Inside a Recently Restored Mid-Century Gem in the Hollywood Hills
By restoring an original Richard Neutra home, Patrick O’Neill pays homage to the mid-century master while bringing his own authentic cool.
Published Sep 28, 2018 7:59 PM
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“I looked at this house as an incredible piece of art,” says Patrick O’Neill, creative director and owner of the Hailey Residence by modernist architecture icon Richard Neutra. The mid-century home had three previous owners, but the design was remarkably near untouched.
“Usually someone decides to ‘update’ over the years by tearing down walls or changing the structure, but luckily each person shared my appreciation for the original,” he says. “The first time I walked in, I couldn’t believe I was touching the same materials installed in 1959, when it was built.”
[In the lead image: Patrick O’Neill’s 1967 Porsche 912.]
Though the house was in good condition, O’Neill wanted to return the aesthetic to what Neutra had envisioned. Every aspect was carefully considered from the outside in. O’Neill pored over archival records at UCLA and the Getty Research Institute (especially the photography of Julius Shulman) to better re-create the landscaping.
“Bringing the right craftspeople on board was imperative—people who love and care for these homes as much as I do,” explains O’Neill. “I started falling in love with the whole process and no longer cared how long it took.”
For the interiors, he collaborated with restoration team Andrew Gray Studio, project manager Barbara Lamprecht (“a walking encyclopedia on all things Neutra”), and interior designer Anthony Barsoumian. As Lamprecht recounts, the historic home was built on a seemingly impossible dream: “Two young bucks—developer Jacques Vuillard and builder Paul Smith—approached Neutra with a very low budget and a treacherous site. To their surprise, the great man said yes.”
Not only did Neutra assist with the structural plan (the plot sits on a steep hillside, making the design—and the view—all the more impressive), but he also advised on aesthetic particulars like using a soft yellow and deep salmon for the exterior.
[In this image: Restoring the space meant keeping as much of the original details as possible—including the oven. “A turkey goes in every Thanksgiving!” says O’Neill. Original Thermador In-Wall Oven, Thermador; Original Yellow Formica by Richard Neutra.]
With this in mind, O’Neill’s team got to work, refreshing original materials and bringing new life to timeless decor elements. They restored all of the mahogany and redwood throughout the space and added glass panels to the balcony for a lighter look. Updates were made to the kitchen and bathroom. And the brighter colors that had crept in over the past 50 years returned to a palette of calming, warm neutrals—evoking the taupes and browns found in O’Neill’s favorite movie, Network.
[In this image: Desk Chair by Pedro Useche, $7,000; Built-in Bed and Desk by Craig Ellwood; Wall Art by Italo Valenti, $4,000; Regina Lamp by Bobo Piccoli for Fontana Arte, 1stdibs, $8,500.]
Once the aesthetic foundation was set, O’Neill could layer in his “Pop-infused” inspirations and make the home his own. He looked to everything from the designs of Paul Rand and Milton Glaser to the musical soundtracks of Burt Bacharach and even architectural aspects from Disneyland as influences.
“There’s something so beautiful about Bacharach’s combination of melodies and intricate interpretations. To me, his music is the soundtrack of the house,” says O’Neill. In the den, a 1968 TV built into the wall creates a cool vintage screening room: “When friends come over for cocktails, I’ll play a Warhol film or a Technicolor masterpiece like Singing in the Rain.”
[In this image: Ico Parisi Bar Cart; Serge Mouille Saturne Sconces; Pot by David Cressey; Planter by John Follis and Rex Goode; Hans Wegner Flag Halyard Rope Chair; Slay Rope Lounge Chairs and Ottoman by Walter Lamb; Lagardo Tackett Planter, 1stdibs, $895; Vittorio Nobili Medea Chairs, 1stdibs, set of 6 for $7,500.]
The result is a space that feels fluid and poetic—a home rather than a museum. Returning everything to Neutra’s vision was like coming full circle, according to O’Neill. “Restoration instead of renovation is such a uniquely inspiring process. Most people would take one look and think, Oh, my God! That’s so much work! But I was jumping up and down with excitement,” he says. “When we finished, there was a moment I realized, I’m going to take care of this house and it’s going to take care of me.”
[In O’Neill’s purchase of the Hailey Residence was a kismet moment. He had just sold his Kaufmann-inspired home in Woodstock, New York, when he heard the historic Los Angeles property was on the market. “I knew it was supposed to be mine,” he says. Original Formica with Sink by Richard Neutra.]
[In this image: New Shelves by Andrew Gray; Zig Zag Chair by Gerrit Rietveld, Pamono.]
See more inspiring homes from the Fall 2017 issue:
Whimsy and Design Savvy Strike a Happy Chord in This Colorful NYC Home
Opposites Attract in This Artfully Balanced San Francisco Home
Madewell’s Lead Designer Brings the Cool-Girl Look Home