DIGS Blog - Luxury Real Estate Info for Home Enthusiasts

Bel-Air Abode Calls For An Inspired Style Of Living

Imagine endless days spent in the lap of luxury at this brand-new, AMG Capital-built estate in Bel-Air that serves as a private retreat ideally suited to family living and entertaining soirées alike.

Here, one not only will find massive, resort-style grounds boasting an expansive yard with lounge areas, a fire-pit, zero-edge pool, cabana, open-air kitchen and putting green, but also seamless indoor-outdoor environs replete with high-end finishes and upscale amenities throughout. Add it all up, and this lavish yet livable residence exemplifies the sought-after California dream.

“It is very rare to find a flat 22,000-square-foot lot at the end of a cul-de-sac creating your own compound,” says Cindy Ambuehl, who is co-listing the property with Max Hutchison, both of Compass, for $7.750 million.

“AMG Capital does A-plus work throughout, and it shows in every corner of every room, from the really sexy bar lounge, to the oversized kitchen and family room opening to the backyard.”

Found at 15482 Milldale Drive, this six-bedroom, nine-bath smart home offers 7,512 square feet of open, contemporary living space on three levels featuring white oak flooring, soaring ceilings, designer lighting and high-end fixtures.

Among the highlights is a pub-style parlor with a walk-in bar adjacent to the family room; downstairs hideaway with theater, massage room, gym and guest bedroom; and formal dining room outfitted with an attractive glass-encased wine closet.

A professional chef’s kitchen is equipped with dual islands, Wolf appliances, and a butler’s pantry with a secondary refrigerator, cabinetry and counter space, while the plush master suite holds a fireplace, balcony, lounge, trio of walk-in closets, and spa-quality marble bath with a freestanding soaking tub, dual-vanities and steam shower.

“The house is really unique, because it is incredibly hard to find a place this large that has both emotion and functionality,” concludes Ambuehl. “High quality, great design, on trend…it’s a definite must-see.”



Cindy Ambuehl and Max Hutchison of Compass


List Price
$7.750 million

Picture-Perfect Moments In The Santa Monica Mountains

It’s true that Los Angeles County offers many beautiful homes within its vast expanse. But for the discerning buyer, the home with an ideal location and top-notch amenities is the ultimate luxury—and increasingly rare. More than just having opulent materials, the perfect home embodies beauty, flexibility, convenience and ease.

It must be within driving distance of work and the best that the city has to offer, from its multi-star restaurants and world-class museums to its beautiful beaches and wild hills. For frequent travelers, a swift commute to the airport is a necessity too.

It should work for entertaining on a grand scale yet not be overwhelming as a setting for daily life. Perks, such as a butler’s pantry, a pool and spa, a tennis court, housekeeper’s quarters, and parking for at least three cars, are a given; and, it must be private and secluded.

If security is a prime concern, a gated community joins the list of non-negotiables. Weighed against this list of criteria, the inventory of available properties dwindles to a small trickle. Throw in the desire for a stunning view and only a handful of homes remain. Of these, 1458 Bienveneda Avenue is a standout.

“We’ve been here for 25 years,” says the home’s current owner who has watched her children grow from toddlers into adulthood within its walls, “and I couldn’t have imagined any place more perfect.” Located in the desirable Ridgeview Country Estates in Pacific Palisades, just west and north of the new Palisades Village, the home is situated close to the top of a winding road whose every swooping turn renders the stress of daily living a distant memory.

Passing a row of tall cypress trees to the west and a vineyard on the right, the vista conjures up memories of the Italian countryside. Finally comes the exclusive gated community, one of a few in the area, including only 40 homes, each custom built, with an entryway to community staffed, round-the-clock guards.

With the criteria of location met, attention turns to the home itself. The three-story estate does not disappoint. Reminiscent of a Georgian manor, with its multiple columns and a white clapboard exterior punctuated by jet-black shutters, its classic proportions exude both beauty and majesty.

