Tuscany by trial
by Stephanie Cartozian
In the late 1980s, commercial real estate developer David Buxton and 2016 Palos Verdes Chamber Man Of the Year purchased a one acre lot in Montemalaga for $650,000. The purchase coincided with the 1988 passage of the Neighborhood Compatibility Ordinance. Buxton’s new home plans called for moving 7,000 cubic yards of dirt. The ordinance allowed only 5,000 cubic yards to be moved, forcing him to redesign the house. Using a three-dimensional model of the new design, he convinced the planning commission to allow him to move 10,000 cubic yards. But the process took two years.
“The city had a limit on how large the trucks could be to move the dirt. I showed the city research that proved larger trucks were safer because of the better braking systems. So they allowed the larger trucks for the job but charged a $10,000 ‘wear and tear’ fee,” Buxton said.
Buxton interviewed five architects for his Tuscan villa design.
“We asked each architect to take us to the home they were most proud of.” said Buxton. In the end, Buxton chose Don Hendrickson., “Everybody else wanted $50,000 to do the work. Hendrickson said, ‘If you’re efficient, I can save you money. If you want to spend time, I’ll work with you. I bill on an hourly basis.”
Hendrickson also had the advantage of having been president of the Palos Verdes Estates Art Jury. The fall 2018 Palos Verdes Bulletin, in its remembrance of Hendrickson, wrote, “Some people are so passionate about where they live that they do not just live in their community. Rather, their community lives within them.”
For landscaping, Buxton turned to Don Brinkerhoff, a landscaping pioneer who designed landscapes and waterscapes for over 35 casinos hotels and resorts around the world. He was inducted into the American Gaming Association’s Hall of Fame in 2016. Brinkerhoff is credited with introducing cobblestone-patterned concrete paving and for coining the terms“softscape” and “hardscape.” Brinkerhoff is credited with redesigning the Las Vegas Strip in 1995 and was the designer for Bellagio casino owner Steve Wynn’s private residence.
For the entrance to Burxton’s home, Brinkerhoff designed an alcove with an Italian-inspired fountain.
Brinkerhoff’s landscaping of Buxton’s home earned 1996, the California Landscape Contractor’s Association (CLCA) top award for large residential landscape installation/maintenance. The award was shared with John Marinovich, superintendent for Forsberg Landscaping, who did the installation of plants selected by Ric Dykzeul.
“For an interior designer,” Buxton said, “I referred to Architectural Digest’s top 100 interior designers located one Hendrix Allardyce Design Corporation in West Hollywood. They had a contractor who specialized in residential libraries. They had a specialist in everything that they did.”
“Our home has mahogany windows instead of Douglas Fir, which has a tendency to disintegrate over time. Our floors are walnut, made to look like French oak, but is more durable. The pool fountain is carved out of Italian Limestone, imported from Vincenza, Italy.”
Construction was finally completed in 1996. Buxton’s wife, Ann Buxton, who is a designer, has recently had the interior walls redone in “Tuscan colors” Venetian plaster by Ely de Leon and has updated the crown mouldings. After twenty-three years of being intimately involved with her residence Ann says, “The other day a friend asked me, which room is your favorite? I said it’s the room that I am in at that moment. I hope everyone visiting our home gets inspired by something we have done and goes home and paints a wall or plants a plant that captured their imagination”