Monday, May 3, 2010

Venice Garden and Home Tour May 2010 - Part 2

OK, so did that work for you?  Here's more of last Saturday's garden and home tour in Venice.  I have to say up front, I was really kind of surprised that the homeowners allowed as much photography as they did.  Obviously some houses restricted access to certain parts, and some allowed photography only of exterior areas.  But generally they were very generous and welcoming.  Obviously any kind of publicity is good if you're interested in selling your work and ideas, so I am here to do my part in helping any of the talented and original people associated with these houses.  All in all there were about 30 to visit.  Some very modest as this one just below and some of them pulled out ALL THE STOPS. As you will see.

This home was a snug bungalow with artists' studios at the back.  The front house was actually available for short term rent.  I'll see if I can dig up the link for you.  Two bedrooms I think.  The star of the show was the garden and plantings as the owner is a bespoke florist.  The side path and rear court was a paradise of immaculate white pebbles planted with everything from irish moss in shallow pans to brussels sprouts and california poppies.  A gorgeous stephanotis was being trained up the side of the house.

This is what I thought was quite fun, creative, and a very personal statement.  Are you with me?  Yes!  They are!!!!  Drinks cups!

This house allowed no indoor photography.  It had been a "tear down" on purchase and was rebuilt in a "Tuscan Grange" kind of style with the "Great Room" at the front enjoying a practically 30 foot ceiling height barrel vaulted in silvery gray wood.  Probably oak?

I fell in love with the long hall of french doors on one side, with the "enfilade" of children's bedrooms and guest room on the other.

What is noticeable and instructive (and reminds you of the design quandaries we all address at home) is that in many of these newer houses, the ambitions of the architecture and landscaping do not ALWAYS sync with the existing furniture that the owners bring to these houses.  Or, the options available in the American market that do not always relate in scale to the spaces that the architects have designed.  Finally, some peoples' personal collections may not always stylistically integrate with the uncluttered volumes and lines of the structures.  This next house did NOT have ANY of those problems.

The structure makes an immediate statement from the street. The orange canopies against the blue sky are just gorgeous.   And reminds me how much the California landscape loves orange.  I'm remembering too all the suburban shelter magazines from the 70's that so lovingly adopted these oranges for year after year of California style living. The orange here does not look at all cheesy or dated or strip mall-ey.  It looks very classy and classic.  And reappears over and over.  Look at the dialogue it's having with the exterior panels.  (Raw steel like a Richard Serra?)

OK.  Walking in the front gate:  lap pool, anyone?  Sliding doors onto said pool from the library?  Foot dangling while perusing favorite design bibles??????  (Life is looking pretty good!)

Front of house:  that's some glass!!!!  Velour-ey canteloupe colored pebble pillows on the divan?  And who's that girl who walked into my photo to color-coordinate perfectly with the subtle yellow variations in the other cushions and vases on the coffee table?  Hubby?  Was this the house that had the movie screen that slid down the full length of the glass with the projector suspended from the ceiling?  Yes, I think it is!  (N.B., nice call preserving that massive sculptural tree out front).

There it is!  Yes I think that's the projector overhead.  Suspended above the clear tempered glass walkway.  Leave your miniskirts at home, girls.  More glass, more light.  Crying "uncle" anyone?  (Or "BUY, BUY!"?)

Back of House:  More massive glass attack.  Massive dining table in perfect harmony with the superscale all 'round. Looking straight onto outdoor seating area and groovy rear studios.  Clean visual but cool texture-y feel raw block walls.  Subtle subway tile allure (scaled UP!) but with tactile japanese/mid-century feel.  I wouldn't want to dust it. Kitchen not massive, but everything is there.  Including the mid-century (but NOT Mondrian-style primary) color block statements.  The of-the-moment massive marble counter top which totally worked with this paler island.  (Whereas elsewhere the two materials used throughout a kitchen did not add value to each other - i.e., both ended up looking cheesy.  Sorry!)  It helps that it cantilevers so daringly off the cabinet.  Butler's sink - check!  Cliche, but classic.  And I cannot tell you if those steel posts framing the stove area were structural but they make great magnet space for your family and travel pics!

Look how nicely that huge slab of white plays with that block wall behind!  (Totally working!) And the gleaming reflections off the stove's stainless steel backsplash.  Yes!  OK so did I love that house?  (And I am not REALLY a mid-century girl.)  Yes I did!  (You?)  And that was just one floor. There were one or two other floors, plus the aforementioned rear studios.  (Sigh!  Where do I sign up?) 

