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Special Fall Home Design Issue | Lighting

Track star

September 28, 2003|Barbara Thornburg | Barbara Thornburg is senior home design editor for the magazine.

In purchasing his 1930s West Hollywood bungalow, real estate agent and part-time art dealer Michael Collins wanted a space that could accommodate large gatherings for exhibitions. The challenge was to create living and gathering areas within a 1,400-square-foot space restricted by city codes. The house couldn't be enlarged and 50% of the existing walls had to remain intact. Santa Monica architect Patrick Tighe's solution introduced a load-bearing wall, which divides the house on the diagonal, creating two distinct zones. One side features a bedroom, bath, den and kitchen. The other side is a more public living-and-dining area that serves as an art gallery and conference room. By lifting the ceiling over the living room gallery, Tighe created space for north-facing clerestories, eliminating the need for eye-level windows and maximizing wall space for art. The result is a sophisticated 50-foot-long, gallery-like room that tapers onto an outdoor courtyard.

To highlight Collins' collection of contemporary art, the architect designed a floating steel channel to house Halo's four-track lighting system. A cantilevered steel frame attaches the channel to the side walls, allowing for a dramatic, seamless ceiling that rises to 16 feet in the front and slopes to 10 feet at the rear. Twenty-five low-voltage halogen MR16 lamps are outfitted with soft lenses to eliminate harsh shadows and louvers to deflect glare. The system can flood the walls with light or highlight individual pieces. A separate light directed on the fireplace mantle focuses on smaller works. "It's a very flexible system," Collins says. "I put on different lights depending on the effect I want to create."

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Resource Guide

Patrick Tighe Architecture, Santa Monica, (310) 450-8823. Patrick Tighe's gallery bench, $2,100; 42-inch stainless steel and glass coffee table, $1,800; 15-foot stainless steel and maple dining table, $11,000. Halo's four-track lighting system and MR 16 bulbs and lenses available at F.I.R.E., Los Angeles, (310) 652-9110. Aluminum-track art-hanging system, at www.arakawagrip.com.

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