Designer Homes

Inside an Amazingly Bold Maximalist Home

Inside an Amazingly Bold Maximalist Home
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Hutton Wilkinson lives by a simple philosophy: “If it isn’t fabulous, it’s meaningless.” The ebullient decorator, who worked side by side with design legend Tony Duquette for more than 25 years, helped outfit some of the most dazzling interiors of the 20th century. As Duquette’s successor, Hutton now runs the studios at Tony Duquette Inc., where the “more is more” approach remains the guiding mantra.

It comes as no surprise, then, that Hutton possesses a flair for extravagance that recalls—and some might even say surpasses—that of his late business partner, as evidenced by his own lavishly gilded, color- and pattern-rich three-story home he shares with his wife, Ruth, in Beverly Hills. Between working, relaxing at home, and hosting grand parties, Hutton lives as he decorates, with gusto.

The street-level entrance opens up to a black-granite stairway, hall, and mezzanine that overlooks the drawing room one floor below. The sunburst light fixture in the entry is by Tony Duquette for Remains Lighting.

The street-level entrance opens up to a black-granite stairway, hall, and mezzanine that overlooks the drawing room one floor below. The sunburst light fixture in the entry is by Tony Duquette for Remains Lighting.

Made of iron, brass, and Lucite, the statement chandelier is three stories tall and cascades down through the house.

Made of iron, brass, and Lucite, the statement chandelier is three stories tall and cascades down through the house.

Chasing His Dream Job

It can be said that Hutton always knew he was destined to work with Duquette. “I learned about Tony Duquette when I was in seventh grade from an article in the Los Angeles Times Home magazine,” he recalls. “I wanted to work with him from that moment on.” A childhood sense of wonder became a passion that fueled his ambition and, eventually, landed him a job with Duquette. “Finally I got my chance when I was 17 years old,” says Hutton, who started working with Duquette and his wife, Elizabeth, out of their Los Angeles work space, a former silent-film studio with “a curtained stage at the end of the living room, where they had orchestras, performances, and served dinner.”

This table is the spot for intimate dinner parties, set against a fantastical Giorgio de Chirico-inspired mural of Venice by Hutton’s artist friend Scarlet Abbott.

This table is the spot for intimate dinner parties, set against a fantastical Giorgio de Chirico-inspired mural of Venice by Hutton’s artist friend Scarlet Abbott.

A little too much is just enough for me! I like opulent, maximalist rooms, and I like to use one-of-a-kind elements.

— Hutton Wilkinson
In the drawing room (and throughout the home) Hutton used a silk-velvet tiger print that was originally woven for Marie Antoinette. Duquette has bought the fabric in the 1960s on a trip to France, where Hubert de Givenchy took him to the weaving factory.

In the drawing room (and throughout the home) Hutton used a silk-velvet tiger print that was originally woven for Marie Antoinette. Duquette has bought the fabric in the 1960s on a trip to France, where Hubert de Givenchy took him to the weaving factory.

Embracing Color Fearlessly

Whereas most people would shy away from a palette that leans on rich primary hues, Hutton would have it no other way. “I’ve never done a white room,” Hutton professes, adding “green is a neutral color.” The verdant hue, a clear favorite, is found in bright spurts throughout the home. But the predominant palette Hutton chose for his home, best seen in the drawing room, bears a special significance. “Tony and I always fantasized about making a coral, black, and gold room,” Hutton says. “And without knowing it I did it subconsciously.”

The 11-foot-high dining room features 18th-century Venetian chairs and an antique Chinese rug. Hutton split up a 12-panel coromandel screen from JF Chen and placed three panels in each corner of the room.

The 11-foot-high dining room features 18th-century Venetian chairs and an antique Chinese rug. Hutton split up a 12-panel coromandel screen from JF Chen and placed three panels in each corner of the room.

I live for old movies. You can learn all about decorating, table manners, chic dressing, and stylish living from old black-and-white films!

— Hutton Wilkinson
Displayed on the dining table are gilded Indian figures of maharajas riding elephants and golden bronze palm candlesticks by Codognato, the famed Venetian jeweler.

Displayed on the dining table are gilded Indian figures of maharajas riding elephants and golden bronze palm candlesticks by Codognato, the famed Venetian jeweler.

Seventeenth-century Venetian paintings hang above a console created by costume designer Don Loper in the 1940s. The 18th-century Chinese lacquer coral branches are from the collection of Elsie de Wolfe.

Seventeenth-century Venetian paintings hang above a console created by costume designer Don Loper in the 1940s. The 18th-century Chinese lacquer coral branches are from the collection of Elsie de Wolfe.

Hutton filled his cozy library with South American treasures that speak to his own family’s history, including paintings and accents from his mother’s haciendas in southern Peru and Bolivia.

