November, 2010 | Written by Elisa Chemayne Agostinno | Photography by Ken Hayden
The Bird Streets of Los Angeles- a storied neighborhood of quiet, winding drives tucked into the Hollywood Hills have long been a sought after address. Coveted for their panoramic views of the city, sea and mountains and primarily to all the city has to offer, the secluded network of byways holds some of the most impressive examples of quintessential Southern California architecture and design around. And Blue Jay Way- immortalized in the Beatle’s song of the same name- may just be the proverbial father in the enclave’s nest.
The location, says homeowner Michael Dobson, was the draw. “It’s just a five minute drive from Sunset and Doheny, yet you feel as if you’re in a completely different world.” Dobson had been living at the beach but looking for something more city centric when he embarked on a quest to find his own perch in Bird Land, one with jaw-dropping views that nonetheless offered a high measure of privacy from the street and neighboring homes. He found it, and his interior designer, Lori Dennis, in one fell swoop.
Dennis of the self-titled design firm in Los Angeles had began work on the from the ground up home when Dobson, who’d been told that the present owner could be persuaded to self, came by to take a look. “he really, really wanted it,” recalls Dennis, whom Dobson- after speaking with the green-minded designer about her plans for the project- kept on after purchasing the property. “He didn’t know a lot about sustainable design, but he’s a highly intelligent guy and was really excited about things like solar energy and radiant heating, “ says Dennis. “He saw that I was leading the teams in a very specific direction, and he trusted me to continue on that road.”
“We wanted to continue with the original concept of transparency to the views, but we also wanted to move around some of the interior space and enlarge outdoor areas, “says Alegre, the project manager. So the floor plan was tweaked the entrance redesigned and a 500 square foot roof deck with 360 degree views was added. Sited on a steep hillside, “when you walk in,” says Alegre, “you feel the openness, the transparency, and you feel as if you are truly flying, inside the house.”
Inside, Dennis seamlessly approached the interiors with the eye for luxury, quality and sustainability that distinguishes her work. “My initial inspiration was a hotel in Mexico City called La Purificadora,” says the designer. “I’ve spent a lot of time in Mexico City, and I really love that rustic, yet chic vibe, the streamlined and the sleek juxtaposed with rougher elements.” Dobson was also enthused,”I wanted modern but it had to be warm. “ Thus, natural, eco-friendly materials textures and cottons-such as limestone slabs, reclaimed oak and organic linens and cottons are found throughout the house. Furnishings were kept simple both in form and order, a muted palette of sand, surf and driftwood flows through each room. “It was really about the space and the vibe, so we didn’t go crazy with accessories or furniture,” explains Dennis.
Crazy, if you will, entered the picture with the pool. Butting up to the edge of the house and running alongside much of the main level, it’s an awe-inducing combination of design, engineering and construction. “It’s built on pilasters and suspended off of the ground,” says Arnold, “so from the lower level of the house you can see the bottom of the pool, which is incredible.”
Blue Note- The media room opens to the rest of the public space on the main level. The couches, cushion, throw pillow, wall unit and brilliant aqua faux crocodile cocktail table were all custom designed by Lori Dennis using FSC certified woods non-petroleum product cushions and organic, velvet cotton. The pedestals next to the couch are reclaimed railroad ties, the drapes are an organic cotton velvet, fabricated by Heritage Draperies in LA.