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Photo by Jeanne RiceHuntington Beach: three-bedroom, one-and-a-half-bath house
Occupant: Jason Bleick, clothing designer
Paid: $397,000 in 2001
Clothing designer Jason Bleick used to live in a typical wood-and-plaster Huntington Beach home in a tract neighborhood a short distance from the heart of Surf City. Then one day he defaced it with a sledgehammer, smothered it in plaster and gutted the interior.
Bleick's intention: destroy all signs of suburbia in and around his home.
Destructive behavior is not out of line for Bleick, whose specialty is tearing shit apart and putting it back together again with a whole new perspective. His streetwear line, Ever, features tight-fitting T-shirts, hooded zip-up jackets and high-end denim, which he personalizes with the edge of a sharp razor and then decorates with Asian-inspired stitch work. His creations have his personal stamp. The same goes for his home.
"I just like customizing everything I own," said Bleick, a former punk rocker who wears a silver stud in his lip and covers his shaved head with a baseball cap. "I keep the best elements in something and destroy the rest of it."
He's a self-described fan of modern architecture and mid-century living and gets most of his home-improvement inspiration from traveling around the world for work. His favorite kind of architecture is the kind found at the ultra-hip boutique hotels in Europe and Asia he stays at during his business travels.
Although Bleick is a globetrotter who drives a 500S-class Mercedes, he insists he's not a snob. "Oak trims and ornate moldings remind me of growing up and hanging out at my friends' parents' homes," he said, adding that he spent most of his youth in a neighborhood just a few blocks away. "I prefer simple designs using clean, straight lines."
For an amateur architect, Bleick's work is impressive. For the entrance, he designed and built a gate with perforated-steel mesh that leads to a sparse courtyard, which is protected by a concrete wall he installed to replace the original wood fence. It has a fortress feel that's perhaps a little too reclusive. The living room boasts black slate-tile flooring speckled with psychedelic patterns. A black-leather-and-walnut-framed Eames lounge chair and ottoman rest in the corner, and a richly grained Iroko hardwood fan-shaped coffee table provides the centerpiece. To complete his vision of modern living, Bleick covered the white brick fireplace with rosewood and hung a plasma TV in place of a mantle. A mid-century bubble lamp with swirls similar to a meringue cookie hangs from a high ceiling.
Bleick decorated the house with his own contemporary-style paintings: an airliner on a candy-striped canvas; a portrait of a sneaker; and an eerily lifelike, unfinished acrylic portrait of Sid Vicious. Other furniture and artwork were selected to remind him of his travels—snapshots of famous fashion designs from a museum exhibit in London, graffiti street art in New York and rural Asia—all of which inspire his clothing designs. A muted, multicolored hand-painted wood cabinet with built-in metal-framed mirrors and foil embellishments is shaped like a temple. His bathroom is Zen-like, with lightly scented candles and a marble Devi goddess that Bleick bought from a small band of gypsies in front of the Taj Mahal, and in the dining room, an airbrushed painting of Henry Rollins hangs on the wall. But the most obvious sign of Bleick's hardcore sense of home is in his kitchen—two life-size female mannequins, one dressed in a vintage Air Force flight suit and a Mickey Mouse hat with the name Marilyn sewn on (a gift from a musician friend after a Marilyn Manson concert) and the other decked out in a vintage Black Flag T-shirt.
"It's my environment," Bleick said. "So I have to feel good about it when I come home at the end of the day."