Hutton filled his cozy library with South American treasures that speak to his own family’s history, including paintings and accents from his mother’s haciendas in southern Peru and Bolivia.

Pieces with special significance, including a small portrait of an ancestor, are showcased in a corner.

Pieces with special significance, including a small portrait of an ancestor, are showcased in a corner.

Living Boldly (and Comfortably)

While the rooms in Hutton’s home may lean toward the precious, every room is used, and “comfort comes first,” Hutton says. “Comfort is style. After you get comfort out of the way, then you can embellish.” Case in point: The library, where Hutton enjoys reading and entertaining friends with predinner cocktails, was designed for relaxing and modern-day living, with a deep sofa topped with down pillows, swivel armchairs, plenty of lights, and a fireplace. “If you really dissect my rooms, they are extremely simple,” Hutton explains. “Plain fabrics, simple frames, everything floor to ceiling, wall to wall. Simple but rich colors, not a lot of trim or fluff, but a lot of layering.”

Family photographs include, on the left, one of Hutton’s grandfather, who was president of Bolivia from 1934 to 1936, and another of his grandmother on her honeymoon. The Spanish Colonial archangels on gilded columns are from an antiques show.

Family photographs include, on the left, one of Hutton’s grandfather, who was president of Bolivia from 1934 to 1936, and another of his grandmother on her honeymoon. The Spanish Colonial archangels on gilded columns are from an antiques show.

Lacquered in emerald green, the built-in wall-to-wall bookcases are home to eclectic objects, such as scale models and seashells, as well as a colorful array of favorite books.

Lacquered in emerald green, the built-in wall-to-wall bookcases are home to eclectic objects, such as scale models and seashells, as well as a colorful array of favorite books.

Opulence trickles down to the smallest of details in the house, such as sculptural doorknobs in the form of hands.

Opulence trickles down to the smallest of details in the house, such as sculptural doorknobs in the form of hands.

We love anything beautiful, unusual, or rare. And we love a good bargain—and finding a treasure that no one else has recognized as one.

— Hutton Wilkinson
In a passage near the entry, an 18th-century statue of an Italian saint stands guard by an abalone shell, a coral branch, and a pearl display case made by Duquette.

In a passage near the entry, an 18th-century statue of an Italian saint stands guard by an abalone shell, a coral branch, and a pearl display case made by Duquette.

A carved-teak-and-mirror wall—which conceals two secret doors—provides an extravagant backdrop to a Venetian secretary.

A carved-teak-and-mirror wall—which conceals two secret doors—provides an extravagant backdrop to a Venetian secretary.

Hutton perches on a 1940s sofa by Duquette originally made for Doris Duke’s home.

Hutton perches on a 1940s sofa by Duquette originally made for Doris Duke’s home.

PEEK INSIDE DAWNRIDGE

This garden room inside Dawnridge is testament to the late Duquette’s legacy and fearless approach to pattern: The walls are upholstered in the decorator’s malachite-print cotton fabric, which he designed for Jim Thompson, while the malachite-pattern silk rug was a design for Roubini.

This garden room inside Dawnridge is testament to the late Duquette’s legacy and fearless approach to pattern: The walls are upholstered in the decorator’s malachite-print cotton fabric, which he designed for Jim Thompson, while the malachite-pattern silk rug was a design for Roubini.

The Lavish Host with the Mostest

“My wife and I love to entertain,” says Hutton. “I obsess over guest lists, party themes, and menus.” He seems to be always in the midst of planning dinners and decked-out soirées that end up taking place at Dawnridge, Tony Duquette’s estate that Hutton purchased after his mentor’s passing. “We have a warehouse full of props, party decorations, costumes, dishes, etc.,” Hutton says. “Everything we need to change the mood and have a party!” Even a standard dinner is often a formal affair. “Dressing in black tie is not an unusual event for us.”

Breakfast or lunch for eight or fewer guests is typically served in the garden room at Dawnridge.

Breakfast or lunch for eight or fewer guests is typically served in the garden room at Dawnridge.

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Join the Discussion

Join the Discussion

7 Responses to “Inside an Amazingly Bold Maximalist Home”

  1. Traci Sims says:

    Wow!!!

  2. The Reticulate says:

    Damn. This is AWEsome.

  3. Erica says:

    Elegance all the way

  4. Kimberly B Stone says:

    Go big or go home.

  5. Nancy Whitehead says:

    I’m at a loss for words.! I would love to be a fly on the wall at one of their parties….

  6. Olive Greenz says:

    Magnificent rooms that won’t fade in the background no matter how fabulous a woman’s gown is. After all, the rooms and the exquisite decor is the reason for such breathtaking artistry. Thank you.

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