Santa Monica designer Brian Alfred Murphy had always dreamed of lighting an entire house with candles. When he met poet Cynthia Walker and screenwriter David Sheffield ("Coming to America" and "Boomerang") three years ago, he found clients willing to indulge his fantasy. Now, though their remodeled 1937 ranch house in the Hollywood Hills is fully wired, Walker and Sheffield frequently choose to bask in the light of more than 100 candles.
Votives and tapers are everywhere: on glass shelves around the fireplace, on shallow ledges in the entryway, on curio cabinets and bathroom counters, on tables and desks. Even in the dining room, a slab of glass suspended from pipe clamps--Murphy's version of a '90s chandelier--is topped with candles. "We start lighting them well before sundown," Walker says, "the candlelight dances on the table at dinner."
When the need arises, of course, electric lights are switched on, but they are hardly conventional. In what has become a signature touch, Murphy took 18 chandeliers (purchased at flea markets and garage sales), powder-coated them white and installed them in a cascade down the new stairwell. One more hangs in the office upstairs; three crystal chandeliers dangle in a small bathroom down the hall.
And natural light abounds, thanks to major remodeling. The house now includes six skylights, rear French doors and balconies and an office wall of windows recycled from the living room. With so much sunlight streaming in, days seem to last forever, while evenings are filled with a romantic glow.