Friday, March 9, 2012
The Bloggers conference was a glorious excuse to visit L.A. at the end of February. Daughter number 2 and I arrived early to see some of our favorite haunts. The highlight was visiting Hutton and Ruth Wilkinson's new masterful Hollywood Regency Palazzo, Casa Contessa. It is next door to Tony Duquette's iconic Dawn Ridge which Hutton uses as a design studio for his fabulous jewels and his HSN reproductions.
The railings are exquisite.
The dramatic entry hall with shimmering floors, mirrors and jewel tone colors transports us into Hutton's exotic fantasy, which he jokingly calls his attempt at minimalism. The lighting schemes are pure genius belying his theatrical background with Duquette, his business partner of many years, who passed in 1999.
The house soars and opens upon itself. Looking down from the entrance hall over the living room, we glimpse the sitting room and its occupants. Gold leaf inset panels glow in the afternoon California sunshine. Contrasting antique chinoiserie vases and accessories punctuate the space, creating rhythm and balance throughout. Royal animal patterns repeat throughout this pasha's lair. But... I certainly don't want to leave out the Contessa, Ruth, Hutton's wife and collaborator of 35 years. She keeps the wheels from falling off of a madly creative operation.
From the outside looking in, the bloggerati mingle over tea and nibbles honoring Ronda Carman. The shimmering black marble floors extend to the infinity edge pool cascading down into an Indonesian fantasy garden with multiple levels of pavilions, terraces, sculpture and follies.
At the bottom of the little valley on the property, is an enchanting signature coral and malachite refuge. At first, Hutton only had one set of the three door openings, but they were wide enough to split, so he could terrace a two story folly into the hillside.
Hutton's Koi are very spoiled and don't like to forage, so he is giving them their afternoon tea.
Looking up from the pond at Dawnridge
A Tony Duquette sculpture.
Tony Duquette endured several fires to his warehouse and ranch, so a great motif within his work was the phoenix egg rising from the flames, in this case the double entendre of angel wings as sun rays. The Europeans were so enamored by Duquette, he was the first American to give a solo exhibit at the Louvre.
Wisteria colored glass cascades down from the trees, in a "More is More"
Tony Duquette nod. It is all fantasy, baroque and a never ending canvas of beauty.
A profound blackamoor bust frowns in the jungle, giving us pause and contrast with his eternal travails. Blackamoor's were highly popularized by Frances Elkins who defined the Hollywood regency aesthetic with Tony Duquette, Elsie de Wolfe aka--the Lady Mendl, Billy Haines and Dorothy Draper. Moving back into the house for our own tea, we take a lesson from the greatest living heir to this oeuvre.
I was struggling with the light for this photograph, and I will say Harper's Bazaar does greater justice to the most gorgeous home in Beverly Hills, if you ask little me. Hutton's Jim Thompson, Tony Duquette fabrics are knock out.
via Harper's Bazaar
The 4th Count and Countess Alastaya. Forget Downton Abbey, we really need a Hutton Wilkinson design series to capture his crackling repartee and creative energy. The Venetian paintings scattered throughout the house were purchased by Duquette in the 1940's from the Baroness Catherine D'Erlanger. I would like to go back in time and do a little shopping!
via Harper's Bazaar
Four fabulous blackamoors from the Dodie Rosekrantz estate guard the four corners of the main reception room. Click this link at your own peril, I've been savoring the swag for ages.
Close up detail of Atillio Codognato center piece with eight palm candlesticks. Note the chic black candles.
Hutton Wilkinson's Remains lighting fixtures are worth a visit, not to mention his Baker Furniture line. My next project is to paint my dining room chairs. The mural which extends up the entire 3 floors depicts The Wilkinson's in Venice.
I wish I had taken a moment to peruse Hutton and Ruth's book shelves.
via Harper's Baazar
A sumptuous bed worthy of a Count and Countess.
Back downstairs again, this is an intimate sitting room, at the end of the entrance hall, flanking the great room directly opposite the dining room. Wilkinson keeps the house harmonious and open using repetitive elements in color, pattern and art. Note, this is the same sofa as he uses in the main reception room. And last but not least, here is a glimpse at Casa Conti, where I stayed for one glorious night.
I envied myself
The good news is that you can rent it!
All the paintings are by Elizabeth Duquette
If you would like to purchase any of
Hutton Wilkinson for Tony Duquette
Please Call Us at:
Thank You Hutton and Ruth for your divine hospitality
and introducing me to the Sunset Tower Hotel's truffled
macaroni and cheese!