Space of the Week: Every Cockatoo Needs a Headdress

During a recent trip to Los Angeles, I had the privilege of dining at Dawnridge, the ever-magical house of legendary designer Tony Duquette. A bit of a renaissance man, Duquette, who died in 1999, was a creative force in everything from set design and interiors to jewelry design and costuming. His adoring clients included the Duchess of Windsor, Elizabeth Arden, Liza Minnelli, Doris Duke, and Sharon Stone. When Duquette passed away, his business partner and protégé, Hutton Wilkinson, and Hutton’s wife, Ruth, bought the house, which is perched over a ravine in Beverly Hills, and have been busily further enhancing the stunning property ever since. (Hutton and I co-authored the book Tony Duquette, published in 2007.)

The Drawing RoomThe French doors still show off the original painted plaster, fringed lambrequins that Tony designed when he first built the house in 1949, while the gold panels of cast resin seashells were originally made to decorate a black-tie ball in the sixties. Also sixties era, the Biomorphic console and mirror are Tony’s designs from a residential project. In collaboration with Baker Furniture, Hutton has created a line of reproductions of the console and mirror as well as other signature Duquette pieces, including the sunburst torches flanking the console. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Garden Instead of neatly landscaping the ravine, Tony reveled in its junglelike growth. He added varieties of succulents, mythical sculptures, and small pavilions he called “spirit houses.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Dining Room Off the library, the small dining room has three glass walls, making it feel as if cantilevered over the garden. This table is Lucite; the ceiling is covered in embroidered and appliquéd Indian panels. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Insect A bronze praying mantis. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Tree The Wilkinsons gave this English Regency gold-plated palm tree as a gift to Tony and his artist wife, Beegle, on their 50th anniversary. (Tony gave Beegle her nickname, because he felt she embodied the soaring poetry of the eagle and the industry of the bee.) Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Bird Hutton found this white taxidermy cockatoo in an antiques store and couldn’t resist topping him off with a tiny headdress from Thailand. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Library A sixties portrait of Tony by Marion Pike presides over my favorite room in the house, the cozy library. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Library Furnished with three neo-Gothic bookcases from Tony’s collection, the library is illuminated by a cast-resin sand-dollar fixture, which hangs from the coral-red ceiling. One endlessly fascinating decoration: a petrified tortoise shell above a giant gold-plated antique lobster. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Ladies When the house was completed in 1949, Beegle did a pair of paintings of ladies on pocket doors, which the Wilkinsons only recently discovered hiding in the walls. This lady, carrying a tray, was painted on the door to the kitchen. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The Ladies This lady, with her back to us, was painted on the pocket door that led to the powder room. Hutton took them out of their hidden spaces in the wall and refashioned them as standard-working doors to the new kitchen and new powder room. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: Every Cockatoo Needs a Headdress