California Homes Spring 1998 cover image

A Playful Palette Revamps a Brentwood Home

The property seemed perfect for their growing family, so Claudia and Kevin Bright decided to take a chance on the big, dark, ugly Tudor house at the end of a long, private drive. “It wasn’t at all to our taste, but it had privacy and all the rooms we needed, including a playroom for our twin sons. We could see the ocean and Catalina from the balcony off the master bedroom,” Claudia remembered. “We saw the potential in this house.” 

Thus began a two-year process that banished all traces of dark brick and wood. Outside, architect Richard L. Blumenberg completely transformed the house into a welcoming Tuscan villa, clothed in warm yellow stucco with vibrant blue shutters and set in attractive new landscaping. Inside, Lisa Killian Jackson of LKJ Interiors used a riot of inventive color to endow every room with a different mood, full of warmth and good cheer. “My husband calls this ‘the happy house,” said Claudia. “It’s very inviting, both outside and in.” 

The Brights—Kevin is a television producer of shows such as Friends, Veronica’s Closet and Dream On, and Claudia is a graduate student in speech pathology—had seen and loved a colleague’s home by Jackson, and asked the designer to help them express their own playful, contemporary taste. For Jackson, the raw material of the house was quite a challenge. “The living room was all turquoise blue and pink, with a parquet floor and heavy, distressed beams in the ceiling,” recalled the designer. “It was really horrible.” 

“We started with heaps of fabric, making piles of what we loved and hated,” said Claudia. “My husband and I found we were drawn to color.” Jackson and the Brights decided the solution would be to “make it light and pull in color,” a different color in every room to evoke a different emotion. The resulting moods are as varied as the rooms themselves; the living room is sophisticated, the dining room romantic, the master bedroom gentle and relaxing, the family room warm and colorful and fun. 

Elements carry over as you move from room, integrating the overall design of the home but reserving surprises around every corner. The living room is on two levels, incorporating the former dining room. A hand-applied faux finish brings the color of the stripped maple floor into the muted chartreuse wall, gradually feathering until it disappears, like water creeping up an ancient wall. The upper level, a music room, has a meditative quality, composed of the piano, two chaises by Donghia, Fortuny lighting and striking photographs of nature by Thomas Baril. The more conversational area below is enlivened by a splash of color—a vivid blue wall tower of books, and boldly striped Clarence House fabric on Donghia sofas with exaggerated curves. Custom-made, washed Tibetan rugs are from Stark. An authentic industrial metal cart and metal cabinet play off the elegant fabrics and furniture.

Whimsical charm predominates in the former billiard room, now the dining room. Painter Dominique Sardell created an aged, funky hue of purple, Claudia’s favorite color, for the wood paneling, and the walls are plastered, layered with wax and scrubbed to a buttery-soft finish, a French process. A delicate, lively chandelier by Agnes Bourne illuminates “clock chairs” designed by Jackson in collaboration with Michael Berman and incorporating real, antique pocket clocks into upholstery of Clarence House damask. The mantel and hearth were refaced with soft, blue marble sparkled with gold and mica, and decorated with a family heirloom mirror and teapots from Claudia’s collection.

In the jewel-like powder room, “because the house was so colorful, we made the walls all white except a little niche with an aged red,” explained Jackson. “The floor is blue concrete, and we floated a piece of dark blue glass as a countertop, and set an old, French terra-cotta bowl on the top.”

The electric blue family room answers the call of the wild. It’s designed specifically to withstand the depredations of 6-year-old twins Justin and Zachary. “They wanted it colorful and funky, something that could handle two very active boys,” said Jackson. “It took five months to find the painted cotton by Designers Guild for the sofa; it’s very colorful, and can take a lot of abuse. “A tripod camera was made into a lamp, and artist Heidi Wianecki made a table to stand between the chaises out of croquet balls, bottle tops, and a Monopoly board that had belonged to Kevin’s grandmother. An antique French Maurin Quina poster leans casually on the mantel. The chaises, by Holly Hunt, and the red rocking chair, a custom version of a Donghia chair, are covered in durable Novasuede.

Tranquillity is restored in the soft, relaxing master bedroom, which is almost completely white, an oasis of serenity in a high-energy house. Leaves from the outdoors were silver-leafed, glazed and scattered around the walls, which are rubbed plaster and wax as in the dining room. The custom designed four-poster has finials made from antique crystal doorknobs, and the crystal chandelier is also an antique. A flower photograph by Robert Mapplethorpe hangs over the mantel. The sheer, white drapery is very simple, very light, and the custom rug by Stark is of chenille. 

The Brights are thrilled with the results of their long and often disruptive remodel they moved in early and lived in the midst of construction for four months. “I was thinking, ‘Are we going to love this house after a while? No way.’ Then we left the dirty, dusty interior and went on a family vacation,” Claudia recalled. 

Jackson finished the house down to the last detail to surprise the family on their return. “Lisa sent a limo to pick us up at the airport. When we walked in, all the lights were on. A disk was playing in the piano. There was food in the kitchen. Suddenly, we saw it all come together. My son Justin said, This is cool!”

By Julie Goodman. Photography by David Glomb
Originally published in California Homes.

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The Agulneks, RLB client

“Richard Blumenberg is such a talented architect; I hardly know where to begin. Richard completely designed and rebuilt our home. We never interviewed any other architects.

— Holley and Bob Agulnek

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RLB Architecture is a high-end architecture and design firm that provides custom design, planning, drafting, and construction administration services for projects in the Pacific Palisades, Brentwood, Beverly Hills, Bel Air, Malibu, Santa Monica, and other Westside communities. Richard L. Blumenberg is the proprietor.

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15200 Sunset Bl, #201
Pacific Palisades, CA 90272
(310) 459-0244
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