Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Jenni Kayne's Family-Friendly Los Angeles Home

The rallying cries of the early 20th century’s architectural revolution—“Form follows function!” “Ornament is crime!”—helped cement the popular belief that the International Style and its progeny were intrinsically cold and rigid. That prejudicial view persists to this day, perhaps because too few experiments in the softer side of modernism have offered persuasive arguments to the contrary. The Los Angeles home of fashion designer Jenni Kayne and real-estate agent Richard Ehrlich is an emphatic exception. With its crisp white walls and generous expanses of wood and stone, the house provides convincing proof that clean lines and spare details can be marshaled in the service of comfort and warmth.
Kayne and Ehrlich purchased the property, a five-bedroom residence in Beverly Hills, six years ago. Enticed by its scale and proportions, they undertook a gut renovation to erase problematic details that loudly proclaimed the structure’s early-1980s vintage, such as unnecessary 45-degree angles and overabundant stainless-steel accents. When the transformation stalled under the direction of their original designer-contractor team, the couple called upon Silvia Kuhle and Jeffrey Allsbrook of Standard, the architecture firm that had conceived Kayne’s first retail store in 2007.
 “We share a similar aesthetic and an appreciation for modern architecture that incorporates natural elements,” says Kayne, who launched her namesake line in 2003, establishing herself at the age of 19 as an original voice in the arena of women’s wear, with clothes that balance urban edginess and understated glamour. “I knew I wanted wood integrated, particularly on the ceilings. Jeff created a language that sewed the whole house together.”
That kind of architectural stitching is a hallmark of Standard’s work, as evidenced by the five-year-old Jenni Kayne flagship— a former warehouse in West Hollywood that now has the welcoming embrace of a classic California-modern dwelling— as well as a second boutique, in nearby Brentwood, which opened earlier this year. “I’m a stickler for uniting disparate materials in a convincing way that doesn’t feel strained or overwrought,” Allsbrook explains. “For Jenni and Richard’s home, I looked at old European houses and tried to figure out a compelling way to translate that feeling of substance to a contemporary construction in L.A. It couldn’t look like architectural appliqué.”

The project’s visual vocabulary and materials palette are introduced in the reimagined entry pavilion, previously a dark space with a low, pitched roof. The floors are now paved with vein-cut travertine. The ceiling is clad in pine siding salvaged from a 19th-century Pennsylvania barn, and the windows, clerestories, and glass doors are all framed in hand-hewn oak beams from the same source. The latter treatments are repeated in the adjacent living room, which is centered on an indoor-outdoor fireplace of board-formed concrete that makes a textural nod to the rough timber. “The wood gives the house such character,” Kayne notes. “The rooms have real depth, but there’s nothing fussy about them.”

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