In Living ColorAuthor:Abigail Stone
Adam Hunter adds dynamic drama to a Santa Monica home
The cream-colored interiors of film director Nancy Meyers have become synonymous with L.A.’s Westside. Yet they’re a far cry from the work of Adam Hunter. The interior designer orchestrates voluptuous textures, metallics, bold colors, generously proportioned furniture and accessories to create rooms characterized by what he calls their “restrained drama.” So he was puzzled when the owners of this Santa Monica home dropped the word rustic into the conversation.
“That’s not usually a word I’d use to describe my design,” says Hunter diplomatically. It also seemed at odds with the crisp sophistication that permeated their other desires for the home. “They retain a very New York vibe,” he says, “and it informed everything we did,” noting, as one literal interpretation, their wish for a guest bath inspired by the city’s subway system. “They were looking for something a little edgy,” says Hunter. “They wanted daring. And they really leaned into color.” Hunter delved deeper, intent on discovering what they meant by the discordant word. “We settled on organic,” he says.
Corralling natural and sensual into its definition, it was an astute choice. It encompasses the varying marbles Hunter chose, from the Calacatta Viola used in the formal powder room to the Panda White that comprises the husband’s imposing desk and the dramatic streaked Zebrano chosen for the fireplace wall in the family room. It describes the home’s use of unexpected and tactile shapes, like the formal living room’s coffee table, which juxtaposes a sinuous marble top with a wooden base puzzled together from interlocking wood triangles. And it evokes the depth of the home’s spectrum of rich colors, from the wine mohair that covers the dining room’s chairs to the kitchen’s forest green custom cabinetry, as well as the plump hunter green leather club chairs in the primary bedroom, the range of deep blues employed in the formal living room and the chartreuse poufs in the husband’s office and its paneled white oak walls. “I love anything inspired by nature,” Hunter confesses.
The former thespian—whose Broadway credits include starring roles in Les Miserables and The
Lion King—nods to his theatrical experience in his ability to create a mood by manipulating dynamic textures. “I love materials that seem to reflect and refract light.” Witness the stripes of matte and shine etched into a brass credenza that underlines the dining room’s theatricality or the energetic striations of the wall treatment that wraps the room. The suggestion of serenity is settled over the primary bedroom via the shimmer emitted by the mix of wool and silk in Zebois. Plucked from Hunter’s collection for the Rug Company, its design fuses a wood-grain pattern with that created by the exotic markings of a zebra’s coat. In the formal living room, a bold snakeskin-inspired rug unfurls a hint of drama. It’s tempered by the velvet, threaded with silver strands, which covers that room’s chairs, the pointillist bouclé that wraps the sofa and the demure toile used for the curtains. In the breakfast nook, a pixel-patterned textile dapples the space with the calm quiet of early morning.
In the family room, Hunter found a place for a pair of wicker swinging chairs the clients adored. Although they may seem as incongruous to Hunter’s work as the word rustic, their elegant shape, and the decision to hang them just in front of the French doors that open to the garden, balances the room’s profusion of deep tones and angular shapes. “And how do you not love a swinging chair?” asks Hunter. In fact, it turns out that Hunter incorporates a whimsical—even discordant—element into every room. “It takes a space from the choreographed static of a stage set to the tumultuous energy of real life,” he shares. In the kitchen, that role is played by the complementary trio of glass pendants and the buxom brass hood. In the formal living room, it’s shouldered by the pixie-stick design of the ceiling fixture, the sofa’s unexpected angularity and that sculptural coffee table. In the dining room, it’s the tangled iron pendant that dangles above the custom dining table. It adds an unexpected cheekiness to the flamboyance of that sparkling credenza, the chaotic chiaroscuro of the wall covering and the formality implied by the color of the chairs. In the front entry, it’s the vivacious trellis etched into the pale carpet that winds up the stairs. “The joy,” Hunter notes, “is in finding the mix.”
The result is surprisingly tranquil. “People always get nervous when it comes to color,” Hunter admits. “My trick to making it feel like a neutral is to use one, maybe two colors that are super strong, then ground them with black, white and gray so it reads as calming and peaceful.” Blues and greens, he suggests, are the easiest to work with. “If you think about it, they’re all around us—blue sky, blue water, green grass, green trees. And really, is there anything more soothing than that?”