18 May COVER STORY | WHEN HARRY MET LISA
Lisa Rinna and Harry Hamlin invite us into their cozy French Provincial home in Beverly Hills, resplendent with antiques and family memories
“Harry built the house so that you don’t have to take your shoes off,” says Lisa. It is cozy in that respect, with a lived-in look that signifies a home that has matured over the last twenty years. “I wanted to build a house that got better as it got older. The idea is that the chips and cracks that accumulated over time would add to the effect so it matured like a fine wine. I didn’t want it to look new all the time, he says.”
To see Lisa and Harry’s home now, you would never know that it was once a smaller house with an overgrown backyard that masked the picturesque views of the mountains and the shimmering Catalina in the cleft, in the far distance. To the south, the backyard nosedives into the rolling forest that is Franklin Canyon Park, and to which there is hiking trail access from a side gate. On one side, divided by a canyon atop a hill, sits Jack Nicholson’s house. The canyon below is scattered with golf balls that he drives across the wide open space, and on to Harry and Lisa’s property. “I’ve had a handful of Jack Nicholson’s balls,” says Harry deadpan.
Also in that canyon, lie the remains of a what looks like a rusted Porsche. The area was used by car thieves to strip down the vehicles. There was also a small dwelling owned by Robert Stack, long since burned down, but where it was rumored the Beatles stayed in 1964 when they did their Hollywood Bowl concert. “I thought it was just a realtor’s exaggeration but it turns out one of my neighbors saw Paul McCartney and Heather down there a few years ago.”
The yard itself is enormous, with mature trees, sycamore, bougainvillea, grapefruit trees. They were married in that backyard, with chandeliers from Bountiful adorning the trees. And there we start on the story of Harry’s obsession with flea markets and the house he designed and built in 1986. He says he was Bountiful’s first client when he bought a table from Sue Balmforth at the Rose Bowl in 1982, before she opened her store in Venice. As a result, she ended up designing their backyard wedding.
The house in which Bonnie Raitt once lived, and which Quincy Jones rented, was designed by Harry in the French Provincial style, with heavy reference to Pierre Deux. Harry shows me the original book, complete with post-it markers marking the pages which inspired their kitchen and various other areas around the house. It was built in 1986 with the help of architect Lise Matthews – the entire structure demolished apart from the main stairway. Read more…