Once a 1953 Edward Fickett home in old Hollywoodland fell out of escrow, Jim and Marianne Fox snapped it up (part 1). The home of their dreams was finally theirs, but it wasn’t a clean buy. Not only was the place a bit of a fixer upper, it was a bit out of their league.
“We didn’t even think we could afford this house—we went way over budget,” Jim says today. He and Marianne run a vintage clothing company, Go Monkey Business Inc., that sells to Japanese shops, high-end collectors and design houses like Ralph Lauren, Abercrombie & Fitch and American Eagle. Their specialties include original 1940s and ’50s Hawaiian shirts; Levi denim from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s; designer pieces from Emilio Pucci and Gucci; and English labels such as Ossie Clark, Biba, and Granny Takes a Trip—influential companies that were outfitting groups like the Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles in the ’60s and ’70s. After many buying trips to the U.S., the Foxes moved from London to LA in 1989.
“Our eyes lit up the first time we were in Los Angeles, coming from dowdy, gray London. Seeing pink and turquoise buildings everywhere and the palm trees—it was such an eye opener,” Jim says. Their eyes went wider still when they stumbled across the fixer upper.
Jim’s thrall with modern architecture stems from his love of ’50s rockabilly music, which led to the clothing of the era, then progressed into modern furniture. “We got to meet others in this business, some of whom own influential modern houses,” he says. “One owns the Oscar Niemeyer house in Santa Monica, the only one in America. Others own Neutra houses, another the Pierre Koenig Case Study house on Wonderland Park [the Bailey House, CS #21, which sold at a Wright auction in December 2006 for $2.8 million]. I love that house for its wonderful architecture but I love our views more.”
The Foxes liquidated some of their midcentury furnishings collection to help fund the purchase and pare down their belongings. The couple is fond of French designers and architects, particularly works from Jean Prouve and collaborator Charlotte Perriand. Their favorite major piece, a Maison du Mexique pine and lacquered metal shelving unit, was designed for the dormitory of Cité Universitaire in Paris in 1952.
Among the few furnishings in the open-plan living room are a vintage blue-green Womb chair and ottoman and an Osvaldo Borsani Techno chair from 1954. On their one non-glass wall is the Foxes’ biggest and best piece: a Maison Du Mexique shelving unit by Prouve and Perriand. One of the two low tables is a vintage Eames and the other a new Mini Wire Table by Modernica. This area was partitioned off as a second bedroom when the Foxes bought the house.
“Of course I love everything by Charles Eames and George Nelson,” Jim says. “We had a huge collection when we had our condo, but we just kept favorite pieces—we like to live a minimalist lifestyle. The beauty of this house is we have such wondrous views that we didn’t need too much inside.”
Once they moved in, the work began. See how the Foxes cleaned up their fixer upper Fickett using the same minimalist principals they know and love in part 3.