By: Sarah Carr
Perched atop a winding hill in Highland Park, the main house on Richard Christiansen’s labyrinthine property is double-stuccoed, sage green under rose pink—the former meant to peek out from the latter over time. Following a redesign in collaboration with Studio KO, Flamingo Estate plays the sun-soaked, golden-hour California girl on its surface. But like the property’s exterior, it’s the green patches—from the frangipani trees shading the pool to the fruit orchards cascading down its seven acres of hillside—that make Flamingo Estate so unique.
Built in 1940 as a creative couple’s hedonistic Eden, some of the estate’s original features—a cheeky 69-step staircase, a handsome fireplace—remain. In the living room, David Hockney’s Caribbean Tea Time screen informs the home’s garden-inspired palette. “There’s color everywhere,” Christiansen says. “It’s designed to bring your mood up.” Elevating pleasure is part of the property’s ethos—and that ethos is best felt in the bathhouse.
Designed under Christiansen’s purview, the hammam-meets-MoCA structure is luxurious, with a practical streak. Christiansen, the son of Australian farmers, is fervent about sustainability. “Water in Los Angeles is a luxury,” he says. “I really wanted the water in the bath to run directly back into the garden.” Enter Jeff Hutchinson, Flamingo Estate’s director of garden and horticulture. Together, the pair used this brief (save the water, support the roses) to create Flamingo Estate’s line of botanical body care products.
If the main house, with its maze of Moroccan tile, terrazzo floors, and carved statues from the Congo, is Flamingo Estate’s gregarious Leo sun, the garden is its hard-working Capricorn moon. On a regenerated plot beyond the red-concrete walkway sits the goat shed. Here, Hutchinson experiments with herbs and flowers for soaps and body oils, while the estate’s hive buzzes away on what will become a batch of biodynamic honey.
At the height of the pandemic, Hutchinson came to Christiansen with a question: Could Flamingo Estate help local farmers sell their restaurant-quality organic produce to the public? His answer: Absolutely. Flamingo Estate’s CSA program, which began in the parking lot of Christiansen’s bookstore, Owl Bureau, is now the Regenerative Farm Box, a curated treasure chest of produce from southern California’s best organic growers, delivered throughout Los Angeles.
Flamingo Estate is not open to the public—it is, after all, Christiansen’s home—but his Highland Park bookstore will soon become Flamingo Estate’s flagship store. In the meantime, explore the Estate at flamingoestate.com.