Architect for kitchen and potting area: Pamela Donnelly, Pamela Donnelly Architect, 1040 N. Las Palmas Ave., Bldg. 34, Los Angeles, CA 90038; 323/860-3100.
Photographs by Werner Straube
Text by Jenny Bradley
Produced by Robert Young
While Anna and Alan Clark's Hancock Park, California, home may not be as famous as the legendary Southern mansion in Gone With the Wind, it shares at least one striking architectural detail. Not since Scarlett and Rhett's dramatic displays has a staircase garnered so much attention.
"We stepped inside and saw this beautiful stairway," says Anna. "I could see my daughter walking down those stairs in her wedding dress. I was sold immediately--love at first sight."
Twenty-two years later, Anna is still madly in love. Though, as with any good relationship, things have evolved. The 1913 Beaux-Arts home has developed a personality that is pure Anna--one that's uncompromisingly traditional, yet doesn't take itself too seriously. Every room follows Anna's straightforward (if somewhat nonconformist) design philosophy: "Decorating is a little like life. Don't be afraid of mixing things that don't seem to go together. It makes the final result so much more interesting," she says.
That mix, in Anna's case, is inspired by a lifelong passion for design and travel. Growing up on Army bases around the world, Anna and her brother would go for long walks, passing house after house, one nearly indistinguishable from the next. "We'd peek in our neighbors' windows," recalls Anna. "It was amazing to me that all of these houses were essentially identical on the outside, yet inside each one had its own distinct personality. The pieces people chose to put in their homes gave it life, even if the exteriors all looked the same."
Those voyeuristic strolls obviously stuck with Anna. The home she shares with Alan is nothing if not filled with personality. And, as she likes to point out, it's all in the mix. Vibrant color and pattern breathe life into each room. Exotic finds from the couple's travels mingle effortlessly with crystal chandeliers and chintz-covered chairs.
"I missed my calling as an anthropologist," says Anna. "Cultures express themselves so beautifully through their textiles and art. Every time I go on a trip, I haul home a whole slew of pieces."
That fondness for foreign shopping trips is abundantly evident. Suzanis from Turkey are sprinkled throughout the house. Chinese opium bed panels now adorn the front entry. A hat from Tibet and a necklace from Morocco bedeck a bust in the family room.
Anna's mixologist design philosophy is given free rein in the living room. A collection of colors, patterns, and pieces that wouldn't be obvious cohabitants in many homes live together harmoniously. Plaids mingle with animal prints and chintz. The home's signature color, red--it appears in every room with the exception of the sunroom--lives in full force here, eye-catching against neutral walls. Bamboo shades temper silk swags.
"I love the marriage between the serious and the not-so-serious, the fancy and the not-so-fancy," explains Anna.
In the unabashedly green dining room, the couple's collections take center stage. Plein air paintings--a shared passion--are nestled between Scarlett O'Hara-worthy curtains. China and glassware share space with myriad William Yeoward pieces--a bit of an obsession for Anna.
The kitchen is the most modern space in the fiercely traditional home, opening generously onto the family room--the ideal layout for lazy Sundays watching football games and 60 Minutes while preparing dinner. Or, rather, heating up takeout. "I rarely use the range," laughs Anna. "I used to cook every night, but I'm retired. The kids are grown. Now we use the kitchen as an art gallery."
For a whimsical touch in the family room, floors were painted in a two-tone diagonal pattern with small red squares that match the room's most fought-over piece--the red tufted Papa chair. Named after Alan, aka "Papa," the chair is the center of many a spirited finders-keepers-losers-weepers debate--though the three grandchildren generally lose out to the rightful owner.
While the chair may be Alan's territory, the garden is all Anna's. Once defined by lackluster grassy spaces, it's been transformed into an enchanting retreat overflowing with succulents, roses, hydrangeas, and magnolia trees (in honor of Alan's Southern roots).
Anna's theory on garden design mirrors her philosophy on interior design. "I choose whatever is colorful and appealing," she says. "I mix things that don't seem like they go together, and somehow it all just seems to work."
Wall paint (custom): Benjamin Moore & Co., 888/236-6667.
Chair; table; chest; candle lamp; carpet on stairs; wall panels in stairwell; accessories: owner's collection.
Chair fabric: discontinued.
Table lamp: Vaughan Designs, 212/319-7070.
Chandelier; flooring: original to house.