Raising the bar

Barbara Thornburg is senior style editor at the magazine. Contact her at

Artist Kharlene Boxenbaum knows the power of a focal point. At her modern Beverly Hills home, it’s the 23-foot-long steel plinth, covered in quartz CaesarStone, that seems to float from her patio into the landscape. Boxenbaum thinks of the shimmery surface, a gathering spot for parties and barbecues, as “functional sculpture.”

“It has a kind of James Turrell look,” she says, referring to the artist who uses light and indeterminate space to extend and enhance perception. “When I’m standing in the kitchen and looking out, the plinth seems to go on forever.”

Culver City architect Steven Ehrlich designed the plinth to complement the home he designed three years ago. The Boxenbaums “wanted to be able to entertain outdoors and barbecue under the lanai,” Ehrlich says. “The plinth is really a visual extension of the kitchen countertops, which are covered in the same white CaesarStone.”

Supported by three steel columns painted charcoal to disappear into the shadows of the yard, the plinth, with its built-in Viking barbecue, serves as cooktop, bar, buffet and sometime dining table.


The Boxenbaums, who frequently open their home for charity and political events, love the piece’s versatility. The first function, Boxenbaum recalls, was a catered dinner for 135 people that used the indoor dining room table and the long plinth as buffets. “The glass doors slid away to create one seamless indoor-outdoor space--everyone just flowed inside and out,” says the artist, who shares the two-story house with her husband Chuck, a real estate investor. Boxenbaum is so enamored of the multifaceted buffet that she recently dreamed up yet another use: “I think you could even lie down at the end of it and sunbathe.”

The big idea is easy to steal: Long, bright surface, “hidden” supports--and a sense of endless possibilities.




Dimensions: Top: 23 feet long, 3 feet wide and 14 inches high; supports: 22 inches high.

Materials: Steel and white CaesarStone.

Cost: About $ 15,000.

ARCHITECT: Ehrlich Architects, Culver City, (310) 838-9700.


Landscape: Nancy Goslee Power & Associates, Santa Monica, (310) 264-0266.