Classical Italian Meets French Art Deco

Classical Italian Meets French Art Deco

Arcadia building contractor John Finton traveled the globe to find the perfect materials and craftspeople for this European-style manse in Beverly Hills.

By John Finton 09/11/2013

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On a rare piece of real estate in Beverly Hills, these homeowners were dedicated to having a sophisticated, one-of-a-kind home to fill with family and warmth — and this is exactly what they got.

The Italian architecture and façade of the building is juxtaposed beautifully with a unique French Art Deco interior. with a staff of 100 workers a day, we built this seven-bedroom, 22,000-square-foot residence from the ground up in just three years.

As the design called for a natural-cut stone exterior, I was back in France searching out the best material. Somewhere between Paris, Dijon and an overnight train to Lyon, I caught pneumonia but made it through a tour of quarries just in time to both get well again and realize that French limestone from the Dijon region was the best fit. We used the talents of a workshop in Shenzhen, China, to hand-carve the large quantity of stone and have it sent back to Los Angeles to create the new building.

We hired a skilled plaster atelier from New York to create the custom-scalloped walls of the entry foyer and the architectural detailing of the second-floor’s open-air atrium. The endless windows throughout the residence were brought in from Rimini, Italy. Across from the atrium is the entrance to the master suite, which opens onto an elegant sitting room, bedroom and his-and-her master bathrooms, each clad with sultry, smart antique décor. The homeowners fell in love with an Italian marble that we wanted to use on more of the house, but only a limited quantity was left in existence.

Chasing the remaining blocks of stone took a few trips to the Tuscan coast. Finally, when on a cruise with my family not far from the area the stone came from, I had to leave the boat a couple days for one last look. During the brief excursion I found and purchased the remaining blocks of marble, and they fit perfectly as a core element in the hearth of the master sitting room.

As one of the most important uses for this home was to gather the homeowners’ large family, we worked closely alongside the designer and architect to create the finest entertainment areas. A large dining room for formal meals overlooks the front landscape, while a spacious and meticulously planned kitchen sits adjacent to an informal breakfast room. To be sure the homeowners had the best experience of their love of culinary arts, I traveled to Italy with the interior designer for the perfect kosher granite counters for the kitchen. The family room nearby offers serene comfort with a lounge and built-in aquarium.

The activities continue downstairs with a spa containing an indoor pool, hot tub, massage suite and sauna. For more enlivening gatherings you’re led to the one-of-a-kind game room, designed to emulate the deck of a 1930s ocean liner, complete with rope chandeliers, a steel-framed ceiling, and a unique trompe l’oeil custom-painted mural across the main wall, giving the genuine ambiance of a ship’s deck.

Also downstairs, a home theater and 1,500-bottle wine cellar make for wonderful entertaining.

Outside, we built the swimming pool and added a two-story guest house with a small outdoor lounge.

Reprinted with permission from California Luxury Living: A Private Tour by John Finton, Images Publishing, May 2013.

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