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Italian-look exterior with Art Deco interiors and rustic poolhouse

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An Italianate exterior gives way to an Art Deco-style interior on this home by Richard Landry

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Often, it's sheer size or wealth of detail that give a house a commanding presence. However, a sense of individual charm can have a more lasting impact.

This grand home, set on a relatively modest 0.2ha site, is by architect Richard Landry, with interiors by designer Joan Behnke. The owners had wanted an Art Deco-style house, but neighbourhood design guidelines dictated an approved Italianate look. Landry's response was to include influences of both – Italianate on the exterior, Art Deco on the interior – for a house that conforms with its surroundings, yet retains its individuality.

"I designed the exterior in the formal Italian style – with some changes to reflect California's climate that's suited to indoor-outdoor living.

"The facade is traditional French limestone with classic Doric columns and stone tracery on the balconies. The recycled clay roof tiles were imported from Italy, and exposed wood outriggers under the eaves are another classic detail. Adding to the look of an historic residence, the entry steps are flanked by stone balustrades with channels for water to trickle down into ornate circular pools at their base."

Departures from this style include recessed balconies, which help to break up the facade visually, downplaying the home's scale. Centuries ago, an Italian house of this size, around 1950m2, would have been surrounded by its own estate – as much as 40ha of land.


The large windows are another modern element, letting in plenty of light and optimising views to the front garden. The driveway and entry to the basement garage are set to one side to make way for extensive formal landscaping.

Stepping inside the house is like stepping forward in time to the glamour and luxury of the Roaring Twenties. While not strictly Art Deco in style, the interior does draw inspiration from that period, the architect says.

The double-height entry foyer is crowned by a large wrought iron skylight in Art Deco style, and the stair, window and mouldings all reflect the stepped lines of the era. The glinting stand of green glass blades by Chihuly and a sculpture-meets-light fixture by Hervé Van der Straeten are also Art Deco in feel.

While the exterior window frames are bronze, for a lavish Italian look, on the inside, they are wood. Landry says touches of Italian design can be seen indoors, too. The groin vault corridor upstairs shows a clear Italian influence, and the fluted columns fit with both styles.

Most rooms lead off the central foyer, with formal rooms to one side and informal spaces to the other. The master suite and guest bedrooms are upstairs. The residence is frequently used for entertaining on a lavish scale and the basement includes a large games room, a bar area, lounge, an indoor swimming pool, two spas, and a movie theatre, as well as the garage.

The great room opens to a covered loggia with double bifolding doors, another concession to modern indoor-outdoor living. A coffered ceiling with stepped mouldings, and an inlaid floor pattern continue the Art Deco theme. Low, linear modern furniture is sympathetic to the architecture.

The living room and covered loggia look across the swimming pool to what appears to be a rustic old building. However, this large stone structure is also brand new and incorporates a guest suite with balcony, a covered loggia, a tower and fire pit.

"The concept was to create a visual story, implying that when the main house was built there were several existing structures on the land and one was repurposed as a pool house or cabana," says Landry.

The main residence and cabana have quite different characters, but similarities of tone and scale draw them together visually.

First published date: 25 September 2014

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Credit List

Architect Richard Landry AIA, Landry Design Group (Los Angeles)
Interior designer and kitchen designer Joan Behnke & Associates
Cabinet company Charles Gemeiner Cabinets
Builder Finton Construction
Structural engineer KNA Engineering
Cladding French limestone in running bond pattern from Coastal Tile
Roofing Reclaimed Italian clay roof tiles and pans from Silverman Roofing
Doors and windows Bronze-clad mahogany by La Finestra
Skylights Aluminium in Dark Bronze from Sun Valley Skylights
Flooring Mahogany, stained espresso brown; silver-veined travertine with portoro marble liner accents.
Heating Carrier from Jim's Heating & Air
Blinds Fibre shades from Conrad
Drapes Custom by Joan Behnke and Associates
Chandelier Galerie Van Der Straeten
Pool LC Pools