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Hidden treasure from Home & Architectural Trends volume 2801
Not every house reveals itself to the street. Sometimes you need to walk through the gate to enter another world – one where every turn on the garden path and every open door reveals a new surprise.
This new house, by architect Richard Landry, provides such an experience. Landry says the design is a response to two key influences – a very long, narrow clifftop site that has a slight kink, and traditional rural Italian architecture.
"The shape of the site did make the design challenging, but it gave us the opportunity to create shifts in elevation and meandering, tree-lined walkways that open up gradually to reveal spectacular views."
This sense of discovery extends to the entry, which is through a gate beside a stand-alone guest house.
"You don't see the front door of the main house immediately," says the architect. "You need to discover it by walking down the steps, alongside a koi pond and around past a small courtyard and loggia. The house reveals itself gradually, partly because it is not a monolithic structure, but rather a composition of smaller masses and tower elements."
To ensure authenticity, many of the building materials were imported from Europe, including the antique terra cotta tile roofing that comes from an old convent, and reclaimed bricks, which feature on chimneys and barrel ceilings. The rest of the exterior is clad in a smooth stucco and a highly textured rubble stone, which was sourced locally. This stone reappears on a double-height wall within the entry foyer.
On the interior, the surprises continue. Each room has its own character, with the structure of the house expressed through exposed beams and rafters and traditional barrel ceilings.
"Essentially, the architecture detailing is simple, in keeping with the rural Italian farmhouse aesthetic," says Landry. "There are no ornate mouldings, for example. The visual excitement comes from the antique building materials and the furnishings, which were sourced by interior designer Craig Wright."
The library features walnut millwork and a refurbished antique coffered ceiling that once graced a Venetian palazzo. There is also a secret room, behind a hidden door on the second floor. Equally dramatic, this room has a sweeping canopy and glittering sailing ship chandelier.
The fireplace in the library, as with all the fireplaces, features an antique stone surround imported from Europe.
To reinforce the sense of a traditional rural Italian building, the kitchen appears to sit within a lean-to. A large skylight along the ridgeline provides plenty of natural light, as does the adjacent breakfast room. With glass walls and a glass ceiling, and palm trees in planters, this room resembles a greenhouse.
Rooms on the first floor have a seamless flow to the outdoors, with several rooms opening directly onto loggias. The largest loggia, off the living room, appears to protrude out into the pool, and affords a spectacular view of the city and ocean beyond. The antique brick ceiling in this loggia comprises four groin vaults separated by overscale wood beams.
"This project was never about designing a house to look new," says Landry. "It was all about character and rustic charm – the house needed to look as though it had been there forever. And this applies to the landscaping as well. Already, the trees and creepers have taken root and are visually softening the architecture, enhancing the authenticity."
Antique terra cotta roof tiles, rubble stone walls and a tower-style chimney enhance the rustic Italian charm of this guest house. The building, and the gate at left, mark the entry to a clifftop property designed by architect Richard Landry.
Richard Landry, Landry Design Group (Los Angeles)
Kitchen cabinet company
Sweetwater rubble stone with antique brick
Bristolite bronze anodized
Hand-scraped walnut; Jerusalem stone pavers
Antique Venetian wood in library; antique brick in dining room, loggias and entry; teak in Wintergarden breakfast room
Story by Colleen Hawkes
Photography by Erhard Pfeiffer