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DIY DESIGN

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Hotels have long been fantasy fodder for do-it-yourself designers. Just as Kelly Wearstler's Viceroy and Maison 140 hotels goosed the Hollywood Regency trend, the look of three new local lodgings can lend similar inspiration to Southern California homes. "There's an emerging backlash against nightclub- inspired interiors and a move toward a more authentic and comfortable residential feeling," says David Collins, who transformed the Bel Age on Sunset Boulevard into the London West Hollywood. Here's a look at how designers have exuded a strong sense of place in very different ways.

May 08, 2008|David A. Keeps | Times Staff Writer

CUSTOM HOTEL

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ARCHITECT Welton Becket, whose firm built the Capitol Records building, designed this 1960s tower near Los Angeles International Airport. Developer Avi Brosh recently reimagined it as a loft-style business hotel whose exposed concrete columns, burnished cinder-block walls and Cementi floor tiles have an industrial feel. The lobby is warmed up with cork stools designed by Jasper Morrison for and woolly sheep sculptures from Moss with wooden legs and leather ears.

"They have been kidnapped and found all over the hotel," an amused desk clerk says. "But they always find their way home in the morning."

One coffee table sports a photo- engraved concrete top with the image of Becket, an effect that can be duplicated by Texas-based Intaglio Composites for a price. (The Custom's cost $7,760.) An easier look to emulate: artists' flat filing cabinets used as coffee tables, balanced by upholstered sectionals with purple and pink pillows.

Brosh also deployed elements of what he calls "grandma chic" -- rugs with a crochet appearance and embroidered floral cushions on contemporary Nais wire chairs designed by Alfredo Haberli -- to give a "comforting" feel to the spare space.

Whimsy rules. A conference room floor is covered in a grass print from the ASI Vinyl Imagination Series purchased from Architectural Systems Inc. To accentuate the faux pasture, Brosh placed a KS Cow cabinet bought for about $1,000 at Espacio Home in London (pictured on Page 1). The look can be replicated by creating a large-scale image at a copy shop and cutting it to fit flat drawer fronts.

Largely serving travelers on business or layovers, Brosh wanted surprising rooms that were "uplifting, light, uncluttered and very easy to use." Many of his solutions can work in guest rooms and kids' quarters. What makes the platform beds memorable is a single design move: a Kravet dog pattern for draperies that Brosh had printed on softer fabric and sewn into coverlets by SK Textile in L.A.

"Some of the best design evolves when you have restrictions," Brosh says of the rooms, which are devoid of paintings or fussy curtains. "We were restrained in color and art and bold in layout and concept." Indeed, the finishing touch on his "best-in-show" rooms is a blue ribbon clipped onto a plain white lamp shade.

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LONDON WEST HOLLYWOOD

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"IT WAS important to make the rooms feel residential and to have subliminal touches of Hollywood glamour," designer David Collins says, "but it's quite difficult to make a contemporary interior look cozy without appearing fussy."

One solution: incorporating a Maya Romanoff wall covering made from wood veneer. "The presence of wood and the reflective sheen of the grain gives a nod to Neutra and L.A. modernism," he says, "and equally brings a warmth into the room."

Though Collins changed the exterior of the hotel from pink to a more tasteful gray and white, the designer didn't shy away from color inside.

"Los Angeles is a colorful town, and the fact that it has such beautiful light makes it easier to use subtle colors," Collins says. "I didn't want to do gray-beige-greige. I wanted to bring the green I see from the windows indoors with marble and velvet and silk."

He also uses mirrors artfully. On one wall, he achieves the effect of oversized necklace links by hanging three oval mirrors so close that their frames meet, a technique that can be easily managed at home.

A more difficult look to emulate is the mini-bar backsplash, in which Collins covered a mirror with linen mesh and plate glass for a subtler reflection.

If the rooms represent a luxurious take on California casual, the lobby has a distinctly British polish. Tiled in marble mosaic, the floor is a glistening white, with areas defined by circular black borders. Doorway moldings are trimmed in crocodile-embossed leather. At the far end of the lobby, Collins installed one of several 19th century-style English settees upholstered in metallic gold hides from Edelman Leather in the Pacific Design Center.

"I'd be arrogant to think that people might want to copy that," he says. "But they certainly could. I do think it takes a sizable room to get away with gold leather."

Another form of gilding that Collins uses throughout the lobby: The shades of satin black floor lamps have been gold-leafed on the inside. Ditto the iron chandeliers coated in plaster and gesso and inspired by Alberto Giacometti's designs for the Picasso museum in Paris.

"They look matte and organic from the outside and glow from the inside, casting a golden reflection on everything and everyone in the room," Collins says. "And at the end of the day, as everyone in Los Angeles knows, you're only as good as your lighting."

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PALIHOUSE HOLLOWAY

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CREATED AS an alternative to cookie-cutter corporate extended-stay hotels, Palihouse Holloway in West Hollywood makes a design statement starting in the lobby, which designer Avi Brosh says is evocative of New York bars and French bistros.

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