You could say that great architecture is like a haute couture garment—both are painstakingly crafted to suit those who commission them. But what happens when a tailor-made home is sold to new owners who, though deeply appreciative of the original, have a different lifestyle? In the case of this modern Beverly Hills manse perched high on a hill, a few thoughtful alterations made it just right for its current inhabitants.
The new residents tapped designer Ryan Gordon Jackson, who had previously worked with them on other projects. “The house was originally built by Trevor Abramson in the 1990s for a family with kids,” Jackson notes. The current owners are a couple who are avid cooks and entertainers, so the home was reworked with that in mind. But also critical was making the most of the home’s stunning location and the vistas its site affords. “The house is beautifully placed,” says Jackson. “And we saw a few opportunities to tweak the plan to better serve the views.”
Those tweaks consisted of taking down walls to create an open floor plan realigned for maximum enjoyment of the scenery and outdoor areas. For example, the main level—which was once divided into several rooms—is now home to a large space containing the living and dining areas. “Before, you walked through the front door and into a narrow hall,” says Jackson. “Now, with those walls removed, the view is center stage.” A similar tactic was employed on the master bedroom level, where rooms were combined and rearranged to create a large bedroom, his and hers bathrooms, and a trio of closets.
Perhaps the most significant change is on the lower level, where outdoor spaces bookend a new family room and kitchen. Before the remodel, the family room was located on a mezzanine, and a second sitting room was a few steps below that. The kitchen was on the main floor, where the living room is now. To (quite literally) level the playing field, Jackson oversaw the excavation of the bottom floor to allow the family and sitting areas to become one and sit side-by-side with the kitchen. “For these clients, this move was a game-changer—it allows the kitchen to be treated as part of the family room,” says the designer. “And there is a lovely flow between the new spaces, both indoors and out.”
But optimizing the rooms for his clients was just half of the story. As Jackson says, “The interior remodel was akin to preparing a blank canvas that would allow a curated collection to come forward.” His clients have a penchant for interesting objects, and it was decided the designer should take his time to scour showrooms, galleries and auctions for rare, unique items. “They told me they were in no rush,” the designer says. “It was a thrilling opportunity—getting the right pieces was more important than the time it took to find them.”
Jackson used that luxury of time to create a collection of special objects that “look amazing together.” Case in point, the living room features an Art Deco-inspired sofa, a pair of 1940s French Deco chairs and a Lunario coffee table by Cini Boeri for Knoll, signed 1970. “What makes the diversity of pieces work is a committed color palette of lavender, blue and platinum,” he says. “And by using a collection of colorful, European pieces, we’ve made an interior that’s interesting and layered.”
Creating balance, the designer played off what he calls the masculinity of the architecture with what could be considered more feminine elements—objects possessing fluid lines and complex hues. “The decor has a femininity about it. The strength of the architecture and the mix of styles and eras create a delicate balance,” he explains. The concept is on display in the master bedroom, which, in a departure from the white walls in most of the home, is done in a textured, tawny-colored plaster wallcovering. The bed, crafted with upholstery that glows with a soft sheen and is dressed with velvet pillows and a woolly blanket, could be called high-style hygge. The softer elements are combined with strong-lined furniture, creating a pleasing juxtaposition. “Pleasing” is the operative word because, as the designer points out, “this is a place of respite and retreat.”
It’s the complex dichotomy throughout that the clients appreciate. “The evening we saw our home completed was magical,” says the wife. “Ryan really understands who we are and our eclectic style.”