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<< Back to Home & Style, January 2014

King of the Hills

Katherine Kims

In the Hollywood Hills, high above Los Angeles’s Sunset Strip, stands a modern house with a nondescript facade—a solid white block save for a single window. But step inside, and three years of meticulous renovations and interior design unfold in every line, seam, and corner of the home. The Los Angeles–based designer James Magni (who joined the project early on, after the death of the initial designer, Greg Jordan, of New York City) worked with the architect Brian Biglin, of the namesake firm in Calabasas, Calif., to create a sophisticated address for a young professional.

Inside the three-story, 4,300-square-foot house, the view—from Griffith Observatory to downtown—is king. Floor-to-ceiling doors—800-pound custom-designed fixtures—blur the lines between indoors and out, while frameless glass guardrails on the patio help maintain the sight lines. “The view is something that’s constantly changing; it’s kind of a living element,” says Magni. “It’s spectacular at night.”

The view sets the scene for formal entertaining in the living room, where lounge chairs from Alan Moss and wooden stools from New York’s Bernd Goeckler Antiques share the spotlight with sterling silver candlesticks and a black faceted vase from the Micucci Collection (see “Objects of Affection,” page 144) and a coffee table designed by Magni himself.

The Great Outdoors
The design team expanded the home’s living space, adding some 2,700 square feet of terraces and an infinity-edge plunge pool, which is located on the first-floor patio off the office. “With a lot of projects, you tend to stop at the window, and here the client allowed us to go beyond that,” says Biglin.

Other additions included the Jacuzzi, which is an extension of the pool on the home’s first-level terrace, and a vertical garden planted along the edge of the hill. The tall bamboos that flank the house enhance the sense of being surrounded by nature. “Living in Southern California, we have the ability to be outdoors all the time,” says Magni, “and these expansive terraces are wonderful spaces to enjoy at dusk or morning.”

For the homeowner’s enjoyment, Magni chose patio furniture from Paola Lenti. The Italian designer’s chic pale gray pieces grace each of the terraces, sharing the outdoor spaces with dark palm wood chairs from Charles Jacobsen and wooden stump side tables from Design around Objects (DAO). Inside, “we mixed something very white and machined with something that’s very raw and natural, to bring the outside in,” explains Magni, who used his own limited-edition Amsterdam chair of bronze “branches” in the foyer to bring the nature theme indoors. 

A Man’s World
The homeowner can work and unwind on the home’s lower floor, in the office and the bar lounge. The office desk (right, background) features custom millwork that also appears in the walled cabinetry, providing a warm backdrop for the midcentury furniture. Two vintage Italian 1950s art moderne lounge chairs (right, foreground) flank a walnut-topped Platner side table and Cedric Hartman reading lamp. Whereas the office is subdued, with dark wood and classic pieces, the bar lounge (below) is all play. The glamorous and bright space boasts a sexy centerpiece: the bar itself. The stunning onyx design literally glows thanks to 10,000 internal LEDs. White Italian leather bar stools line the bar, while triple-bleached sycamore wood lines the cabinetry against the wall. The billiard table was custom built to reflect the modern, sophisticated taste of the home. Glass doors slide open to an outdoor seating area, allowing the homeowner and his guests to take in the L.A. skyline.

Less Is More
To address the challenge of the tight spaces and compact rooms in the three-bedroom home, the team pared down the design elements. “It’s easy to do big; it’s not easy to do small that looks big and open, which is much more labor-intensive,” says Magni. “There was a lot of editing out visual chatter and getting down to the essence of what the house is functionally and aesthetically.”

The office’s sitting area and the master bedroom exemplify this design approach. Wrapped from wall to wall and floor to ceiling in dark mahogany wood, the soothing bedroom includes a pair of cream-colored Vladimir Kagan rocking chairs and a Magni Home Collection woven leather bench. The copper-colored silk rug from Mansour Modern adds just the right texture and sheen.

And just beyond the master’s glass walls, L.A. shines. Says Magni, “I imagine [the homeowner] reading a book here, taking a call on the private deck, or sitting in the rocking chairs and enjoying the view.”

Magni Design, 310.623.1623, www.magnidesign.com; Biglin Architectural Group, 818.225.2202, www.biglingroup.com

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