Here's Looking At You, Kid
A stunning collection of contemporary art was the driving force behind Nicholas.Budd.Dutton's renovation and expansion of a house in Los Angeles
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 10/1/2006 12:00:00 AM
"I told them not to buy the house," architect Bill Nicholas recalls. But Stanley and Gail Hollander did anyway, despite the goodwill between them and Nicholas.Budd.Dutton, the firm they'd commissioned for their previous Los Angeles residence. The reason the couple stood their ground was simple: They absolutely needed more space for their art collection—which had been growing exponentially since 1999, when they were living in London. Stanley Hollander headed an Internet company there, while Gail Hollander purchased art with the help of Found Associates.
Young British Artists were all the rage, and the Hollanders, entranced, eventually returned to the U.S. with work by Chris Ofili, Antony Gormley, Tracey Emin, and Sarah Lucas, to name a few. Soon, those purchases were joined by cutting-edge California artists.
The 1950's Brentwood ranch house that the Hollanders bought had been redone countless times. The last remodel, for a bachelor, was far from suitable for a couple hoping to share their good fortune with three grown daughters and eight grandchildren. "All rational order," Nicholas says, "had been obliterated." So the firm's partners—Nicholas as well as his wife, Susan Budd, and John Dutton—imposed order of their own. They reconfigured the existing 6,000 square feet and added a wing and a garage to form an L shape, bringing the total to 6,500.
Turning the existing dining room into a gallerylike entry was the biggest change. Now, just past a new copperclad portal, is a space grand enough to accommodate a large walnut table by George Nakashima, an enormous portrait of a baby in grainy black and white, and a wry installation of wooden Ping-Pong paddles. Meanwhile, the former kitchen and family room made way for a capacious but homey new dining room. (The Hollanders are big on the benefit-party circuit.) In the master suite, the architects carved out his-and-hers bathrooms and dressing rooms. The three guest rooms, by contrast, saw scant changes.
The recent construction doesn't sacrifice sunlight. "As houses get bigger, they often end up with deep, dark spaces," Budd points out. To prevent that from happening in the wing—which includes the new kitchen and family room, plus a gallery—NBD capped the walls with clerestories and opened up the 19-foot folded ceiling with a skylight. Glass doors slide open to NBD's fresh landscaping.
Walnut flooring ties past and present together, running through the original house and into the addition's family room. Other materials contribute to a subdued backdrop for the art. Cork flooring, in a deep chocolate brown, flows through the addition's gallery and into the kitchen, where cabinetry is teak and counters are a white quartz composite. Except for the gallery, the ceiling of the addition is white oak. In the original house, NBD used rye-green slate floor tile in the hall to the master suite as well as in the master bathrooms.
As for furnishings, little besides four Poul Henningsen chandeliers and an oak bench from 1910 made the move from the couple's former home, where they'd concentrated on arts and crafts. "Stanley prefers the furniture to defer to the art," Budd says. "Gail has a lust for collectibles, but not ubiquitous stuff." Hardly. The architects and clients located rare Kaare Klint seating (14 dining chairs and a sofa), an Arne Jacobsen Egg chair with its original leather, and a pair of vintage Danish cane chairs at auctions in Copenhagen—Stanley Hollander was at the keyboard bidding, often at 3:00 AM Pacific time. Auctions in Chicago netted the entry's Nakashima table, a Nakashima bench for the living room, plus a Poul Kjærholm cocktail table for the family room. L.A. shops yielded the dining room's Dutch 1950's oval table, the living room's Billy Haines cocktail table, with its parallelogram top of myrtle burl, and four Oushak rugs. Contemporary forms pop up along the way: Antonio Citterio, for instance, designed the living room's straw-colored sofa and the family room's olive-green sectional, both upholstered in linen.
Meanwhile, the Hollanders never stopped adding to their art collection. They bought an Alice Neel oil on canvas and a Jonathan Meese bronze just as the architects finished up—and ran out of room again. Fortunately, the 1-acre site had space to spare for an 1,800-square-foot dedicated gallery building. It's slated for completion in late 2007.