For his house above Sunset Boulevard, Eric Duffy knew exactly who to call to give character to his “white box” on a hill: the mother-son duo the stars have on speed dial
High above Sunset Boulevard in the exclusive enclave known as the “bird streets” in Hollywood Hills West sits Eric Duffy’s private retreat—cloaked by a preponderance of eucalyptus and bamboo, and enclosed by a rustic concrete wall. “It’s super quiet and very tucked away,” says Duffy, an account executive at a printing and graphics company. “You kind of feel like you’re in a tree house—with a Palm Springs vibe.”
Duffy enlisted the mother-son team at Clements Design for a gut renovation of the property in 2016. “The house was a white box with no character,” says Tommy Clements, whose brief from Duffy was to create a “cool and inviting pad.” The design duo—whose client roster is dominated by first-name celebrities including Ellen and Portia, the Jennifers (Aniston and Lawrence), Ringo, and Bruno (Mars, of course)—brought their love for natural materials and clean lines to the 3,500-square-foot dwelling among the trees.
The redesign began by swapping out the existing engineered wood floors for titanium limestone—a constant element that anchors the home’s color palette and extends from the indoors to the outdoors, encircling the pool and integrating the house into the foliage-dense setting. To counterbalance the cool hardscape, a warm pinewood was sandblasted and stained a rich espresso, then incorporated as floor-to-ceiling paneling in the master bedroom and used for all the interior doors. “The warmth of the wood contrasts with the smooth and slick stone floors, which we didn’t want to come off as cold,” says Tommy. “Pine is a softer wood, so when you sandblast it you get a lot of depth and texture, which is important to us,” he adds. The plywood bedside tables lighten things up. “We’ve started using plywood in an elevated way. We did desks and a bar in our own office out of plywood,” says Kathleen Clements. “It’s very important to have a bar in your office.”
For Duffy, comfort was of tantamount importance: Tactile pieces and opportunities for repose abound, from giant modular ottomans that work as an inviting daybed in the lounge to boiled wool throws from local artist Michael Koch, C&C Milano pillows in varied shades of gray and a custom-made coverlet on the master bed.
Together, the Italian linens and earthy wood adhere to a tight, monochromatic palette. “There’s a peaceful, serene quality to it; it’s very masculine as well as soft,” says Tommy.
The tree house feeling is most palpable in the dining room, where original floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide a true sense of being “perched.” The kitchen and dining areas were reconfigured to create separation between them, accomplished with sliding pocket doors that can be open or closed depending on what kind of entertaining is happening. “I see the appeal of the open kitchen,” says Tommy. “But more and more, people want the option to not have so much openness. There’s something nice about creating separate spaces in a house.” Sheer linen window treatments temper hard lines without obstructing the verdant view, interspersed with city lights. Fashion-cum-furniture designer Rick Owens created the brass plates on the table, juxtaposed by a Chris Brock ceramic vase that sits on a sideboard, also made of titanium limestone.
Duffy, who has worked with Clements Design on past residential projects, says he “trusts them implicitly.” Indeed, the Clements consulted on their client’s art collection (a white abstract oil-on-canvas painting by Walter Darby Bannard in the master bedroom is particularly prized) and oversaw the landscaping. “After all, the house has 140 slabs of stone,” says Duffy. “But they made it incredibly warm, while still being sleek and modern.”
Photography by SHADE DEGGES.
Written by MARTHA McCULLY.