If all the world’s a stage, a couple’s recently completed home in Brentwood is one of its finest sets. The residence’s East Coast-inspired design blends the casual elegance of the Hamptons with a modern flair and a sprinkling of glamour. These distinctive sensibilities come swirling together to create a look that designer Adam Hunter characterizes as “Ralph Lauren meets Shutters on the Beach hotel meets a little Manhattan luxe.”
There’s a touch of the theatrical in Hunter’s description—and in his interiors—likely born of the years he spent working as a Broadway actor. After a decade of starring in such shows as Les Misérables, The Lion King and Ragtime, Hunter switched careers, and coasts, and has since cultivated a knack for incorporating just the right dramatic touches within tailored yet inviting interiors.
That talent shines through in his clients’ home, which Hunter worked on with architect Steve Giannetti and builder Roy Abbott. The residence was approached with a stylistic blend, beginning with the architecture. “We used key elements you’d consider modern—like fewer interior walls and an indoor-outdoor cohesion—and combined them with classically correct details: the paneling, trim, columns, and cornices,” Giannetti says. “When you use those elements correctly, the whole house feels right.”
Ample light also adds to the feel-good factor. Giannetti designed the home so that sunlight shines into most of the rooms from two sides, and he bordered the structure with several East Coast-inspired porches. By adding skylights where the porch ceilings meet the structure, the architect allowed additional light to flood the spaces.
The glow illuminates interiors that make good use of sleek-but-comfy furnishings. Because the owners were on the fence between modern and traditional, Hunter “kept everything clean-lined and texture-heavy.” The designer selected “anchoring” pieces first, such as the custom cocktail table in the living room and an imposing canopy bed in the master bedroom, and built the rooms around them. Sexy textures and a few glamorous details pop against a fairly neutral palette. “The owners were shy about color,” Hunter says, “so I compensated with sparkle, texture or sheen.”
Examples of this approach surface throughout, from the dining room’s mirrored beveled-glass wainscoting to the gleaming Bisazza tiles that surround the fireplace in the pool house. In the master bedroom, Hunter wrapped the walls with Studio E’s Venetian plaster wallpaper, which is hand-painted to look like wood for a subtle shimmery effect.
Even the walnut floors gleam ever so slightly because they were stained a shade softer than black and cerused with silver. “This house changes in the light,” notes Abbott, who carried out its meticulous construction. “You notice different unique elements depending on the time of day.”
For warmth, Hunter brought in muted tones of gray, blue and green. “They’re colors people love because they see them every day in the sky and the land,” he says. In the study, the designer created a modern riff on a British clubroom by centering four leather chairs within walls sheathed with custom-dyed leather in a striking shade of blue. Similarly, he warmed up the kitchen—and avoided creating a predictable white space—by painting the cabinetry dove gray and then crowning it with a custom black hood he designed with Giannetti.
Outside, landscape designer Christine London took her cues from the home’s blended design. “As the interiors moved toward a modern feel, we brought a contemporary lean to the gardens,” explains London. “They complement the traditional architecture.” For the front entrance, for instance, London created rectangular grass “courtyards” and then softened an angular water feature with Equisetum grasses.
It’s a fitting opening act for a home that reveals itself over time, in details that are both dazzling and thoughtful—like the best performance. “I heard someone describe my work here as ‘restrained drama,’” says Hunter, adding, “The house feels warm and approachable even on its grand scale.”
—Hilary Masell Oswald