Lush landscaping and a curved driveway soften its grandeur, rendering it welcoming and gracious, qualities that are mirrored in the home’s well-designed interior. Here’s the background for the full spectrum of life’s events. From the casual and intimate to the formal and public, the residence morphs to host them all.

It begins with the generous entryway, underscored by the first floor’s 14-foot-high ceilings. The large foyer and hallway embrace the home’s formal rooms—a living room, spacious dining room, family room and bar—orchestrating them in a dance between unity and autonomy.

The built-in bar is the natural gathering place for get-togethers with close friends; for larger events, designate this space as a drink station, where hired bartenders shake up a bevy of cocktails starring fruit, including apples, oranges and grapefruits, plucked from the estate’s trees. Choose the dining room for a formal sit-down business dinner for a baker’s dozen; for a casual lunch, steer them to the patio’s built-in island.

Scatter large round tables across the back lawn for a charity event or a wedding; set it up with a bouncy house for a children’s birthday. The large kitchen, which corrals both a breakfast nook and a casual seating area, puts a chef and team within earshot of both indoor and outdoor guests, while its large windows offer discrete vantage points from which to monitor the backyard’s activities while a door here enables direct access.

A back staircase, a suite for live-in assistance and a laundry area aid in the smooth and discrete running of a busy household. An additional full-bath, with access to the backyard (the home’s alarm system can be programmed to restrict entry to only this area), enables guests a private place to change and shower.

Large glass-paned doors ensure an easy flow to the home’s expansive backyard. With its surfeit of country club-quality facilities, this is the spot that, taking full advantage of Southern California’s idyllic weather, is destined to become the centerpiece of everyday life.

There’s the plush built-in seating area around the fire pit; a pool sited to rival that of any five-star hotel; and an oversized tennis court that’s been vetted by the some of the state’s top players. (It’s been used as the home court for many of The Riviera Country Club’s most lauded coaches and a junior Maria Sharapova spent time training here.)

Fitted with basketball hoops, it can easily double as the location for weekly pick-up game, as well. With high hedges on two sides and the majestic backdrop of the Santa Monica mountain range as the dramatic scenery to the sprawling 2-acre lot, the treasured and yet often unobtainable gift of privacy is a given here.


From the solitude of morning laps in the pool to afternoon tennis lessons to late nights that end around the fire pit, enjoying bottles brought back from France (a cool room keeps them at their peak, though oenophiles can easily outfit it with a temperature-controlled system), the luxury of solitude underscores the peace and quiet that permeates this home. For indoor activities, look to the immense top floor.

In addition to 1,700-square-feet of storage, which might easily accommodate plenty of sports equipment and holiday decorations, the open plan space also can support a home theater, gaming area, playroom, or a home gym, with a staircase near the master encouraging frequent use.

Seek solitude on the home’s quiet second floor whose en-suite bedrooms enjoy that view described above from the quartet of private balconies that extend along the entire back of the house. Large closets, generous bathrooms and plenty of well-designed built-ins render each room a self-contained sanctuary.

This idea is magnified in the master suite. Waking to hilltop views with nary another home within sight, it’s not hard to imagine oneself in some faraway retreat. This is a Los Angeles few experience. They call it living the dream.


Anthony Marguleas

Amalfi Estates


List Price $9,125,000

BoConcept’s Enduring Craftsmanship

It’s a good time to be selling BoDesign in Southern California. The region’s current bend towards Modernist and Contemporary design means there are countless spaces awaiting the brand’s clean-lined furnishings, as practical as they are urbane, and with the ability to look as au courant today as they likely will for decades to come.

“I just spoke with an architect a few minutes ago,” says Stephanie Duval, franchisee of BoConcept’s Los Angeles and Costa Mesa stores along with her husband Stephane. “She said she bought furniture from BoConcept for a project 15 years ago.” So impressed was the architect with the quality of the pieces, recounts Duval, she was turning to BoConcept once again, to furnish a new project.

