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Calming Effect

A couple transform a hancock park arts and crafts-style home into a light-filled sanctuary

May 14, 2000|Barbara Thornburg

Sometimes an older home can be both a blessing and a curse. Interior designer Kazuko Hoshino and her husband, architect William Hefner, admired many qualities about their 1923 English Arts and Crafts-style home in Hancock Park, but the dark interior ran counter to their visions for tranquil, light-filled rooms.

To brighten things up, the couple first took care of a few cosmetic changes, adding French doors in both the master bedroom and sun room. Next they painted the remaining rooms, choosing a subtle palette of pale colors--creamy pearl and golden caramel--to lighten the interior. They installed adjustable recessed ceiling lights to highlight artwork. They put in floor "up-lights" to illuminate the ceiling and incandescent floor and table lamps for diffused light. "The more sources, the better the lighting quality," says Hefner. "They work together to create an overall warmth."

Throughout the house, Hefner and Hoshino used natural materials such as wood, stone and metal, adding an oak floor, a limestone hearth and galvanized-steel fireplace to the master bedroom. "I'm a strong believer in materials that feed the soul," says Hefner. "Natural materials create a sensation that is so satisfying." Together they designed the master bath, featuring a deep tub and an araiba (which literally means "wash place" in Japanese) reminiscent of the baths that Hefner fell in love with while traveling in Japan. "It's so much more than a bath. It's pure bliss," says the architect, recalling the first time he soaked in a steamy tub in Kyoto. The couple enlarged the second-story bath, replacing the '50s linoleum floor with limestone and the speckled Formica counter with marble. Then they lined the tub and shower column with a reflective, gold-hued glass mosaic tile. "In Japan, the floor would traditionally be elevated wood slats or tile. Stone and marble are Western materials," explains Hoshino, "but the simplicity of the room is very Asian." Sharing a passion for minimalism, they pared down to essentials. "When I first met William, he had every surface covered with his carvings, photographs and vintage cameras," says Hoshino. "When you have so many things out, you can't see them anymore." Now they rotate their paintings and accessories seasonally in the same way in which Hoshino often replaced the Japanese scroll in the tokonoma at her former home in her native Tokyo.

In the living room, they designed a low sofa to accommodate a floor-hugging Japanese table that is accompanied by zabuton--Japanese floor cushions. "We often sit around the table in front of the fire," says Hoshino. In the dining room, American Regency-style chairs and a table draped with fine French linen stand next to a black lacquer chinoiserie cabinet. A simple matchstick blind covering the window recalls the Japanese sudare that hang in temples.

The couple also mix Japanese woodblocks and Asian carvings with limited-edition prints and etchings by California artists David Hockney and Carlos Almarez and photographs by New York artist Duane Michals. "It was important that the house reflect both of us," says Hefner, a fifth-generation Californian. Hoshino, who orchestrated the natural-fiber fabrics--cotton, linen, wool, silk, hemp--for upholstery and draperies, adds, "They just feel so much better. We want to surround ourselves with things that come from the earth as well as with things from the places we love."

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