eagle's nest

Barbara Barry creates an interior in a Brentwood Italianate serene enough to soothe the soul of rocker Glenn Frey of the Eagles and his energetic brood House and Garden February, 2000

"Pond -scum green" is the color that greets musician and actor Glenn Frey when he walks through his front door in Los Angeles. Or so the mischievous Eagles guitarist can't resist joking. In truth, the shade is one of those elusive almost-neutrals in which designer Barbara Berry specializes: a calming, citrusy hue that seems to dissolve into the khaki-green-ivory spectrum enveloping the entire house. Walls, upholstered furniture, draperies, wood tonesall is of a single, enfolding piece. "The idea," says Barry, "is to create places that a hug around you." Those hugged in the embrace of Barry World are Frey, his wife Cindy, and their two children, Taylor and Deacon. What Barry has wrought inside their uncompromising Brentwood Italianate house is both more svelte and distinctly less showy than the prevailing aesthetic of the city outside. "If the phone wasn't ringing when I come in," Frey observes, "I wouldn't know that it was L.A." And that, according to Barry, is the point. Tranquility is her overriding aim ("You make many simple choices to achieve it, as opposed to giving in to all your impulses"), and it dovetails neatly with her clients' needs. "We have a lot going on in our lives-- rock and roll, golf, kids, family, charity-- and we didn't want a lot going on in our home environment," says Frey. "We wanted a haven." That is what Barry gave them, working in association with designer Will McGaul. (The pair also did the Freys' "golf goes Zen" retreat in Palm Springs.) Barry's rooms exert the quietest sensual pull. A single chartreuse pillow gleams amid taupes and grays. Softly tailored chairs in the master bedroom tug at the eye and brain with their subliminal hint of blush. A sleek ottoman beckons with a subtle velvety texture. The pleasures of a Barry room are not always apparent at first glance. "Sometimes a client feels it's too quiet, repetitious, boring," Barry admits with the smile of a woman husbanding secrets. She finds her drama in the details. "It's all about that little leg flaring out," she says, patting a settee that presides over the entry hall. Or the way a little stripe echoes in a herringbone sisal matting, in a pillow, in a ribbed-walnut sideboard, in the gray-browns of a Barry-designed Tibetan rug. "You may not notice it," Barry says of her small harmonies, "but you psyche will." Time is as elusive as color in the world according to Barry. The Frey house simmers with certain Deco-inspired glamour and a strain of 1930s Jean-Michael Frank style, but it inhabits no particular period. "I don't care about antiques," declares Barry. "I don't care about the provenance of things, the fineness of things. I'm more interested in design. I want only handsome pieces that work well together. I'm always trying to find a threat of connectedness between things." That thread brings a reissued Mariano Fortuny chandelier of hand painted silk (the original was made in Venice, circa the 1920s) together in the Frey's dining room with a nineteenth-century Japanese screen and a 1940 American table by Baker. Barry reworked this table with a black stain and surrounded it with ivory velvet, roll-backed dining chairs she designed as part of her own line for Baker--one of the projects that have turned her into something of media phenomenon. There are the Tibetan rugs for Tufenkian; the office collection for HBF, a division of the Lane Company; and the pristine array of house wares assembled in the LaJolla Avenue place that Barry used to call home. Now she calls it Barry Home, and its careful setting- open only to her clients- house everything from her champagne/water tumblers to the "perfect porcelain teacup"; from her ideal silver tray to five kinds of mattress pads. "Everything but the husband," she cracks. "We furnish

everything for our clients, right down to the sheeting and the linens," says Barry, sitting in the Freys' capacious kitchen and tapping one of those slender Barbara Barry water glasses so that it chimes. "We work really hard to finish a house out, so the client will feel comfortable as a hostess." The result, she says with an aplomb that Martha Stewart might envy, is "a house that is like a kit of parts for basic elegance." And more, of course. In the end, the Frey house is a splendid backdrop for human beings, who pop out against its studied tranquility as vividly as bowls of green apples that a favorite Barry accessory. "It's an easy house to live in," says Frey. His eyes dance with a final thought. "When Barbara designs a house, there are still places to put your things," he says laughing. "Those pictures I see in magazines- if I walked in with a bag of groceries or a jacket, where would I put them?"

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