The recipe rarely changes: Buy a property, invite high-profile designers to tackle specific spaces, create a publicity phenom and sprinkle the entire endeavor with a healthy dose of feel-good charity appeal. Voilà, another showcase house is born when the House of Rock launches in Santa Monica on Saturday night.
There may be no better attention-getting way to flip a property like the 1926 that designer Elaine Culotti purchased two years ago. The 10,000-square-foot home, on almost 2 acres of golf-course-adjacent real estate, was designed by Elmer Grey (architect of the Beverly Hills Hotel, among other places) and had been inhabited by actress-singer Kathryn Grayson from 1945 until her death in 2010.
Culotti, owner of the design firm Porta Bella, was already experienced in buying and renovating Southern California homes. This was her 12th. Culotti christened it the House of Rock and invited designers such as Ralph Pucci, David Bromstad and Sami Hayek to explore the notion of “marrying not just rock but all kinds of music to lifestyle and classical architecture.”
It's not exactly the first approach that comes to mind for a quietly elegant English Cottage-Tudor Revival estate registered with the Santa Monica Landmarks Commission. But Culotti insists that calling it the House of Rock is really just a way of saying music is a metaphor. “This is not a venue for parties or concerts," she said. "This is about using the entire home as a musical instrument.”
She said many of the rooms, including the library, the great room, and even the master bathroom, are hardwired with microphone panels, fiber optics and digital lines so that artists and amateurs alike could record in a variety of environments. Those recordings can be sent to home’s top-floor recording studio where even that off-key Adele impersonation from the shower can be mixed and remastered, making you your very own one-hit wonder.
In the great room designed by Culotti, chain and crystal chandeliers hang above a banquette upholstered in peacock blue fabric and a shimmering sofa done up in silver leaf and brown leather. The musical high note to the room: a Schimmel piano in Lucite.
In the master bedroom, Hayek created all of the furniture, including the walnut bed and credenza with brass details and a chaise in walnut and black leather. The drapes, according the Hayek, are based on the Mexican Revolution. The pattern looks like a 17th century French design, but upon closer inspection you see bullets and rifles.
The idea behind the sitting room, Pucci said in his House of Rock designer's statement, was to re-create the environment of the Rolling Stones’ 1970s "Exile on Main Street," minus "the excess of drugs and alcohol.” Pucci sofa and club chair designs are mixed with a silver-plated, blackened bronze side table by Eric Schmitt and a chandelier made by L.A.-based glass artist Lianne Gold. A series of black-and-white photos by artist Marcus Leatherdale were chosen for the walls.
And that recording studio? Culotti worked on it with Grammy Award-winning music engineer and producer Jack Joseph Puig and Tyler Barth. A series of drop glass light pendants hang above a curving, snake-skin patterned sofa. Culotti soundproofed the ceilings in cottons and silks designed to evoke a piano keyboard, but she said the studio’s technical capabilities are what make it a professional studio -- one estimated to have cost $3.5 million to build.
The House of Rock will be open for private events until December, at which point the house will be put on the market.