442, www.kerryjoyce.com

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