California feeling

A dramatic Frank Lloyd Wright-style interior takes on quite a different character with close attention to tone and touch
Close up view of the lounge suit in chair, couch, furniture, home, interior design, living room, loveseat, room, suite, table, wall, orange
Close up view of the lounge suit in the master bedroom, cream seats and ottoman, white walls, cream carpet, fireplace, two white lamps, pot plants, artwork.

An upscale house may be built from substantial materials, along strong architectural lines, and still be subtle. Colour, finishes, furnishings, and even material flourishes can emphasise design lines, or allow them to recede.

This large house was created by architects Jung-Brannen in response to the clients' appreciation of the architecture of the great American architect Frank Lloyd Wright. In keeping with Lloyd Wright's trademark strong, organic feel, the interior was designed with extensive wooden detailing, within capacious, simple settings.

However, getting the right feel for a home can be an evolving process. Upon returning from a stay at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, the owners asked interior designers Bierly-Drake Associates to rethink the new home's emphasis. Chris Drake oversaw the project.

"The owners were effusive about the famous hotel's interior, and we were asked to redirect the interior towards that look, which is the epitome of Californian decor airy and light, with an emphasis on texture," says Drake. "Addressing the extensive woodwork played an important part in the fit-out. Leaving the details in natural wood would have created a dark, masculine decor."

Drake's response was to retain the intricate detailing of the original interior, but paint it white. This preserved the delicacy of the fretwork and at the same time avoided a heavier, wood look.

View of the master bedroom, cream walls, large ceiling, estate, home, interior design, living room, real estate, room, suite, window, window covering, window treatment, brown
View of the master bedroom, cream walls, large square windows, carpet, large cream bed with cream linen, plants, wooden side tables, lamps, wooden table and two antique white seats with cushions, large white fancy curtains, wooden walls and ceiling, cream seats and ottoman.

"To follow the light, white Californian feel, the entire interior of the home is painted in a soft cream," says Drake. "In a sense, painting the intricate woodwork to blend with other surfaces gave it almost a textural appeal, again in keeping with the Californian style."

The interior's ivory tones provide a suitable backdrop for an array of subtle and exotic textures that further the Californian-style decor.

The furniture itself is in similar cream tones. Material treatments range from ivory-coloured Chanel fabrics through to Thai silk. The formal drapery is in a combination of Italian damask and Chinese antique velvet.

A Californian style of interior is also signalled by exotic Eastern touches, such as black lacquered pieces, inset with gold leaf.

Texture, intricacy of finish and ivory tones run throughout the house. In the dining area, an antique Venetian glass chandelier hangs over a bleached satin wood dining table, with silver leaf inlay. The dining chairs are upholstered in an ivory-hued leather.

View of the hallway and dining area, tiled ceiling, column, dining room, door, estate, floor, flooring, hardwood, home, interior design, living room, lobby, real estate, room, window, wood, wood flooring, brown
View of the hallway and dining area, tiled floor, cream wooden collumns, large square windows, wooden ceiling, large white dining suite, large chandelier mounted form the ceiling above the dining suite, plants, artwork.

Away from the custom wool and silk Stark carpet which adorns the living room floor, much of the ground floor is finished in French limestone another Californian influence. This is inset with a brown Emerador marble, for added visual interest. The strips of marble inlay also echo the shapes of the detailing on adjacent pillars. Bleached maple flooring sits alongside the limestone.

Upstairs, the pre-eminence of luxurious materials and textures is continued in the master bedroom. The bed itself, with scrolled headboard and feet, was designed by Syrie Maugham, the wife of author Somerset Maugham. An ivory-toned ottoman is covered in a Ralph Lauren cashmere fabric fashion fabric reinvented here as upholstery.

Elliptical woodwork provides a defining element between the master bedroom and the sun room. This subtle curved element is repeated in various areas, including the living room and bathroom.

Finished in marble, with a palette of white, grey and silver, the bathroom has a steam room, sauna and spa bath, and has the feel of a health spa.

"The owners regularly entertain and hold charity events in the home," says Drake. "Even with the fine materials and finishes running throughout, this house is built to be lived in."

Nov 24, 2006

Credit list

Interior designer
Christopher Drake, ASID, Bierly-Drake Associates (Boston)
Stark Carpet; French limestone; bleached, pickled, white oak
Table and chairs from J Robert Scott Furniture
Dining room
Table and chairs from J Robert Scott Furniture; chandelier by Karl Springer
Master bathroom
Marble surfaces; taps from Waterworks; bathtub and sink by Billy Brenner
Jung-Brannen Associates
Halo Lighting
Upholstery by McLaughlin Upholstery; fireplace, custom design in French limestone
Master bedroom
Upholstery by McLaughlin Upholstery; bed by McLaughlin Upholstery; lamps from John Boone; artwork by Raul Dufy
Pool room
Tiling from American Olean; furniture from McGuire
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