Started in the early 1950s by two Danish cabinetmakers, BoConcept has grown to nearly 300 stores internationally, with consumer demand, says Duval, driven by the love of the brand’s “functionality, design, and quality.” Cost is another.

“We are an affordable luxury,” she points out. “Our price point is excellent.” Customers, notes Duval, include those looking to furnish their homes, along with professionals who turn to BoConcept for pieces to adorn boutique hotels, restaurants and corporate spaces. “What architects and designers love about our brand,” she says, “is the fact that we customize, and are so modular that it’s very easy for businesses to use our products.”

It’s this mix of pragmatic design, sophisticated image—BoConcept pieces are often sculptural in look—and the ability for buyers to customize to their heart’s content that is at the core of BoConcept’s calling card and appeal.

When browsing for a new sofa, for instance, one can select the shade and fabric: textured wool, corded velvet and soft leather from South African cowhides are among the substantial options. Materials, Duval divulges, are sourced from around the world, and among them is wood from Canada, fabric from Italy and leather from South America.

Finding the ideal furniture and accessories for one’s space, however, is the province of an interior designer. Someone who understands the interplay of scale, daily use, color and personal style, among other factors, when it comes to selecting the right pieces.

For this, BoConcept offers an in-home designer service. “First, we have a talk with our customer to really understand what they’re looking for,” says Duval of the process. Her team of design consultants studies how customers live and learn what they like. “We don’t sell a piece of furniture,” she remarks. “We sell a concept.”


It’s a concept that translates fluidly across geography, architectural styles, and home size. A modular design, such as the popular Amsterdam, for example, can morph from a sofa to a coffee table, serve as a sectional for the entire family, or as seating for two.

And as one’s place called home evolves, from that first shoebox apartment to a full-fledged house, purchases from BoConcept travel with their owners, and can be seamlessly expanded. A two-seater sofa might be amended with a matching corner sofa, an ottoman, or other complementary pieces from the brand’s expansive collection of design furniture, lighting, and accessories. “You can furnish a very small place in Asia or furnish a huge home in California,” says Duval of the brand’s seemingly endless options. “It’s very exciting.” boconcept.com



The Firehouse Hotel

Hospitality entrepreneur Dustin Lancaster—the mind behind Hotel Covell, Chinatown wine bar and bistro Oriel, among many other well-known projects—had to have patience in undertaking his latest project. It was more than 10 years ago that Lancaster first laid his eyes on the two-story historic building that was home to the Los Angeles Fire Department from 1927 to 1980.

So, in 2016, when the owner asked Lancaster to create a hotel “like Covell” there, he agreed without hesitation. Also an obvious choice for the entrepreneur: partnering with developer (and friend) Tyler Stonebreaker, founder, and CEO of Creative Space. And for the interior design, Lancaster immediately knew he could count on Sally Breer, co-founder of ETC.etera, who previously worked with him on Hotel Covell and Oriel, so this project was a natural continuation of their story.

Last April, the Firehouse Hotel opened in Los Angeles’s Arts District, becoming the very first boutique hospitality project in the neighborhood. Behind the original façade, with its two red doors that pay homage to the building’s past, guests discover a light-filled ground floor dedicated to the community.

It comprises the lobby-reception area; a café; a shop with products curated by Breer’s ETC.etera business partner Jake Rodehuth-Harrison; and a bar and restaurant—led by chef Ashley Abodeely and pastry chef Rose Lawrence—with a patio. The space beyond the patio that was originally used as the firefighters’ handball court has been transformed into a private dining room that can accommodate 30 people seated or 40 to 50 people for cocktail parties.

Bespoke items created exclusively for the hotel by Los Angeles-based designers and makers such as Clare V., Block Shop, Hedley & Bennett and Robert Siegel, as well as design pieces and artworks (from curator and dealer Jonathan Pessin) by Atelier de Troupe, Brendan Ravenhill Studio, Converso and Wolfum, among others, personalize the spaces with a Southern Californian vibe.

