A Waterford crystal chandelier, original to the house, crowns the living room. Sofas by Coup Studio; cocktail table by Armand Jonckers; Charles De Lisle lamps atop Facture Studio pink resin tables; French 1950s armchairs and Gio Ponti stools in DimoreStudio fabrics. Artworks by Cindy Sherman (left) and John Baldessari.
Boxy Chandigarh chairs and raw linen. Dinesen oak floors and rustic farm tables. Fifty shades of beige. “I didn’t want any of that,” Mary Kitchen avows, rejecting the current vogue among Tinseltown’s elite for soft, hushed minimalism and all things Perriand. “I wasn’t looking for a cool midcentury house in the Hollywood Hills, with exquisitely tasteful interiors,” she says, adding emphatically, “I didn’t want a house that looks like everyone else’s.”
Mission accomplished. Ably abetted by her team of, well, let’s call them her enablers—interior designer Jamie Bush, architect William Hefner, and landscape maestro Raymond Jungles—Kitchen has conjured a blockbuster vision of Los Angeles swank, at once nostalgic and contemporary, sexy and funny, high-brow and low. With its circular skylights, color-blocked rooms, and pink-tinged indoor-outdoor terrazzo floors, the house represents a fearless pasticcio of Hollywood Regency, Art Deco, Palm Springs camp, tropical modern, granny chic, and a dash of Morris Lapidus–style Miami Beach cha-cha. It’s a heady brew, made all the more intriguing by Kitchen’s unapologetic refusal to abide by the shibboleths of modern taste—like the idea that selecting a painting because it matches the color of a sofa is somehow inherently vulgar.
“The house is a glamorous throwback fantasy, but it’s also weirdly unfashionable. Mary pushed it in the most courageous way. Most people simply wouldn’t have the chutzpah,” Bush says of his audacious client, a television presenter, model, and philanthropist dedicated to cancer research, children’s arts education, and a host of other causes.
Kitchen’s fictional backstory for the project involved a widowed L.A. socialite—a grande dame of the old school—who built the house in the late 1940s or early ’50s and maintained it, in all its recherché glory, until Kitchen and her husband acquired the property upon her passing. In reality, the Hollywood Regency–style abode, nestled in tony Holmby Hills, was designed by architect Caspar Ehmcke and built in 1966. The residence is located just blocks from the landmark Brody House, a collaboration between architect A. Quincy Jones and decorator William Haines, which served as one of several stylish midcentury touchstones for the current renovation. Kitchen and her husband purchased the home from rock star Adam Levine and his wife, model Behati Prinsloo Levine, who had taken the interior down to the studs before abandoning the project in search of greener pastures elsewhere in the city.
“Honestly, the house wasn’t that great, but it had generous rooms with 14-foot ceilings and a few details that were worth preserving. Mary didn’t want to lose the original character entirely, so we tried to imagine what the house might have been if it had really exceptional period architecture,” Hefner recalls. Working within the original footprint, the architect completely recast the character of the structure by flattening its pitched roof, adding spruce modern eaves and corner windows, and cladding the formerly stucco exterior in white-painted reclaimed brick, the same material he used for outdoor screens, planters, and brise-soleils, as well as a few strategic walls of the interior. “It’s not a slavish re-creation of one particular style, but it has the right spirit and it feels familiar,” the architect says.