Their home crafted by the Streng Bros. in the 1960s (Part 1) had a nice overhaul of the outdated kitchen (Part 2). But now, it was down to one final touch to give it that classic oomph: midcentury kitsch.
Paul Torrigino and Richard Gutierrez had ceramic pavers installed throughout their midcentury pad and began to furnish the three-bedroom home. “We had not one stick of modern furniture when we moved here,” Torrigino says. “We debated whether to use actual period furniture and make it look like it was really 1962, or to get new stuff, which is nicer; you don’t have to restore it and it’s more in scale. We found we really liked the new stuff.”
A sofa and chairs from Natuzzi and reissued pieces from midcentury designers such as Eileen Gray, George Nelson and Isamu Noguchi are in the family room, part of an open area that also houses the kitchen, dining area and a computer station. Their guest-room-cum-second-office has a Crate & Barrel bed that looks decidedly tropical in the yellow, peach and blue–schemed space decorated with caricature sculptures and a detailed Disneyland map made by the pair.
Their home combines contemporary with midcentury kitsch—the actual dishes used on “I Love Lucy” in a framed shadow box, ventriloquist dummies, an autograph collection and tiki barware. But it’s outside where you see even more of the creativity that distinguishes the couple’s careers.
Gutierrez, who was hired at Disney when he was a mere 20 years old, counts Tokyo’s DisneySea as among his most memorable projects. Torrigino, whose 21 years as an Imagineer emphasized animatronics, says his favorite job was art directing the figures for Paris Disneyland. Not surprisingly, their midcentury kitsch landscape looks pretty theme-parkish.
A barely contained jungle of ferns, vines, bamboo and palms is punctuated with wind chimes, tiki torches and the occasional toucan perched under a thatched roof. They’ve constructed curving lava rock borders that contain various jokey vignettes: skulls with impatiens growing through them, a shipwrecked beach scene with a South Seas totem, a plastic crocodile, starfish and ropes of pearls—very Pirates of the Caribbean meets A Small World.
Torrigino did a sign for the tiki bar at their last home, which led to a new online business, Pariarts.com. Although they’ve since stopped customizing new sign designs, you can still find and own some of their incredible signs to have in your own home.
“When people come into a tiki atmosphere, they just let their hair down,” Torrigino says. The same can be said of their martini parties, no doubt.