All but one of the project’s nine rooms are located on the second floor and each has a door painted a different color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet and white—the black door is on the ground floor), setting the tone of the décor inside. One key element for Breer was to “first and foremost respect the architecture,” she says.

The original wood and concrete floors, factory windows, exposed wood-truss ceilings, pressed-tin panels and niches initially used to house statuettes of the Virgin Mary to protect the firefighters were all preserved to honor the place’s bygone aesthetic and spirit. According to Lancaster, the Firehouse Hotel is “very much about LA love.” Retro and elegant, quirky and cozy, the property has all the ingredients to seduce the local community. firehousela.com





LASVIT A Fresh Design Radiance

When the great Maria Callas stood on the stage at La Scala, she imposed herself like no other, singing with such force, her songs were enough to shake the chandelier from its moorings. If not this precise scene, then it is a close approximation of one similar that designers Jan Plecháč and Henry Wielgus conjured up to create their Neverending Glory collection for Czech glassmaking company LASVIT.

For the design duo, if not all the world’s a stage, as Shakespeare proposed, then perhaps it should be. That is the idea that propelled them to take a theatrical direction in contemporizing the form of classical chandeliers at historic opera houses and concert halls—from La Scala in Milan, Palais Garnier in Paris, and Metropolitan Opera in New York, to the Czech Republic’s Estates Theater in Prague, and Bolshoi Theater in Moscow—to innovate a line to illuminate the au courant abode.

In Wielgus’s words, “The idea for the Neverending Glory collection came to us when we realized how many amazing old crystal chandeliers there are, and that it would be beautiful to give them a fresh form and bring them into modern living and workspaces.”

The collection’s ability to adapt stylistically to an array of residential environments make its exquisitely crafted pendants quite suitable for life in transitional times, when, increasingly, a home’s conventional guest room might also serve as a workspace, a garage loft might be a private studio, and so on.

To this end are options: Neverending Glory offers pendants in three different sizes—Neverending Glory Small debuted last year at Maison et Objet in Paris at half the size of the original collection, and another size, which is halfway between the small and large fixtures, releases this year—in original clear, opal, iridescent and other color versions. Variety of size and shades means more possibilities for styling, either solo, for a single statement, or clustered, like stars.

Striking looks does not belie the fact that this is a solidly constructed collection, one that reflects the art and tradition of hand-blown glass, particularly in the Czech Republic, of which it claims mastery. In the hands of LASVIT designers, it offers precise and rarified beauty.

A product of this rich heritage of craftsmanship, the Neverending Collection is, much like LASVIT itself, a bridge between Old World and New. The recipient of the design “Oscar” at Salone del Mobile, LASVIT is the result of the Czech glassmaking tradition, blending its hand-blown Bohemian soul with a reverence for new technologies and cutting-edge design. In this context, Neverending Glory is not only brilliant, but it also puts the direction of contemporary design in a whole new light. lasvit.com



Change of Scenery

Sea Change

Montage Laguna Beach unveiled a head-to-toe makeover in March, complete with improvements to the property’s lobby, lounge and accommodations. Expect a view of the Pacific from a framed window in the lobby, as well as new Brazilian cherry wood flooring and California-coastal furniture in the lobby and popular lobby lounge.

The 253 updated guestrooms (including suites and bungalows) now boast a muted color palette accented by vibrant pops of steel blue, violet, yellow and chartreuse, along with sustainably sourced furnishings and amenities such as candles by Laguna Candles (with a Montage-specific scent), Matouk throw blankets, and champagne buckets and dog bowls hand-sculpted by the artists of Tina Frey.

“In keeping with the comfortable and classical-chic feel, the resort has always had, we have enhanced the guest experience with refreshed common areas and modernized guestrooms,” says Montage Laguna Beach General Manager Anne-Marie Houston. “And we have raised our own bar to our ongoing commitment to sustainability throughout the resort at all levels.”


