In real estate, privacy is usually defined by physical attributes: a security gate, boxwood hedges or a perimeter of mature trees. But it can also refer to the highly personal world a homeowner creates and cultivates within those bounds. A European-style manor, sited on nearly 1.68 acres and set behind a gate, has achieved that magical balance of privacy, where the homeowners — a real estate developer and his socialite wife — feel worlds away from the city while being only steps from the famed Beverly Hills Hotel.
“It’s an enchanting property — a world truly unto its own,” says Christophe Choo of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills, the listing agent for the property, who has attended several parties at the property called Maison 808. “It’s one of those places where you totally forget where you are, and even who you are, and just live in the moment, amid the greenery, waterfalls and stars.”
This was at least part of the homeowner’s vision in 1990, when he decided to combine two prized lots into one. Seeking a local designer who was most experienced at designing grand-scale mansions, he discovered the talents of Budd Holden — by then, one of the most sought-after high-end residential architects in Los Angeles. “He understood how we wanted to live,” says the homeowner.
Holden’s first order of business was designing the 26,800-square-foot main residence. At the homeowner’s direction, he sought to create a home that balanced family living with the needs of formal entertaining. His architectural reference point became the great European maisons of the past. Reverence to the Old World, as expressed through craftsmanship and exquisite detailing, met with a harmonious blend of intimate and grand spaces. “It took over five years to build and over 20 master craftsmen and artisans,” recalls the homeowner.
As seen from the motor court, the impressive façade only hints at the wonders inside. The entry foyer provides the first introduction to the bespoke detailing found throughout the residence. The eye dazzles with a rich display of marble floors and Versailles parquet floors in distressed oak, intricate stonework, antique French crystal chandeliers and beautiful leaded-glass windows and skylights. Hand-set wrought iron curves up a dramatic staircase.
Rounded bay windows — a Holden calling card, according to Choo — provide an element of surprise and offer a vital visual connection to the outside. Custom millwork, as seen in the historically influenced pocket doors, carved wood paneling and thoughtful built-ins, enhances the sense of warmth felt throughout the residence. More than 11 antique marble fireplaces from France, Italy and England grace the home. The his-and-her powder rooms even reveal a stunning level of artistry, with delicate hand-painted Chinoiserie murals on the walls. “No expense was spared and no detail was overlooked,” says Choo.
The main level transitions elegantly from intimate rooms to large entertaining spaces, as seen in the grand salon with its classical symmetry, large media room with a drop-down screen and projection system, lounge with sunken bar, billiards room and two-story wine cellar.
Meanwhile, a two-story wood-paneled library is fit for quieter moments. Upstairs, the master wing feels palatial with over 5,000 square feet, a sitting room, separate bedroom and open his-and-her bathrooms and dressing areas, which are “uncommon,” says the homeowner. “It’s nice to be able to dress together when we get ready for formal events.” Beyond the master wing, four en suite guest bedrooms and an en suite nanny room and office grace the upper level. A second staircase leads to the back of the grand salon and the staff quarters — which encompass two bedrooms, living area and kitchenette.
Beyond the interiors, a modern-day fantasyland beckons with mature trees, manicured flat lawns, championship croquet court and meandering walkways leading you to a lighted sunken tennis court and pavilion. There is a spa, resort-style pool with waterslide and waterfalls, adjoining outdoor kitchen space and two detached guest houses in the park-like setting. A rideable miniature railroad with steam engine and diesel trains, inspired by Walt Disney’s legendary backyard on Carolwood Drive in Holmby Hills, also winds throughout the property for a whimsical touch. “It’s a wonderful house for entertaining,” says the homeowner. “We’ve hosted events and fundraisers with over 600 people in the backyard, including two U.S. presidents and four foreign prime ministers.”
For that reason and many others, Choo sees the property as one of great distinction. “It’s the largest residential property to come on the market in the flats of Beverly Hills,” he says. “From its sheer size and craftsmanship to its legendary location and privacy, Maison 808 is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
806 and 808 Rexford Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90201
Represented by: Christophe Choo of Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage in Beverly Hills