On a hillside in the creative enclave of Silver Lake in Los Angeles, California native and designer Heidi Merrick enjoys a relaxed family life that mimics the easygoing, modern silhouettes she creates for her eponymous line of ready-to-wear and home goods.
Her uniquely West Coast ethos is influenced by an idyllic upbringing in Carpentaria (a small oceanside city in southeastern Santa Barbara County) and a freethinking, creative family. (Her father is legendary surfboard shaper Al Merrick, and her mom is an amazing collector and seamstress.) “My family are craftsmen,” says Heidi. “My dad is, bar none, the best shaper, and my mom is so visually talented. Our house was always so beautiful. I grew up with strong aesthetics, so I’m fine doing whatever I want to do.”
And so she does in the 1920s Spanish-style home she shares with her husband, Johnny, and her two adorable kids, Hiver and Alfie. The space that she originally dubbed “Santa Barbara Riviera” has a curved exterior, graceful arches, and Saltillo tile. “I got LASIK after we bought the place and realized, ‘We aren’t on the Riviera; that’s Sunset Boulevard,’” she says, laughing. And like the waves she grew up surfing, her home is an organic, evolving environment. “It’s constantly changing that way,” she says. “My art moves once a month. Or I will say, ‘I can’t live with that anymore. What do we do?’”
Throughout the luminous rooms there is an effortless ease and bohemian vibe shaped by furniture and accents that include flea-market finds, hand-me-downs, and designs by local artists and makers. The mix is more a result of an emotional journey than a trendy mood board or textbook design. “How you deal with the space around you and your own mind and heart reflect each other,” says Heidi. “I let something stay that might not be totally gorgeous to other people, but it’s part of me.”
The entry reflects Heidi’s organic design process. “We had a television there,” she says. “The books hid the wires.” The TV didn’t last, but the haphazard array of art titles stayed, now under a painting from her husband’s bachelor days. “I thought it was a sexy single-dude picture. I love it.”
A glass-and-iron coffee table holds part of Heidi’s library of art and fashion books. “My grandmother was a painter, so she had really beautiful museum books that I still have.” The leather armchairs are by an L.A. designer.
“When I finish a collection, my eye turns to my house,” says Heidi. “The inspiration doesn’t stop at work.” In the living room, texture and form converge to create an idyllic California hangout. The daybed is from a now-shuttered neighborhood shop, and the Moroccan rug was found on One Kings Lane.
Heidi eschews an overly considered vignette. “To me, that’s the wrong way to go about it,” she says. “What we’re doing is bringing happiness and love into our homes. That drives my decisions.” The wooden horse sculpture is from Casa Victoria on Sunset Boulevard, and the sconce, like most of the others in the home, is from her mother-in-law’s antiques shop.
Keep some of your grandmother’s stuff, your mother-in-law’s stuff, things that are a little weird. They’re a piece of you. They add to the charm of your life.
“When we moved in, there was nothing in the kitchen,” says Heidi. “We put in the whole thing.” Rough-hewn touches like cutting boards, handed down from her mother, and an antique drum keep things charming and homey. “We all love to cook. I usually do dinner. I like to use my doufeu to make simple dishes like Moroccan chicken.”
The design cred of Eames chairs is great, but so is their practicality. “When you have kids, these are the best chairs,” Heidi says. The antique table was a gift from her mother-in-law when she was first married. “She’s awesome. There’s wisdom in buying a young girl a beautiful piece of furniture.” The hide is from Argentina.
Heidi with Johnny, Hiver, and Alfie in their 1920s Spanish home. The surfboard was made by her father, surf icon and board shaper Al Merrick. “He made a few of them from a 3,000-year-old redwood. My brother and I both have one.”
The chaises are placed by the front door by design. “That’s where the beautiful vistas are,” says Heidi. “We can spend an entire Saturday lying on them.” Heidi ordered the cushion fabric online and accessorized the chairs with pillows from her own collection.
Unlike many other Angelenos, Heidi tends to her own gardens. “I’m a mad scientist with bougainvillea,” she laughs. “No… but I’m a good gardener.” Heidi likes free-form arrangements using things from the backyard. The iron settee was her grandmother’s. The silver teapot is a leftover from her wedding. “We had them on the reception tables. It’s a nice memory to have around.”
“We really live outdoors,” says Heidi. “When people come over, I’m always pushing them to eat and hang outside. It’s so special.”
When people come over, I want them to feel like they’re living with me, you know, that we’re living a great life together.
“The second Hiver came home, I put a canopy up,” says Heidi. “I used to make homemade canopies for our bed until my husband said, ‘It’s not happening anymore.’” Rounding out the global-glam look are pink velvet chairs, a colorful Mexican blanket, and a set of chandeliers. “Hiver takes them apart to wear the crystals as earrings.”
More femme touches adorn her daughter’s dresser—a find inherited from a former tenant. Heidi picks up sketching models whenever she finds them. “They’re used to practice drawing body poses,” says Heidi. “Hiver often asks, ‘Let’s draw this. Do you have a model?’ When she starts fashion sketching, she’ll have them.”
When I finish a collection, my eye turns to my house. The inspiration doesn’t stop at work.
Son Alfie sits on a four-poster bed in its latest incarnation. “It used to be a guest bed, so we just cut off the legs,” says Heidi. “It has been at least six colors; I call this shade ‘shaping room blue’—it’s the color of my dad’s shaping room.” The throw was found at the Echo Park Craft Fair, and the chest used to house tools in the garage.
Heidi’s favorite spot in her home? Her bed—an amazing piece designed by Bernard Brucha of MASHstudios. “Isn’t it awesome?” says Heidi. “I got it for my 40th birthday—best present ever.” A Moroccan rug, Heidi’s own pillow designs, and an indigo throw blend to create a down-to-earth vibe. “I like things to be a little undone.”
The bath has original built-ins and Batchelder tile. “I painted it all white,” says Heidi. “People gasp, ‘You painted it? That tile is iconic!’ But it was brown, and I didn’t like it. It is still there.” Heidi found Moroccan-style pendants to go with the mats and the embroidered shower curtain. Bougainvilleas from the garden fill a rustic pitcher.
I’ve kind of turned our home into what I would say is 80 percent repurposed, which just feels like the right thing to do.
Heidi’s signature collection of pillows, cut from the same fabrics as her dresses and skirts, run the gamut from brilliant ikats to nude leathers to sequins.
Heidi’s cool cushion line evolved as organically as her home. “It was as simple as, ‘Oh my God, I need this print for my room,’” she says. “I used studio time to make them and bring them home.” Soon Heidi decided to share the styles—ranging from bold ikats and African prints to sultry nude leathers and sequins—cut from the same cloth as her dresses and skirts. “What’s beautiful on people is usually beautiful in their home.” It’s a no-brainer for someone who is passionate about responsible design. “It’s important that everything’s made in America,” says Heidi. “Our products are 100 percent repurposed from fabric left over in the studio. It feels like the right thing to do.”
Heidi sits on a peacock chair found at a garage sale that has been painted and repainted based on her mood. Currently? Matte black.
My designs are cool, clean, and ethereal—if those can exist together. The pieces always have a sense of fantasy, your elevated self, because that’s the point, isn’t it?