Just up the hill from some of LA’s most beloved eateries and vintage shops sits a storybook cottage arrayed with curiosities. Follow the path through its shaggy garden (replete with pipe-smoking gnome and spray-painted mannequin legs) and you’ll be rewarded with a treasure trove of ever-changing memorabilia so colorful and bewitching you might forget what brought you there in the first place.
“I wanted it to look like Willy Wonka, where you could eat the walls,” says artist Annakim Violette of her Silverlake-neighborhood home. “I wanted each room to have that gooey, cake-like feel.” Any way you turn, objects vie for your attention: there’s a statue of a coiled cobra painted gold, a taxidermic goat’s head covered in glitter paint (one of Violette’s original works) and a hand-stitched sign that reads “God Bless Our Pad.” Rooms are spread with books on raw food, art deco design and the history of costumes, Indian furniture made from repurposed doors, a human skull—and every ceiling is hung with vintage chandeliers.
“Most of my things were gifts,” explains Violette. “I’ve acquired things through friends and through art projects and through experiences…So, economically, it’s all based on love. It’s not about possessions or possessing.”
Finding her dream house required a year of searching and a moment of extraordinary luck. After scouring the homes available for sale, Violette visited this one because she thought it was funny that the owner’s name, Anne Kim, was almost the same as her own. Only after escrow closed did Violette realize her new front yard was trellised with wisteria and planted with a towering jacaranda—both of which would soon bloom with flowers in her signature color, purple.
She painted the house the orange hue of a monarch butterfly because she wanted it to be “this ever-changing entity”— so objects move regularly from room to room in an ongoing flux. “Obviously there is no—especially if you’re raised touring—stability,” explains Violette, who spent much of her childhood on the road with her father, musician Tom Petty. She wanted her home to encapsulate the frenetic energy of her time on the move, while also feeling permanent and comforting. She explains, “I feel like this is a nest, but all birds can fly, right?”
Spiderwebs are welcome here, among the coterie of painted bats and images from Alice in Wonderland and other children’s fables. And if her visitors feel that they’ve just stepped into a storybook, well, that’s all part of Violette’s vision. She wanted her house to have “that tragic element, where it’s so beautiful that you don’t even want to walk in.” But walk in they do, especially when Violette hosts one of her parties, which have featured themes like rasta pasta and glam rock.
Though the house is designed to tread softly on the environment—it’s painted with ecologically-sound paint, uses fluorocarbon-free air-conditioning and employs organic and bio-degradable products—Violette aimed to create something very different from the standard eco-dwelling, which seems stagnant to her— “like zombie living.” She feels most such homes look like their owners are “afraid of life.” In contrast, Violette’s home spills life—from the backyard fruit trees which are constantly dropping avocados, apples, figs, lemons and tangerines, to the painted bats that hang from her purple ceilings. In fact, Violette paints these animals to resurrect them—and because she finds them “too beautiful to leave.”
The house is, in every aspect, fearless—and this, too, was part of its design. “I feel like there’s an innocence to not being restrained,” Violette explains. “When a bird sings, it’s not flapping its wings going, am I in tune?”
“People are afraid of laughter,” she says. “But me? I’m always laughing.”