OK, NEXT:  This is the "Bricault House".  You can google it (add "Venice") and you will be able to find out ALL about it.  (There are more links than this post needs.)  You'll see more pictures of its very special details.  Some of them I thought were a bit much of a muchness.  Especially considering the house was sited between two homes that were, to be nice, "humble".  So this house was built for the love of ideas, and a great location (about 5 minutes to the beach) and not for great resale. The above is the master bedroom.  The young man is standing in front of the garage in the rear alley.  

Inner Courtyard:  Brugmansia, anyone?  Almost every house on the tour had to have a specimen plant.  This one is rocking its job.  Did you know that you can just stick a branch of this plant in the ground and presto-change-o (no really, more than your AVERAGE plant!) it will just.....GROW!

So three sides of vertical succulent plantings.  Inside view of aforementioned Master.  Juliet balcony overlooking courtyard and Brugmansia.  

Front of the house was more "usual" - you can say that after 30 houses, this was the last one.  But the back, so full of surprise after surprise.  Again.  Some of these things I could have done without, but that's just me.  (Since we're  talking 30 houses, my camera battery was packing up right about here, no matter how I pushed it.  So next couple of shots courtesy of Mr. Paradis and Apple).  But that inside there? That is not your mother's spiral staircase.

And here's where it leads.  For the top of your house, what do you think?  Something every house should have?  Makes some statement.  Or this?  (Below.)  Three sides of succulents and an alpine meadow on the roof?

If you are green, maybe more so.  And taking that concept even farther......right the way into "Urban Farming".  Artichokes and Swiss chard on your roof?  And why not?  Views of "just ordinary" Venice architecture beyond?

(Also courtesy of Mr. Paradis.)

OK so now.  This. Was  not on the tour.  Just a little postscript for you.  This is a multi-unit building.  Hubby and I thought it was stunning.  In kind of an industrial Euro-membrane style.  Feels like no part of it does not come wide open.  So delicate, like a fly's wing.  So ethereal, so transparent, like a maison de verre.  Peeking through the windows though, is that some robust interior earthquake bracing?!  Thinking looks like Japanese shoji doesnt' it?  Love the contrast between that fragility and the very grounded, solid, square shape.

Framed by massive twin palms.  Nice touch.  Do the ceilings just open right up too?!  Sorry about the unfortunate "bedspread".  (Moving day in the neighborhood.)

A funny side-story about this building is that it was built something like 3-5 inches in every dimension bigger than it was permitted at.  Someone has measured it and filed a complaint!!!!!!  Proceedings notice posted outside.  Watch this space.

So it's a marvelous world.  (Especially marvelous in LA.)  As a sendoff,  here's the garden of the designer who initiated this tour back in the day, Mr. Griffith.  He is someone who apparently likes to live and design large, he occupies a compound of bungalows on a corner surrounded with massive-scaled Hollywoodian garden spaces.  You can't see the bubble machine that he had going here but yes, those ARE purple and silver mirror mosaics mid-distance.  Sounds like he throws fabulous parties too.  So .....what about you?  Putting the garden tour on your calendar for next year? 

See you there!


  1. Thank you for the tour .. how did I miss this ... I was in Venice and I LOVE architecture???

  2. OK...this was even more spectacular MP.
    What a treat... now I couldn't even tell you what I liked most... was there a swimming pool alongside a library?
    ...that would interest me rather a lot!
    So what's going to be next?
    see ya...

  3. hum... between Paris and Tokyo, I would pick Tokyo... but that's just me writing from Paris...

  4. Laura - Yes I think you would have loved it! Next time!

    Sophie - Yes that WAS swimming pool alongside library, ALMOST as good as swimming pool outside painting studio!

    Kenza - You're not supposed to say that! Have we tired of la belle dame so soon? But obviously yes, I'm having a tough time deciding.

    Lily - You so totally busted me. I double-checked and strictly, an enfilade is a string of rooms lined up with one opening onto the other. Like at Versailles or Mme. de Sevigne's house. But hey! This is LA and not France!

  5. Thank you so much for sharing those gorgeous photos! I bet you've a fabulous time in Venice. I think I saw this place somewhere before! Anyway, I have some awards for you. Please feel free to pick them up. Have a great day!
    Blessings, Kristy

  6. Incredible! Such amazing homes you're showing us this week. :-)

  7. Whoa, that house with the orange canopies is so cool.

  8. Thanks for the virtual tour. My sister lives in Venice and I'm there a lot but it didn;t occur to me to do the home tour. Next year for sure.