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Maile Pingel | Photo: Ethan Pines | July 29, 2013
Interior designer Kristin Tutor Eberts and her husband, Christopher, give tradition a fresh take with their Holmby Hills home.
The woven mat at the front door says it all: Welcome. Though impeccably grand, this Holmby Hills estate, built by architect John Elgin Woolf in 1937, is a family home—and a fun one, at that.
“We bought the home about four years ago and began restoring its original beauty,” says Kristin Tutor Eberts of the Hollywood Georgian she shares with her husband, film producer and entrepreneur Christopher Eberts, and their daughters, Stella Rose and Winter Violet. “I wanted to keep the sophistication of Woolf’s design but make it more livable.” So, using a gentle touch, Tutor Eberts, who owned clothing boutiques on upscale Montana Avenue in Santa Monica before launching her interior design studio, Tutor Eberts Design, set to work renovating the residence and its gardens. To the outside she added stonework, layered hedges and topiaries; inside she installed streamlined moldings, replaced the central stair’s banister with a French-inspired bronze railing, built out closets, appended a window and created a sunken seating area in the media room. With these tweaks the home “now accommodates a contemporary lifestyle,” she says. A lifestyle very much suited to living large.
Situated on a flat, extremely private lot on one of the neighborhood’s most coveted streets, the nine-bedroom house counts Art Linkletter and Henry Mancini among its former owners. And yet, for a 12,000-square-foot dwelling, it feels remarkably cozy, largely due to Tutor Eberts’ clever tailoring of space.
Old Hollywood charm greets guests at the front door, which opens to a dramatic foyer, with a gray-and-white marble floor and an oval ceiling decorated with Adam-style plasterwork. A right turn takes you into the dining room, where art deco mingles with ’70s-era cool, while a twist left leads down two steps into an enfilade of generously proportioned, sun-filled living rooms. “I had three large living spaces in a row—two formal and one family—that needed to be defined,” says Tutor Eberts, who found her solution in color, texture and monumental artworks. Each distinct room is richly layered in all three, and visually and tangibly satisfying. Moving through the house avails one delightful touch after another: mirrors, velvet, wood, bronze, shagreen and Lucite; Warhol silk screens; John Dickinson tables; guitars signed by legendary rockers; and a wall of Muybridge photographs.
Just off the primary living room, with its boldly hued furnishings, is the library, now the designer’s office. “It’s my creative space,” Tutor Eberts explains. “It bothered me that every house has a brown wood library, so I went for black-lacquered walls and a white crocodile ceiling.” (In keeping with her knack for defining space, the adjacent bathroom offers precisely the reverse color scheme.) Not surprisingly, the tastemaker, who grew up in Hidden Hills and studied art at USC, considers art, fashion and music to be her greatest influences. All of these forces meet in the office, which she’s filled with books, photography (including two portraits of Bob Dylan), a Buddha statue, guitars and vintage radios.
The upstairs is largely devoted to a master suite and a wing for the owners’ daughters, whose grown-up rooms reflect their parents’ desire to expose the girls to the arts at an early age. But it’s not all seriousness. Of Stella’s fuchsia-colored walls, Tutor Eberts smiles and says, “I’m not really into pastels.”
Across the landing, the couple’s suite is “the most masculine area in the house.” For this space, Tutor Eberts picked a sophisticated palette of neutrals and materials—stone, metal, fur and wood—to suggest strength. The space also holds a lacquered walk-in closet befitting a woman passionate about her wardrobe. There’s an efficient little kitchenette, too, hidden behind a paneled door just steps from the bed, a custom design by longtime family friend Charles Hollis Jones. The home, but particularly these rooms (bedroom, study and sitting area), is the result of a collaborative effort with her husband. “Christopher is extremely creative and had his voice in the design,” she says. “We see eye to eye and it’s been fun to develop things together. We’ve enjoyed the process. Although I did get the last say!”
Just off the master suite is a sprawling terrace overlooking the lawn, pool and guesthouse, which also houses a gym—an important part of the couple’s active lifestyle. (But this is no ordinary gym: Equipment has been powder-coated to create a cohesive visual effect.) The gated side yard, meanwhile, is the children’s domain, boasting its own Woolf-style playhouse and linking directly to the family room off the kitchen. Before the couple moved to Holmby Hills, they owned a midcentury modern house in Bel Air, which, recalls Tutor Eberts, “was beautiful and special but wasn’t right for a family. It was very important for me to give my children a great family home with open spaces to play.” In doing so, the designer has given herself the same.
“It was time for me to move on and to broaden my experiences,” says Tutor Eberts of what inspired her foray into design, where she’s in full control of the artistic process, a freedom that has led to a forthcoming line of home furnishings. “It was wonderful to make a home that resembles me and my family. But what I love most about this house is its dual purpose: It’s a quiet retreat for us and also great for entertaining. It’s modern and elegant, but functional.” And it’s that style of living—a friendly kind of glamour—that clients are requesting. The designer recently finished a home in West Hollywood, is at work on a lake house and is starting a project in Beverly Hills.
“I fell in love with this house the moment I walked in,” Tutor Eberts says. “It feels lived-in now, and I like that. Every client should feel like I do when they come home.”