Home Feels Advantage
Whether they showcase art, light, space, or eclectic finds, these four homes celebrate their owners’ passions and pastimes
Patrick DuffyHome Is Where the Art Is
Patrick Duffy’s art-filled two-story home in Spanish Oaks is like three exclamation points in an email: effusive and upbeat, unabashed in its enthusiasm, wanting you to share the joy. We’re not kidding about “art-filled,” either; you will search in vain for a flat surface, vertical or horizontal, that doesn’t display artwork of one kind or another. In the bathrooms, yes; atop the bedroom dresser, of course; on the wall above the microwave — you needn’t ask.
This is clearly not primarily about a collector showcasing his canny investments. (His eye-roll is almost audible when the subject of “investment” comes up; he likens the prospects of making a killing selling art to winning Powerball.) No, this home is a statement about living amid beauty. “It really illuminates my day,” he says. “My day begins on a different note because of the way we live than if we lived in a stark minimalist house.”
Duffy’s passion for art isn’t channeled through one easily identified aesthetic. Or two or three. His collecting habits, informed by research but guided by passion, are omnivorous. Name an art style and he’ll have it. “The one thing I always start with is the visceral,” he says of choosing art. “Boom! It hits there first, then it goes up to whatever I have churning upstairs — which these days isn’t much (laughs) — and then the two come together.” As happened recently when he bought 100 watercolors of food by a Reno artist after seeing a few of them in an exhibit. Duffy was floored. “I just had to live with all of them,” he says. He’s still figuring out where to hang them.
He’s arranged his hundreds of pieces in a refreshingly non-hierarchical fashion: Just inside the front door, the stairs to the open loft curve past a vivid painting by local artist Wendy Kveck, which overlooks a work by Jim freaking Dine. “Each of these pieces somehow have to talk to each other,” he says, “even if they’re from different neighborhoods, different continents, different time periods.” So, in an upstairs sitting room, a giant hyperrealist painting of a face is engaged in an ongoing energy exchange with a large, neo-expressionist painting of a face across the way; it’s almost palpable. Such arrangements are “absolutely intuitive. And it really only happens at the moment I decide.”
All this dialoguing includes him, too. “When I go down to get my coffee, every piece I pass, I remember the when, where, why, the artist’s name, how much.” And because it’s an international collection, this daily infusion of memories whisks him around the world: Belgium, London, Reykjavik, upstate New York, Laguna Beach. As he says, “I’m able to travel through these pieces.” Scott Dickensheets
A Radiant Place for a Moment of Zen
Kim Bavington’s home is rarely without chaos. A mother of two and owner of Art Classes for Kids, her home is a constant conglomeration of rowdy children and chatting parents.
This makes the tranquilizing nature of her indoor atrium, located just feet from the entryway, seem all the more incongruous — but it serves a purpose much more significant than simple aesthetic value. “We live in this super-busy world where we’re never taking down time,” she says. “It’s nice to have a calm, zen environment. People usually come in here to just have a chill-out moment.”
Teaching art to kids, however rewarding, seems like a job lacking many opportunities to achieve that zen. Thankfully, along with the other charms of her home — the vintage furniture and idiosyncratic art (including a 10-foot mural painted by her children) — the atrium’s neutral walls and landscape embody her focus on life: light, color, and space.
“What I do for a living … light, color, and space are a big part of what I preach,” she says before reflecting on a short and miserable period of time she spent living in Paris. “It’s gray like nine months out of the year, you don’t have any wide-open spaces. I was depressed.”
The serene setup is accentuated by a bamboo tree, growing tall and healthy despite being in the desert, and by the bright red mobile she bought more than 20 years ago, which she is quick to assure isn’t a real Alexander Calder, though it looks like one.
“I’m really passionate about art, but I’m really passionate about architecture,” she says. She gestures to the original blueprint of the house, now framed on her wall.
Built in 1963, the home’s architects had visions well ahead of their time. The indoor atrium was their way of bringing outdoor elements inside, in a way that opens up the home and merges modern art with classic nature — and now, years later, subliminally brings together Bavington’s upbeat personality and passion for art in the perfect space. Stephanie Madrid
Sara Ortiz and Stephen Siwinski
Mid-Century Minimalism With a Personal Touch
“I’m always editing; I edit everything,” Sara Ortiz says, sitting in the carefully edited living room of her home near Midtown. A mental habit of refined selection is useful in her day job as program manager for the Beverly Rogers, Carol C. Harter Black Mountain Institute, where she curates — that tiresome word! — cultural events.
