You might not think that Los Angeles, sometimes called the city of the future, would be a prime house-hunting ground for someone like Amy Savagian, steeped as she is in the traditional aesthetic of her Southern childhood. Sure enough, it took a good two years for her to find the early 1920s-era home on three-quarters of an acre in the city’s historic Hancock Park, much better suited to raising a family than the Savagians’ former Brentwood house with its tiny, child-unfriendly yard.
Jennifer Davis, the designer who worked with Savagian on much of the new home’s interior, credits Amy’s mother, also a client, with influencing her embrace of classic style and “desire for the traditional, formal, elegant bones and structure of the house,” says Davis. “At the same time, it needed to be relaxed enough for a young and growing family, one that people can live in and walk in and sit on sofas in. We really wanted a mix of antiques as well as reproductions, because they’re built for today’s lifestyle.”
In the living room, for example, Davis selected an Italian settee from Dennis & Leen that incorporates the classic lines of a turn-of-the- century piece with the comfort of a larger-scale reproduction, designed to accommodate modern-day bodies. A Victoria Hagan chair updates a traditional wing chair with cleaner but still understated lines. Davis also freshened the light-filled living room with pale, neutral hues and a sisal rug from Decorative Carpets. “I wanted to be authentic to the house, and to the client’s directive of having a traditional feel, but I also wanted it to feel young and fresh,” she says.
Of course, what exactly is authentic to the house is something of a mystery, since it has undergone several remodels over the years. When the Savagians discovered the home, “it looked like a pseudo-Mediterranean tract house,” says builder-designer Brian Little, who helped the family gut the house, replace antiquated electrical and plumbing systems, and rebuild with a new façade, molding, pool and guesthouse, and a tweaked floor plan. One such tweak involved carving a spacious master bedroom closet out of the attic. Savagian, an internal medicine resident married to an investment banker, says the addition was occasioned by a visit to a friend’s remodel. “I had three times as many clothes and she had a larger closet,” she says. “Really, the only place to go was up.”
The home’s transformation from a California casa to a villa easily suited to the south of France was inspired by the pitch of the roof. “It seemed French in nature, so a simple French manor was born of that,” Little says. The façade was cloaked in understated gray with a roof crafted from three coordinating shades of slate. The formal front garden is planted with the quintessentially European silhouettes of topiary and cypress and olive trees.
Indeed, for the busy young family, which includes three children ranging in age from 2 to 9, the outdoors are as important as the indoors. So Little designed a backyard with rolling lawns and a pool large enough for the kids to swim laps. Inspired by the Beverly Hills Hotel, he also designed a sophisticated poolside cabana/outdoor living room, where one can watch TV shielded from the rays of the sun. All of the elegant spaces are part of the Savagians’ long-term plan; they have no intention of leaving the home anytime soon.
“We wanted to create a big central lawn where, eventually, their kids can get married,” says Little.