SoCal So Cool
Nicholas.Budd.Dutton grooves with Kay Kollar at a house in Los Angeles
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 10/1/2007 12:00:00 AM
Transplants to Los Angeles, an entrepreneurial couple with two teenage daughters had lived in a succession of settings: a house in Washington, D.C., a prewar apartment in New York, and eventually a Spanish colonial in Santa Monica. "But they were essentially modernists," says Bill Nicholas, a partner in Nicholas.Budd.Dutton. So it wasn't easy deciding what to do with the Paul László house on the 1-acre property they bought in Mandeville Canyon. "We went back and forth," Nicholas says of the sensitive question: To renovate the 1940's structure or begin anew? Ultimately, they opted to go for it all—7,500 square feet and a 40-foot swimming pool.
The couple did, however, retain the guest house—and camped out there during the 15 months of demolition and construction. NBD started with the basics. For separation between parents and kids, organization revolves around three rectangular volumes. At the center is the living-dining zone, overlooked by a mezzanine library. Jutting out on either side of this central block is a perpendicular wing. One contains the kitchen below and the master suite, complete with fitness room, above. In the other, a media room sits beneath the daughters' two bedrooms, which share a bath.
There's flexibility in the open spaces, and not all of them are grand. Believe it or not, cozy enters the vocabulary. No double-height rooms was one of the major directives that the architect received. (Whereas he'd been gunning for almost triple-height.) As a result, the living area is the only place in the house that opens to a 20-foot ceiling—and only part of the living area at that. It also extends underneath the mezzanine to form an alcove just right for a baby grand and scenic oils by a family friend. The alcove's walnut back wall is actually a 3-foot-deep partition with kitchen cabinetry on the other side; a pocket door slides out of this partition to close off the kitchen during parties. Likewise, NBD blurred the line between the kitchen and the TV room: Nicholas's walnut picnic table with matching bench is the unofficial divider. While family members focus on Damages or Mad Men, design-conscious guests tune in to the 1960's seating.
A sofa and chair in rosewood, chrome, and leather, these pieces from the family's previous home were what provided Kay Kollar Design with an initial cue to opt for vintage in furnishing the new house. Besides, Kay Kollar says, "The profiles of vintage wood furniture are softer and less abstract than what you get with new pieces. I shopped all around town and got inspired." For the dining area, her expeditions yielded eight Edward Wormley cane chairs and an acrylic chandelier; she reupholstered the chair seats in linen and added polished-chrome tops to the chandelier's vertical tubes. She also left her mark on the living area's puzzle cocktail table, a 1960's walnut piece. Picking up on the blues of the surrounding paintings, she placed a square of cornflower-lacquered MDF on top of the walnut, then used the same material for a new L-shape table that fits perfectly into the puzzle table's notched corner. Clustered nearby are her other vintage finds: a third cocktail table, this time by Harvey Probber, a pair of T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings walnut armchairs, and a 1960's floor lamp. Its colorful enameled base caused a bit of controversy between the women on the premises (love it) and the men (not so much).
Fast-forward nearly four decades to Antonio Citterio's sofa and daybed. "We used them for scale and their classic lines," Kollar explains. What she didn't use was the standard upholstery. Instead, she chose coordinating shades of pale chartreuse mohair for the sofa and leather for the daybed. As for the rest of her palette, it features four colors of paint, from mustard to olive; a similar olive for the lacquer on kitchen cabinetry; and interwoven taupe and grassy tones for the huge wool rugs.
For flooring, Nicholas installed cork in the kitchen and sustainably harvested Brazilian teak in the rest of the ground level. Similarly eco-friendly ipé clads the restrained outside entry and reappears as decking on the covered porch. Because this is Southern California, of course, interconnected indoor spaces are, in turn, connected to outdoor ones, and almost all have a panoramic view. Depending on your stance, your gaze alights on the distant Getty Center, Palos Verdes, or the Santa Monica Bay.