30801 S. Coast Hwy. Laguna Beach, CA






Urban Escape

Waikiki’s newest luxury boutique hotel is now accepting online reservations in advance of its Oct. 25 debut. Halekulani Corp.’s Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani—situated adjacent to its sister property, Halekulani—will include 284 guestrooms and four suites with ocean views.

New York City-based interior design firm Champalimaud was tapped to design the land- and water-themed accommodations and public spaces, with local artwork from the Honolulu Museum of Art complementing the decor.

The property also will feature the casual Halekulani Bakery & Restaurant, complete with a variety of pastries, cakes and artisan breads by a baker from the renowned Imperial Hotel Tokyo. Rates range from $350 to $1,100, based on double occupancy.




Frida Kahlo’s Home: Picture Of Her Life.

When the exiled Marxist revolutionary Leon Trotsky came to Coyoacan, a town on the outskirts of Mexico City, he did so at the invitation of artist Frida Kahlo (and the man she married twice, Mexican muralist Diego Rivera).

Trotsky and his wife were welcomed at Frida’s family home Casa Azul, the Blue House, a blue as bold as the woman who was born there, died there, and spent time recovering from a horrendous, life-threatening trolley accident that left her bed-ridden, in a body cast, and alone to explore self-portraiture.

Casa Azul is a portrait of Frida, as well. Constructed in 1904, with a colonial typology, the composition lacks a significant physical configuration (its floor plan, which placed adjoining rooms around a courtyard, was typical of the period), but its engagement with community and culture makes it a building of great consequence, greater than the sum of its parts, and sensitive to poetics.

The home’s original architect is unknown, but Frida’s mannerly father Guillermo, a photographer with an interest in architecture, likely espoused his opinions about its design. While not architecturally experimental, Casa Azul was more than comfortable, a single-story structure with four bedrooms, a living room, dining room, kitchen and servants’ quarters. Plants filled the patio.

Tall windows, French doors and elements of French decorative style on the exterior were fashionable touches. Many books and a German piano certainly helped nurture a sense of the artistic in a growing Frida.

This rich history reverberates through the halls of the current Casa Azul, a world of Frida’s creation, its vivacious palette characteristic of her work and life alike—her artistic depictions, like her dress, are vivid, expressing cultural and feminine identity and strong politics. Ornamented similarly, the house features photos of Lenin, Stalin and Mao, pre-Hispanic artifacts, mirrors and butterflies, and a show of Frida’s constrictive, spine-correcting corsets.

Modifications and expansions have been made to the house, including a wing that Diego constructed, but arguably the most of momentous transformation—its cobalt-blue painted façade—turned the building into art itself. The robust color sets off an oasis of greenery, and the red of its pre-Hispanic pyramid, which serves to integrate Mexico’s indigenous history.

The strong assertion of blue on the exterior gives way to an interior of bright-green trim and yellow accents that highlight a trove of Mexican treasures—crafts, pre-Hispanic artifacts, personal belongings and fascinating works of art by both Frida and Diego.

Rechristened the Frida Kahlo Museum in 1958, four years after her death, at which time Diego bequeathed the building to Mexico, the destination receives art and culture lovers across the world. Magically, visitors find the folkloric charm of Casa Azul in Frida and Diego’s day is much the same. One element, in particular, leaves a lasting impression: Frida’s 1954 work whose name is what Casa Azul still represents—Long Live Life. museofridakahlo.org




Venice Canals Home With Balance

Stunning and remodeled, the Craftsman-style residence of Emmy- and Golden Globe-nominated screenwriter and Cheers executive producer Rob Long has hit the market in Venice for $3.75 million, complete with touches that capture the unique character of yesterday paired with modern-day amenities and today’s style.

