To begin with, the space was just a promise atop an as-yet-to-be-built skyscraper on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. Stanley and Trena Greitzer, the former involved in real estate and the latter in philanthropic causes, have two other homes, so the allure of this one, with its high security and full-service staff, says Trena, “was that we could just shut the door and go.”
Of course, they needed a door first. So they hired their daughter, Portland, Oregon-based architect Bonnie Barg, to craft a floor plan and collaborate closely with their designers, Mark Enos and Carmen Reese, of Enos Reese + Co. in LA. The goal was a home at once open and intimate, with a flowing floor plan that maximized its 180-degree views. Their one constraint: the building’s HVAC systems and plumbing had to be accommodated by the design. “Because it’s the penthouse, there were services that terminated in the unit,” explains construction manager Lori Appel Staff, of LA-based LAS Management. “We’d open up ceilings and walls and there would be giant pipes in our way.”
Once the shell was built, however, the team began in earnest to craft the home it would hold. In addition to the glorious views, the space offered incredibly high ceilings that allowed the designers to play with proportion. Smaller spaces, like entryways and halls, were given nine-foot heights, while the grand, oversized living and dining rooms were gifted with soaring 12-foot-high ceilings. “If we’d done the standard eight feet, the rooms would have looked like sandwiches,” says Enos.
The ceilings themselves are works of art, with dramatic domes, coves and recesses that work with the décor to make each space feel completely unique. “Other than where we created new walls to define rooms, the ceilings provided a major opportunity to create something architecturally special,” says Barg.
Another thing remarkably special about this condominium is that it doesn’t feel condo-like at all. “They wanted as residential a feel as they could get in a high-rise,” says Reese. “It’s their house, but up in the sky.” The overall look, says Enos, is appealingly eclectic. The chandelier in the living room, for instance, has been displayed in three of the Greitzers’ previous homes. “That traditional chandelier in a modern room, that’s what it’s all about,” Reese says. “It’s how you achieve warmth in what could be a cold space.” Warmth was also added with wooden paneling and a mix of antiques and reproductions, for a style Trena calls “Asian-influenced elegance.”
Enos and Reese spotlighted the couple’s extensive collection of modern art and Chinese pottery, which they’d gathered in their travels over the years. “It’s sometimes difficult to design a house full of objects that still ‘breathes,’” says Enos. “Collections need to have space and they need to be organized, obsessively.” The breath in this case came from those sweeping heights and dimensions, and the organization from the custom built-ins found in the living room, den and gallery.
“Blue is my color,” says Trena, so accents call out from around the house, such as a cobalt Viennese plaster wall in the dining room and a hand-painted bright blue wallpaper in the anteroom. They draw out the blues in the porcelain and the artwork, pieces that had to be both displayed and protected.
“When you’ve got artwork that you’re trying to keep from fading, it’s critical to have complete sun control,” says Enos. So while the homeowners wanted to maintain the spectacular views, they also knew they’d need to soften them on occasion. “The windows can be very glary,” admits Enos, who added a three-tiered shade-and-sheer system as a solution.
When the sun finally set on the project, the Greitzers were thrilled, not just with their house, but with their experience working with the team. The feeling was mutual. “This was one of the more challenging projects I’ve worked on, but only because of physical constraints,” says Barg. “My parents were my easiest clients!”