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Hollywood Remake : An Ingenious New Look For a Rented Apartment

February 15, 1987|VIRGINIA GRAY | Virgina Gray is an associate editor of Los Angeles Times Magazine.

A fresh 1980s vitality has been breathed into this 1930s Spanish-style Hollywood duplex through the ingenuity of its occupants, architectural-and-interior designer Costa Charalambides and his partner, Gerhard Dorhofer.

Surprisingly, the transformation required no structural remodeling. Because this is a rented apartment the pair had to work within certain constraints, so their revisions have been purely decorative. The new look has been achieved with custom-designed furniture, contemporary artwork and simple, dramatic lighting, all the work of Charalambides and Dorhofer. The pair's ability to make the most of limited space, coupled with Dorhofer's skill in building many of the furnishings--sofas, tables, bookcases, mirrors--gives the home a singular personality. Of special note is the focal point of the living room--a post-modern arch supported by columns, veneered in olive-ash burl, that flank the fireplace.

The living room, which is relatively narrow, also presented a seating problem. "A curvilinear type of seating maximizes the number of people that can be accommodated, while keeping the conversation area intimate," Charalambides says. "It's reminiscent of interiors of luxury steamships from the '20s and '30s--streamlined, practical, yet attractive."

Practicality, however welcome, by no means overwhelms the apartment. Restrained drama also plays a role, in lighting, accessories and color choices for walls and furnishings. Window treatments were installed only where privacy demanded, and even then the solution was a simple, unobtrusive one.

Recessed lighting has been judiciously placed, softly highlighting and spotlighting artwork, table-tops, accessories and other notable areas. The designers feel that table and floor lamps interrupt the flow of their streamlined scheme. "Without harsh light, there are no harsh shadows," Charalambides says. "This type of controlled lighting pulls your eye around the room to all the right places."

When working for clients, these designers feel at home with traditional French and English country styles; but for themselves, they have created a style with hints of Art Deco and post-modernism--a style they feel is their own.

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