Today we’d like to introduce you to John Douglas.
So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My career has felt like more of a happy accident (Bob Ross quote) rather than a well charted path. As a painter’s kid from Texas I figured I should do something else besides paint houses lest I go crazy so I started apprenticing with Kevin Stuart McGee who did all those awesome Bristol Farms murals back in the 1990’s. From there I branched out on my own and started doing stenciling, murals, and decorative painting on my own. I began doing artisan restoration on historic homes which lead to meeting up with an interior designer named David Goldberg in Pasadena. I decided I wanted to do interior design on historic homes and thus began my career designing bathrooms, kitchens, etc. I was not trained as a draftsman so I had to learn that pretty quick along with project management, selecting materials, fixtures and the like. That was going pretty well until… the great recession.
The great recession caught up with me around 2009 and no one… I mean no one was putting money into their homes. I had no work, a broken knee and was living with another family in a small house that was about to be foreclosed on. Ahh those were the days. After a while I limped (literally- que broken knee) into a warehouse to visit a friend in South Central LA right off the 110 and Slauson Ave only to realize it was 90% empty. I approached the owner about clearing out the warehouse and transforming it into an art colony. He figured he didn’t have anything to lose so thus began a new chapter in LA clearing out tons of architectural salvage and looking for makers, artists and creatives to rent space in this groovy old warehouse. During that project I met Rudy Dvorak and Zerik Scales. We joined forces to to create Reinhabit which was basically a really cool house flipping company. We started flipping houses in Echo Park, Silverlake, Hollywood’s Hills, etc. We also launched LA Salvage Home Staging and hired a guy named Arthur King to get that going. We did some amazing stuff and actually landed a pilot for a house flipping show on HGTV. That was sort of the beginning of the end for that 5-year chapter.
Bright eyed and bushy tailed as we were we went ahead and filmed the pilot. That took our eyes off the prize and things went south. HGTV declined the pilot and several of our projects suffered because of the distraction.
In 2016 I decided to dissolve my involvement, moved out of the warehouse and took a year to figure out what to do.
Today I am doing home staging, flipping a mid-century house in Torrance, making art and commuting a whole lot less. I also moonlight on a show called Restored where I do stenciling and murals from time to time. There is the short version believe it not.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has been a series of peaks and valleys. Really amazing highs and really intense soul crushing lows. It was hard to appreciate what I had when I first started off. The great recession showed me how bad things can get but I would not change that experience for anything. Sometimes you have to lose everything to see what you are really made of. Those are the rich experiences you push off of in life that build your character. Your character is really the only thing that matters and it is the only thing you will have in the end anyways.
JOHN DOUGLAS INTERIORS – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I love to create art and furniture and I also love finding cool artifacts and discarded or forgotten materials to make new things out of. I use things I make to stage homes, decorate houses and use in houses that I flip.
I would say I primarily do home staging and I think I am good at creating fun, inviting, soulful interiors. Sometimes home staging can feel very sterile. Everyone wants to play it safe. I like to take risks and create an environment where the whole person is invited show up.
We just staged a condo in Palm Springs for the daughter of her elderly mom who had recently passed away. I found some of her mom’s old art supplies and some of her art and used that in the staging. The daughter was so touched by that and happy we celebrate her mom in a small way. Things like that bring me the most joy.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
Many things stand out such as an old empty warehouse transformed in to a very full art colony, filming an HGTV pilot, flipping a lot of really cool homes, etc. However, I think I am most excited and proud of this last year in being able to slow down and not feel like I had to rush off and do the next thing after dissolving everything in LA. The stresses of paying bills and patching together a living did not go away by any means. But we do not have to have a mindset of scarcity if we don’t want to. Running around worried and stressed all the time is a choice, not a requirement.
Instead of falling into the next “happy accident” as I mentioned earlier I actually felt the need to slow down, invite my wife into the process and weave my wife and kids into the business as a more wholistic effort rather than me doing this solitary thing separate from them. That’s tough to explain but suffice to say being self-employed is a whole lot better when your family is present with you in the chaos.
- Address: 4000 Cherry Ave Long Beach CA
- Website: johndouglasdesign.com
- Phone: 310.780.8720
- Email: Jddesigns@mac.com
- Instagram: @johndouglasdesign