Lifestyle Examiner received a copy of an extraordinary book called, BARBIE PENTHOUSE: A Chronicle of the Epic Renovation of the Famed Barbie Penthouse by NICOLE SASSAMAN
To begin, this is unlike any other on the market. It arrived in a slipcase, but not just any slipcase, it is covered in a brown high nap fabric that simulates suede and has gold lettering on the front and spine. The book itself has a lovely, Chi-Chi Nicole Sassaman on the cover in a very modern bedroom. She is wearing a pale pink fluid dress with a fuzzy shrug in matching color and in her hand is a clear case filled with lotions, and Barbie-doll type clothing.
(We wrote about Nicole Sassaman most recently for her book, 100 Sassy Tips: Renovations.)
Now for the story, Nicole and her daughter were able to acquire a property that previously belonged to Ruth and Elliot Handler, the founders of the real-life, iconic Barbie doll. The apartment is located in Century City in Los Angeles called Century Towers and designed by IM Pei.
The story of how Barbie came to be is also an interesting tale. In 1956, the Mattel company created and owned by the Handlers was on its way to becoming a premier toy company. Apparently, while vacationing in Austria and Switzerland, Ruth was shopping in Lucerne and saw a store window with miniature, lifelike dolls dressed in ski attire. The unusual thing about his doll however, was that it had three-dimensional proportions: waist, hips and breasts—that glorious but unbelievable Barbie-type figure. The marketing ploy was that if you wanted to dress the doll in different clothing, you had to buy another doll! Paper dolls were the answer to that in America, but Ruth felt, this actual real life body doll added a whole new dimension and of course, we know that Barbie just flew off the shelves.
Back to the apartment: Nicole purchased the penthouse from Barbara Handler, Ruth and Elliot’s daughter, and lovingly restored it in 2012. Ms. Sassaman had designed 10 other units in Century Towers and spent two years redesigning this penthouse as an homage to Barbie and her crew.
Nicole created this mainly as a tribute to her hard-working team, and the book showcases the homes stunning views, custom Di Giulio kitchen, La Cornue stove and range and much more. It serves as a modern interpretation of the Barbie Dream House. Nicole says, “The Barbie book was originally designed to honor all of the people who work for me and to show the before and after pictures of the space. As life evolved, so did the book. It is now a showpiece for the top brands and artists that are a part of the space as well as my crew,” said Nicole, “Like Sassy Tips, it was designed to teach and inspire people about the possibilities in design and construction. The book flows with all of these intentions in it and I hope that it holds more meaning than your average design book.”
Nicole says, “The Barbie book was originally designed to honor all of the people who work for me …”
The book features full page glossy art depicting all areas of the apartment, created using high-end materials and fixtures. It is modern, sleek and full of glass views, shiny metallics, sumptuous textures and expensive fixtures. There is also a sense of whimsy amongst all these features as there are photos, and memorabilia about Barbie scattered throughout.
Does it pertain to real life decorating? Today’s homeowner can take away much from this book. To begin, Nicole Sassaman has an uncanny use and feel of her surroundings, meaning her spatial ability helps to put things in proportion. She knows how to make things grand by simple room planning. There is always plenty of “open space” to rest your eyes upon so even though there are many furnishings, and better still, storage to keep the clutter of life behind hidden doors and spaces and that adds (and takes away) much.
And while a homeowner might not be able to purchase or afford miles of real marble, unique lighted glass cabinetry, there are lower-end replicas on the market to achieve the same type of look at a much more amenable price point. What I like quite a bit are the “Before and After” photos as there is much to be learned from an analysis. And Nicole adds tips on how the effect was achieved.
Nicole also used a neutral and metallic color palette so the space is enhanced by flowing into the next area—adding to the seamlessness.
One thing to die for in this fantasy-type roomscape is a unique piece of equipment called a Topbrewer—a machine that sits under-counter and the only thing you see is a large curved fixture—but this fixture, with the aid of an app and mobile device, dispenses espresso, latte and various types of coffee and waters. Heaven! If you’re going to dream big, this is a great first step.
The Reader should be able to spend countless hours studying this design tour de force and come away with a better understanding of how the penultimate can add to their education of what great design can capture. The book is very pricey though at $195.
About Nicole Sassaman:
Nicole Sassaman is the leading home lifestyle expert on buying and renovating real estate, including savvy design ideas to add value to your home – within any budget. She has been featured on HGTV, Fine Living and the Style Network showing viewers smart ways to invest in their own homes – whether they intend to sell or not. Nicole is known as one of the most successful home flippers in California and has designed and sold more than 100 residences in Los Angeles, including in luxury high-rise buildings in Century City, the Greta Garbo estate, and homes in the Hollywood Hills, Beverly Hills and Malibu.