Think an outdoor EarthStone pizza oven used and approved by some of America’s most well-known chefs and food writers—including the owners and chef of L.A.’s own Pizzeria Mozza—along with the home’s original green front door; Chinese shutters from a temple in Jian; an original Pierre Madel chandelier from Paris decorating the formal dining room; and curiosities culled from the owner’s lifetime of exotic excursions.

“Venice is home to a lot of fantastically ramshackle houses—early 1900’s bungalows right up against purple steel boxes from the 1980s,” says Long. “I wanted to preserve the California bungalow feel of the house, and at the same time give it a little more air and light.

All I did was clean it up a bit, make more sense of the floor and site plans, and integrate a few things I picked up on my travels.” This includes the Burmese lintel beams that he carried back from Burma after paying a farmer who was tearing down his barn a bottle of Johnnie Walker Blue Label for all three of them.

Found on a private, oversized lot at 514 Altair Place—on one of the most sought-after streets in Venice, near Abbot Kinney and Venice Beach—the home was built in 1909 and updated by architect Beck Taylor in 2000, in one of her first residential designs.

Expect almost 3,000 square feet of warm yet elegant, open and light-filled living space on two levels achieved mostly via skylights, massive doors, cherry wood cabinetry, and Douglas fir flooring. Among the highlights: a gourmet chef’s kitchen with a Sub-Zero refrigerator, handcrafted Le Cornue range from France, butler’s pantry with a duo of built-in wine coolers, a large, built-in bluestone island, and wet bar.

An open living room boasts a gas fireplace, while the ample master retreat sports a spacious en-suite bath, walk-in closet, and terrace overlooking the secluded backyard and patio.

“What I think I love most about the home is that even first-time visitors instantly recognize it’s a house that is filled with amazing memories,” says Long. “Something about it seems to retain and reflect the things that have happened there. It glows—partly the light, partly the Douglas [f]ir and partly the wide-open feeling of the first floor.”



Michael Grady, Natasha Barrett & Jagger Kroener of  The Agency


List Price
$3.75 million



Bel-Air Hilltop Home Floats Above

When a Thai hotel heiress first approached L.A. architect Zoltan E. Pali about building a home for her in Bel-Air, she asked him to craft a spacious and luxurious abode ideal for hosting large affairs and her extended family.

At the same time, she wanted the dwelling to emanate a warm and welcoming feel, as well as a strong connection to nature. The result? A striking, propeller-shaped residence wrapped in a glass wall that mirrors its sweeping views of the Los Angeles Basin from The Getty to Long Beach, Century City and Downtown.

“Each of SPF:architects’ projects is a direct response to the site and the desires of the client—no two are the same,” says Pali, the firm’s founder and design principal. “It was very important to her that it feel open and airy, but also cozy at the same time, and that it engage with the surrounding views, which are pretty much unobstructed from its perch. The shape is a direct result of us trying to balance the program and the needs of the client.”

Situated at 11490 Orum Road, the four-bedroom, four-bath dwelling now is on the market for $56 million, listed by Louis Evans, Taylor Nakaki and Aaron Kirman of Aaron Kirman Group at Compass. Expect 18,800 square feet of open and flowing living space spread out across a trio of wings that radiate from a central core highlighted by a floating, glass-and-steel staircase.

The ground floor consists of the entry and communal gathering spaces such as a family/kitchen area; the second floor is dedicated to private rooms like the master suite; and the basement level, burrowed into the hill, is outfitted with a theater, gym, spa, cedar sauna, service kitchen and 1,000-bottle wine room. Outdoors the grounds host a kitchen; duo of fire pits; LED-lit pool; attached guesthouse; and a main garage that doubles as an event space.

“The wings define the exterior spaces, while the glass (reflective, opaque, translucent and clear) gives the home additional dimension,” says Pali. “Outside, there is a feeling that the building is floating above the site, but still part of the natural landscape; inside, it affords every room in the house with views that stretch in several directions.”




18,800 SQ. FT.





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