Antonia Hutt collaborates with Kirkpatrick Associate Architects on an island-style renovation in Brentwood Park, Los Angeles.
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 3/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
A FEARLESS INNOVATOR when it comes to enlivening the standard decorative potpourri, Antonia Hutt was thrilled by the opportunities presented by the renovation of clients Scott and Jody Siegler's property in Brentwood Park, Los Angeles. The Sieglers gave Hutt-a transplanted Brit now firmly ensconced in the L.A. design world-free rein to exercise her imagination in transforming, with the help of architect Grant Kirkpatrick, a once stylistically bland house into a captivating, Caribbean-style retreat.
"We were looking for warm-weather architecture and design that would be suitable to Los Angeles," says Jody Siegler. A former motion picture marketing executive with two degrees from Harvard, she quickly became a vital member of the creative team.
Siegler was committed to retaining the footprint of her single-story, 1940s-era house. Stylistically, however, the building had little on which to capitalize. Substantial remodeling, effected by Kirkpatrick and his partner Stephen Straughan, took the house down its studs; the architects then rebuilt and expanded it on the original block. Everything is new: the façade, metal roof, fenestration, trellises, wood railings, and landscaping. Inside, the original layout of public spaces was retained. Living and dining rooms were reconstructed flanking the center entry hall, but their interconnection was emphasized through wide, transom-topped archways. French doors in both the living and dining spaces maintain an indoor/outdoor connection in keeping with the desired resort ambience.
The addition of facing wings created a welcoming U-shaped configuration. One side, mostly a breezeway, houses the garage and maids' quarters. The other, in split-level arrangement, has a well-equipped gym and library below, a master suite above. A family room with a pavilion-like enclosure for the breakfast room has also been added to the rear. The remodeled house encompasses 7,200 sq. ft.
"This was really exciting for a designer," says Hutt, whose influence extended to all architectural details developed with Kirkpatrick, Straughan, and the client during weekly site meetings. "Here was a client who wanted to do something truly different yet appropriate. Her clear vision made it easier from day one." Noel Coward's Jamaican dwelling "Firefly" was a strong inspiration. Color, pattern, gleaming white millwork, French doors, transoms, and a hint of British colonial architecture combine to create a richly evocative setting that nevertheless remains true to its context in west Los Angeles.
"I find it hard to explain my feelings about color," the designer says of her boldest move. "I intuitively understand it, yet I constantly study it and the way it's affected by light." Hutt was immediately drawn to shades of peach, chartreuse, pale azure, and soft yellow. Some of Hutt's choices-like a subtle, slightly-off green in the powder room-might scare off a less venturesome spirit, yet they prove to be both gracious and appealing.
The furnishings reflect Hutt's highly individual approach to the British colonial style. "From the start we knew the décor wouldn't be anything other than traditional," she says. "We were going to use antiques, nothing contemporary." Certain pieces overtly suggest the White Mischief theme, such as the heavy mahogany-and-cane dining room table and chairs, a pair of 19th-century half-round tables, and pineapple carvings on the mantel. The rest of the mix is an eclectic collection of Asian, Biedermeier, and Empire pieces. Custom upholstery is used throughout, and the seating pieces all feature cheerful fabrics and generous proportions.
Surprisingly, given a team of strong-willed personalities, the process was not only harmonious, but also proceeded flawlessly. "It was a true journey from beginning to end," Hutt comments. "We had no preset ideas." Siegler adds: "This was a chorus, not a solo. The right attitude produced results representing the best of three people rather than one."
An accomplished team player, Hutt cites the project's architectural components rather than her own achievements. "I like the layout, the courtyard, and the fact that it's all on one level. I really love the roof line with its Chinois-like pitch."
The house was completed in a year. Kirkpatrick also credits Nevert Kluska, Tom Clapper, and Luis Murillo.