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Home of the Week: Brentwood compound inspired by a Mexican master

The single-level contemporary pays homage to famed architect Ricardo Legorreta with solid geometric forms, warm hues, and a shifting interplay of light and shadow.

April 03, 2011|By Darrell Satzman
  • Everett Fenton Gidley
Everett Fenton Gidley (60494694.jpg )

A sculptural assemblage of rectangles imbued with earth tones that change hues with the shifting light sets a warm tone at a Brentwood equestrian compound that pays homage to a Mexican master.

Designed by Marc Whipple of the Los Angeles firm Whipple Russell Architects, the single-level contemporary embraces the solid geometric forms, bright colors, walled patios and interplay of light and shadow favored by famed architect Ricardo Legorreta, whose international resume boasts art museums, cathedrals, hotels, homes and public gathering places, including L.A.'s Pershing Square.

Whipple's asymmetrical layout is formed by plaster walls that vary in height, depth and color, and overlap to give each part of the home a distinct look. The structure is interspersed with dozens of skylights, deeply set square portals and plentiful windows. A large pool hugs the uneven contours of the house in the backyard, creating the illusion that part of the structure is floating on water.

The inspiration for the exterior originated south of the border, but the interior is more Casablanca than Cuernavaca.

"We fell in love with [Legorreta's] approach — the idea of this little village, each room with its own color and linear form," said owner David Cornell, a South African-born commercial director who, with his wife, Mea Argentieri, had the home built in 1998. "We combined that with a Moroccan flavor inside. We wanted something softer, more traditional and less architectural."

The entry has a concrete floor with Moroccan tiles and provides a direct view through the house to the backyard pool and lawn. A large, freestanding block of salmon-colored plaster sits under a slanted skylight and, with a tiled fireplace and a concrete bench, serves to separate the living room from the dining room. Light fixtures are set out of sight in wall niches and portals. Additional light comes through sets of long vertical windows that start at ceiling height and descend several feet on two sides of the room.

The social hub of the house is a broad, skylighted open space that contains the kitchen, a breakfast room and a den. There are pecan floors and cherry cabinetry throughout. The kitchen has an angled concrete dining counter and a marble-topped center island. One wall overlooks the pool and backyard through a soaring square of glass that reaches from the floor to nearly ceiling height. A cutout in the glass wall is filled by a fireplace with a brick-red plaster mantle. Another wall has glass doors that roll back at pool's edge. Large slate slabs create a path across the water to a concrete patio with diamond shaped fire pits.

Four of the home's five bedrooms are in a wing with a children's lounge and office.

The high-ceilinged master bedroom has an elevated fireplace over a long concrete bench and doors that open an entire side of the room to the backyard. The master bath has two dressing areas, a steam shower, and an arched and tiled alcove bath. Glass doors open to a patio with a fountain.

Beyond the pool and rolling lawn, palm trees and a tilted triangular plaster wall shield the home's horse facilities and a two-story loft-style guesthouse that serves as an art studio, office and home gym. The backyard also has a dining area and a circular fire pit.

To submit a candidate for Home of the Week, send high-resolution, un-retouched color photos on a CD, written permission from the photographer to publish the images and a description of the house to Lauren Beale, Business, Los Angeles Times, 202 W. 1st St., Los Angeles, CA 90012. Send questions to homeoftheweek@latimes.com.

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