In the hills overlooking Los Angeles, art patron Chara Schreyer commissions a sensational setting for her electrifying collection
TEXT BY CHRISTOPHER BAGLEY | PHOTOGRAPHY BY ROGER DAVIES
When you’re a prominent collector and your house is full of works by major artists, one nice perk is that if you invite those artists over for a cocktail party, they are likely to show up. Of course, one risk is that they might not appreciate the way you’ve chosen to display their work. This was a concern for collector and museum patron Chara Schreyer recently, when she hosted a gathering at her new Los Angeles home for a group that included photographer Catherine Opie. Among the Opie pieces Schreyer owns are two haunting images of L.A. freeway overpasses that she had hung not in her airy, pristine living spaces but in a small room upstairs—the laundry room, to be exact.
“I’m not sure Cathy was so happy when she realized where they were, but she was very gracious about it,” recalls Schreyer with a laugh. Opie no doubt understood that her work is in exceptionally good company, joining important pieces by such artists as Donald Judd, Lee Bontecou, Andy Warhol, and Robert Gober. Indeed, Schreyer, who is based in the Bay Area and has much of her collection spread between four other gallery-like California homes, says she chose this house in part because it had the perfect wall for a beloved Judd sculpture, a stack of reflective steel-and-Plexiglas boxes that comes fully alive when natural light hits it from both sides.
Not that the residence looks much like it did when she bought it. A spec house built almost eight years ago, the structure had a simplicity that appealed to Schreyer, who was also captivated by the views spanning from downtown to the Pacific Ocean. Best of all, the building codes allowed her to completely overhaul the place as long as she kept its existing footprint.
For that job she called upon Gary Hutton, the designer of all her homes over the past three decades, and architectural designer Joe McRitchie, a new collaborator. Both men knew that Schreyer—a trustee of several museums, including L.A.’s Hammer and Museum of Contemporary Art—has one primary rule: The art always gets star billing. “Essentially the house is a museum,” McRitchie says, “but it had to have a softness that allows people to live in it.” That meant adding warm touches like the slats of Douglas fir on the façade and ceilings to balance the expanses of concrete, Corian, and glass.
The architecture firm McRitchie Design collaborated with Gary Hutton Design on the renovation of collector Chara Schreyer’s gallery-like Los Angeles home, which has expansive views of the city. In the family room, a multipanel collage work by Mark Bradford and one of Donald Judd’s Stack sculptures overlook a sofa designed by Piero Lissoni for Living Divani, an angular Council bench, a pair of Poul Kjærholm steel-and-rope chairs by Fritz Hansen, and a B&B Italia cocktail table; the carpet was custom made by Tai Ping.