Winter, 2011 | By Celine MacKay | Designed & Produced by Lori Dennis | Photographed by Ken Hayden
What strikes us first about this home, located in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, is its pure luxury. It makes no effort to hide its opulent and indulgent nature, and it’s hard at first glance to imagine that it’s green. Yet, upon taking a closer look and having a conversation with designer Lori Dennis, it’s actually a fine example of the credo that green design can have many facets— and luxurious is definitely one of them. When the homeowners contacted Lori, their plans included an expansion that would bring their 4,000 square foot home to 6,200 square feet. They wanted to blur the lines of indoors and out, and truly emulate the relaxed mantra of southern California living. Interestingly, green design wasn’t on the list. “I was one of two designers who made it to the final round. In this interview, the owners were not really aware of green design. I went through the features and importance of including eco-friendly materials and systems. They were so impressed, it sent me to the front of the line.” And green it became, boasting a plethora of green finishes that truly respect one of the home’s primary design inspirations—the natural environment.
Inspired by world travel, especially the elegant yet approachable hotels of Mexico, Lori knew that this home, called Blue Jay Way, with its extraordinary location, had to be an example of seamless indoor/ outdoor living with warm, modern elements that comfortably blend masculine and feminine style. Never one to take herself too seriously, she joyfully explained this concept as a relaxed Flintstones-meet- the-Jetsons vibe that juxtaposed rustic, natural elements with sleek materials and the latest technology. Open concept living was a must, but it became one of the biggest design challenges. “The owner wanted a restaurant-sized bar right in the middle of the action. It took some creative thinking to make the bar (and restaurant-quality exposed wine cellar) fit in seamlessly with the upscale living and dining areas. Open floor plans are quite a bit more designed than you think. Every area affects the look of adjacent areas. Each area needs to have its own unique function and look, but coordinate and work as a whole. You don’t have this problem with the traditional layout of individual rooms.”
Limestone floors throughout much of the main living area act as a solar “sink,” trapping heat throughout the day and slowly releasing it during the cooler nights. Future plans include a solar installation, which was pre-planned by including the wiring during the renovation, and perhaps a green roof above the patio. We couldn’t possibly conclude our interview without asking Lori what she considers her favourite space in the home, not an easy task when surrounded by the stunning vistas and luxurious rooms; yet, without missing a beat, she replied, “There is something very calming about the meditation space. It was carved out of the hillside, so two sides of the room are up against earth. It’s extremely quiet and naturally insulated, so the temperature and the noise levels in the space are perfect for relaxing, getting deep into a yoga practice, or having a massage. The shower overlooks the Pacific Ocean—it’s fantastic.”
The hardwood floors in the bedroom is FSC walnut. The art featured over the bed is by Kenji Nanao and William Laga over the fireplace.
How Green It is
The home boasts a Smart Brain system, which ensure maximum energy efficiency with minimum usage; renewable and recycled materials throughout; systems like radiant heat; wiring for solar; designs will last and last the tests of durability and style.
“The views are spectacular throughout the home, all facing the Pacific Ocean and gorgeous Hollywood Hills. I constantly thought about an experience that brought the outdoors inside; lava walls, the boulder, the plants on the ledge of the shower, the hanging pendants magnetic fields and the central nervous system create an environment that literally melts stress away.”
The soft cream flooring is natural limestone.
The bathroom cabinets are by Treefrog Veneers.
All the fixtures by Dornbracht.
Lori’s Favourite Kitchen Features
“The Valcuccucine Kitchen and the Gaggenau appliances, they’re the top in luxury and some of the greenest features available in kitchens. I especially love the tiny European sized trash cans and composite bins, force and owner to pay attention their waste.”
The soft cream flooring throughout much of the living area is natural limestone.
The horizontal wall paneling is FSC white washed oak.
The warm grey counter tops are made using recycled quartz, by Caesarstone.
Visit loridennis.com for sources on accessories.
Much of the furniture is designed by Lori herself, who uses FSC wood for framing, no-petroleum based foam for cushioning and organic fabrics.
The stunning bathroom vanity is reclaimed teak, fabricated by Lounge Factor.
Visit loridennis.com to get this look at home.
Lori’s Tips For Designing Green
Before you do anything, get rid of clutter. If you don’t use it, donate or sell it. You’ll be surprised how much better your place looks when you remove the things you don’t need.
Bring plants into your space. They give off energy and oxygen and are an ever-changing, beautiful accessory. Succulents are great for people missing a green thumb or two.
Use magazines as inspiration-I do. Try to find colors, objects, and layouts that will work with the things and space you currently have.
Think outside of the box. Something simple like removing kitchen cabinet doors and repainting them inside and out can add visual square footage to a space and completely update the look.
Clean with eco-friendly products. It doesn’t matter how green your space is if you clean it weekly with toxic products. My favorite are a basket of rags, a spray bottle of white vinegar/water/lemon juice, baking soda, peroxide and Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap. Combine with some good old-fashioned elbow grease and you’ve got an inexpensive solution for healthy cleaning.