It all started with a simple stair runner. Hollywood business manager Harley Neuman and his husband, real estate agent Daniel Lam, were concerned that their beloved dog, a German shorthaired pointer named Cooper, was getting on in years and needed a little extra traction going up and down the stairs.
So, on the advice of Ellen DeGeneres, a longtime client of Neuman’s, the couple reached out to designer Jane Hallworth, who had worked with DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi on the renovation of the famed Brody house in Los Angeles.
The rug assignment quickly snowballed, as these things so often do, to encompass a wholesale reimagining of the ground floor of Neuman and Lam’s 1950s house in the hills above the Chateau Marmont. “It turned out to be the most expensive runner I ever bought,” quips Neuman, whose client list includes Ryan Murphy, Scarlett Johansson, Netflix chief Ted Sarandos, and many more of Tinseltown’s most potent potentates.
“Jane said, ‘Your house doesn’t have a narrative, and some of it feels dated.’ It was like a knife through the heart,” Lam recalls of his initial meetings with the designer. Hallworth’s recollection is slightly less pointed: “Daniel and Harley are obsessed with art and design. They have great taste and amazing things. The house just needed to be a bit more cohesive. It needed a through line,” she explains.
And thus the adventure began. The new vibe, or through line, of Lam and Neuman’s refreshed home—masculine, tailored, machinelike—is distilled with particular brio in the living room, where a Carlo Scarpa Cornaro sofa, upholstered in a Loro Piana cashmere herringbone men’s suiting fabric, is joined by a Jean Prouvé daybed (once owned by DeGeneres) and Charlotte Perriand stools.
The ensemble is set beneath a monumental Hallworth Maven chandelier, 78 inches in diameter, with a drop of only 20 inches, so the sight lines remain clear and unobstructed. Hallworth’s boldest move in the space, however, was to cover one wall of the room in patinated brass panels, with a fireplace surround of highly figured marble. “The hearth itself is pretty modest in size, and off-center, which made it hard to work around. The marble visually expands the room’s footprint,” Hallworth observes.
Facing the fireplace wall is a new set of floor-to-ceiling bleached-teak bookcases, which mediate the transition to the adjacent lounge/media room, where the palette is purposefully scuro, in contrast to the chiaro of the living room.
The walls of the space are swathed in Loro Piana chestnut cashmere, and the decor includes a velvet-covered India Mahdavi sofa, Philip Arctander and Viggo Boesen chairs covered in cozy shearling, and a bespoke Hallworth Constellation chandelier that traces Neuman’s star sign. “The room feels well-appointed but not overly decorated or precious,” Lam observes. “The most important thing is that it’s super-comfortable. My grandma had plastic covers on the furniture, so you knew where you weren’t supposed to sit. Here, you’re welcome to sit anywhere,” he adds.
The same mood of understated, masculine luxury extends into the dining room, where the walls are once again upholstered in cashmere—this time a chalk stripe in tobacco and black—and the furnishings are centered on a Douglas fir dining table surrounded by a suite of Børge Mogensen chairs.
Accenting the composition is a Hans Wegner rosewood sideboard and a vintage Mario Botta Shogun lamp, “perfectly chipped and faded, like a grand old dame,” says Hallworth. “It all goes back to the narrative we kept discussing. These rooms feel collected, not faddish,” Neuman adds.
Rounding out Hallworth’s ground-floor sweep is the double-height entry/stair hall, which the designer envisioned as an intimate gallery space illuminated by a large oculus, new metal-framed windows with translucent glass that obscures neighboring structures, and a graphic lighting fixture made from antique Czech glass globes arrayed by the designer on a metal armature.
“The globes felt like acorns dropping out of the sky, so I arranged them on branches. The piece feels like a mobile, and it creates a dance of shadows throughout the day. It really activates the space,” Hallworth says.
And what of the stair runner that ignited the whole project? Hallworth obliged with a lovely handwoven stripe pattern in shades of chocolate, gray, cream, and tobacco. Cooper apparently loves it—so much so that he frequently claws at it like a cat.
The day may come for a replacement, but, given the precedent, a new carpet could very well trigger a whole new round of renovations. For the happy homeowners, at least, it’s all par for the course. “It’s like Auntie Mame around here,” Lam confesses. “There’s always a new project.”
The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all.