You will be tempted to say she and her partner Steve Siwinski curate their home, too. Look at this room: Not a molecule out of place, everything — including emptiness — carefully chosen and assigned its role in this performance of mid-mod minimalism. One end of the room glows with the neon sign from a defunct erotica bookstore, Desert Books — “Sara likes books, and I like the desert; it’s perfect,” Steve says brightly. On the old-school patterned floor, period furniture is arrayed around the space-age lines of an Adrian Pearsall coffee table. That orange wallpaper? Original. Historical continuity matters to these two.
But curating isn’t quite the right word for the dynamic of this space; no, editing is better, with its firmer connotation of unremitting subtraction. You can almost hear the disappointed sighs of every knickknack and kitschy doodad denied a spot here. Fun fact: Sara says there’s a closet full of artwork that isn’t hung because they both can’t agree on it.
Yet for all this severe selectivity, the effect isn’t at all aloof or fastidious; the essentialism is warmed by neon and natural light, and by the expectation of sociability cued subtly by the absence of a TV and other technologies of distraction. You instinctively grasp that if you’re lucky enough to be edited into this room, it’s to engage with others. It is, to quote one recent visitor, “rad.”
A similar aesthetic is at play elsewhere in the house: neon brightens the guestroom and kitchen, a neatly organized, not overstuffed bookshelf jazzes up the office.
The pair goes to great lengths to ensure the period appropriateness of their home. Vintage stores and yard sales are de rigueur. “We’re lucky to live in a city that came of age in the midcentury time,” Steve says. Now that those original homes and furnishings are falling to the next generation, excellent pieces show up on the secondhand market. A story about that coffee table: “We were driving through a neighborhood yard sale,” Steve says, “and we decided to go down one last street. We drove by this house, and I saw the edge of an Adrian Pearsall table and knew exactly what it was. I pulled over so fast I almost didn’t put the car in park.”
“You didn’t put the car in park!” Sara corrects.
A wonderful addition to their home, they got it for a bargain $300 — totally worth the brush with death.
Daz Weller and Toby Allen
A Constantly Changing Tableau of Repurposed Beauty
Daz Weller has a thing for chairs. Oh, wait, he clarifies: He has a thing for beautiful chairs.
“I love this bird chair, the black one,” he says, gesturing toward one of many seats in his and husband Toby Allen’s living room. “Have a sit in it. It’s so comfortable, it swallows you, and you can kind of rock in it, and it’s got a little wing for each of the kids” — Weller and Allen’s 6-year-old twins — “so they can come and sit and you can read to them.”
In the room there’s also a B&B Italia metropolitan chair that Weller estimates is worth a few thousand dollars but which he got for a hundred bucks at a casino auction; and a bulbous tongue chair made of aluminum strips that’s based on one in New York’s Cooper Hewitt Museum, another auction steal; and another chair and couch designed by Kettal — all collected from auctions, estate sales, Craigslist, thrift stores, dumpsters, pretty much any secondhand source that’s got good stuff.
And Weller’s obsession extends way beyond chairs. In the eight years since the couple moved into the single-story spread in Rancho Nevada Estates, he’s packed it with unique, well-designed furniture and art pieces. He’s got an eye for valuable items and experience flipping good buys.
“I used to do it back home when I was an actor in Australia — just kind of go to auctions and pick stuff I like and sell what I didn’t want to keep,” he says.
Now the artistic director of Cockroach Theatre, Weller doesn’t have much time to indulge his passion. Still, his new role has led him to snag certain irresistible things. Just in case they could serve as set pieces … someday. (He’s got two full storage units, one for himself, and one for the theater.)
Is it ever too much for Allen, who describes himself as the more left-brained of the couple?
“I have the utmost faith in Daz and what he attaches to, or doesn’t, or thinks is worth moving on,” he says. “I love the fact that the place changes all the time. I joke about coming home from work and not knowing whose house I’m in, but it’s great. It keeps life varied.”
Still, he admits: “Over the years, we’ve gotten to the point sometimes where we’re just like, ‘We can’t have another chair in the house.’” Heidi Kyser