Monday, March 2, 2015

Hollyhock House

Terrace entrance view of Hollyhock House
This past President's Day weekend marked the reopening of Frank Lloyd Wright's Hollyhock house after an extensive 4.4 million dollar restoration. This iconic house, designed by Wright, was commissioned by oil heiress Aline Barnsdall.  Overlooking the Hollywood hills, the house was part of an arts complex that Barnsdall never occupied, although she did live in another residence on the property.  Read more of the history of the property at the Hollyhock House website here.

Staff designer Leslie Warren was in the area and was lucky enough to catch a tour on the second day the home opened to the public.  Although no photography was allowed inside the home, she managed to snap a few from the grounds and spent about 40 minutes inside.  The following are her thoughts on the experience.
Original light post

The Hollyhock House was so named for the favorite flower of Barnsdall and Wright used it everywhere.  I first noticed it on the Arts and Crafts lamp post on the grounds.  It is on every side of the exterior, so the house looks a bit like a Mayan temple. 

I glimpsed a bit more Mayan influence in the outdoor stairs to a roof top terrace (top left corner of roof line) as I was taking pictures. 

Bronze windows adorn the main entry side of the house

Detail of Hollyhock House motif

I was struck by how many design features in the house, built in the early 1920's, are still used to this day.  Wright liked to blur the lines between the indoors and nature.  The wall of windows slide open, leading to a ground level terrace, a Wright innovation.  The great room has multiple functions as a place to entertain or relax, as well as several desks built right into the sofas.

My jaw literally dropped when I saw the block fireplace with Mayan symbols etched in the surface. There was a trench in front of the hearth which I learned from the guide was a moat that began in the gardens outside, an idea sprung from working in Japan. It was never very functional so the plumbing wasn't restored.

A mix of styles continued throughout. Although the Arts and Crafts architecture is prevalent, Wright was influenced by Japanese design and decoration.  There are beautiful Japanese screens flanking the doors to the terrace.

The stylized hollyhocks also adorn the fireplace as well as the backs of the dining chairs, which thankfully were safely stored for decades and were some of the few original furnishings in the house. 

I met plenty of fellow Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts on this 2nd day of tours open to the public but we got there early and were the first group allowed in after our 1 1/2 hour wait.

Touring this house reminded me of the lovely home of my client Heidi Nebeker.  She built an Arts and Crafts house seven years ago that looks like it's been on the site for years.  She recently needed some of her pieces reupholstered and several window treatments replaced.  I loved using  reproduction textiles to fit the architecture of her home but Heidi also likes a bit of a twist now and then to keep the rooms from getting too serious.

The chaise makes a cozy reading spot on a winter day
This mohair sofa got a makeover using reproduction Arts and Crafts textiles
An abundance of original art compliments the period furnishings

A peek behind the built in bookcase reveals the master bedroom
Heavy drapes were replaced with linen roman shades and embroidered sheers

Vintage lighting through out the house sheds a lovely amber light
We had to have her Liberty Arts and Crafts dining chairs completely taken apart and rebuilt. They are now ready for use for the next 50 years. The fabric on the seats is a Tiffany glass motif so every chair has a different part of the pattern. 

A corner dedicated to music in the downstairs family room

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