Sunday, February 12, 2012

Andalucia in the Palisades

When I blogged about workmanship in this previous post, I used an Andalucian-style house in Pacific Palisades as an example. Although the architect of record was Richard Landry, the house was largely designed by its owner, Lorna Auerbach, who worked with Landry on every aspect of the planning.

Recently, Lorna graciously invited me into her very private but also very welcoming world.

Lorna Auerbach at the outer door of her house on Amalfi Drive.
The 18th-century gates were sourced in Ronda, and the surrounding tiles are
reproductions from Seville, based on a wainscot from a 16th-century palace.

Tile is considered a sign of wealth in southern Europe. Trying to source authentic tile for this project was an impetus for Lorna to found her own import tile company, Antigua del Mar. (More about this Santa Monica-based company in my next post.)

The house has no doorbell: "Use the knockerit's authentic!"

The entry courtyard, with tower.

The entry courtyard from above.

"What I love about walking down the streets of Córdoba or Sevilla, is the sense of mystery," says Lorna, who is an avid Hispanophile and an authority of the history of tile. "The gates are always closed, and you wonder what's going on behind them."

Lorna, who grew up in Santa Monica Canyon, where all the streets were at one time cobbled, retains a romantic vision of the atmosphere of this erstwhile Spanish land grant area.

"There was something very magical about growing up in that environment," she says. "When I met Richard Landry, he asked me a very leading question: 'What are your strongest childhood memories of home?'" The ensuing dialogue between the designer and the architect led to the eventual look and feel of the house.

A reproduction of a 16th-century tile plaque in a house in Sevilla—a map of the city—graces the entry hall.

Lorna avoided down-lights in the house. Lighting fixtures are Moroccan, Spanish, and Mexican, some original and some replicated by local artisans. The owner also has no qualms about purchasing fixtures from retailers such as Lamps Plusif they work in the space.

Every room has at least three window walls for cross-ventilation (air-conditioning was installed only on the second level), as well as its own private patio or outdoor space, most of them decorated with artisanal ceramic ware.

A colorful patio off the home office.

Lorna acted as her own interior decorator, sourcing from flea markets and even becoming a dealer in order to have "insider" access to the best merchandise.

The living room viewed from the kitchen.

The dining room also serves as a library.

One of my favorite features of the house is the media room, with generous fenestration of steel-frame windows below Moorish arches, which are covered with tile on the exterior. The motif was copied from a 1920s house in Santa Barbara.

The gorgeous landscaping is by Mark David Levine.

The tiles used on the arches are available from Lorna's company, Antigua del Mar.

Even the undersides of the balconies are tiled. "You see that all over Spain. It's the idea of surprise," Lorna explains. "The idea that everywhere you look there's something interesting to catch the eye."

The design of the wrought iron is taken from a Spanish original.

"The idea of surprise." The undersides of the balconies are covered in tile.

The house is centered around the light-filled double-height central hall, where a skylight allows the California sun to pour in and find its way throughout the house.

Bringing the outdoors in.

A sitting area outside the master suite.

Lorna selected the artwork throughout the residence according to her personal taste and its appropriateness to the mood of the house. The mix includes classic California plein air paintings, work by local artists, collectible posters, fine art photographs and ceramic art.

A landscape of Ronda, Spain, in the master suite sitting room.

A naïviste painting by Los Angeles artist Antonio Rael.

A study for a mural by Sam Hyde Harris.

The house was built by Tyler Development.

This photo by Erhard Pfeiffer.

Many thanks to Lorna Auerbach for her generosity in showing me the house. Watch for my next post about her tile company, Antigua del Mar.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From Belgium with style

I got a nice note recently from David Manrique, the Stateside account manager for the Belgian luxury hardware manufacturer Vervloet, founded in Brussels in 1905.

I'm posting below a few pages from the Vervloet catalogs (which can be downloaded from the Vervloet website). The products range from Louis XIV (who is due for a revival any time now) to Beaux Arts to Art Déco to contemporary classics.

Very impressive design and workmanship, on a par with P. E. Guerin, I'd say. I've always wanted Cremone bolts on my French windows. I'm keeping this web address handy . . . but first I need the windows.

Interested parties can reach David Manrique at