Architecture // Design

Essential Nature

With enduring American-made designs. LA-Based Kalon Studios is elevating the art of sustainable craft.

Written by Jenn Thornton | Photography by Paul Jonason And Courtesy of Kalon Studios

In 2007, mere months before the nation’s economic collapse, husband-and-wife design team Johann Pauwen and Michaele Simmering launched Kalon Studios in Los Angeles—a manifestly risky move, given the climate of the times, but one of solid resolve indicating a gut-level trust in collaboration and vision. In the years since, the company has merged its makers’ passion for contemporary design, simplicity and uncompromising sustainability into honest, functional furnishings.

If Kalon Studios has a backbone, it’s need—a pared-down practicality that sent Johann and Michaele in search of a crib for their first child. Unable to find one that met their aesthetic needs and environmental ethics, they conceptualized their own—the lo Crib, the first of many Kalon kids’ furnishings. The design world took notice, and within a year of its founding, Time magazine crowned Kalon as one of the world’s most influential green companies—now with several collections and an array of furnishings, from chairs and tables to dressers and beds.

“Johann and I are kind of dream chasers,” says Michaele, of the couple’s associative confidence that has buoyed Kalon from the beginning. “We really believed in what we were doing.” Uniquely, as partners in business and in life, as well as parents to two young daughters (namesakes of Kalon’s first two cribs), Johann and Michaele are unhampered by creative discord. “There’s very little disagreement when it comes to design or the design process,” says Johann, adding that the rare difference of opinion is opportunity to methodically refine a design to its very essence. Solution, he explains, is in the space of exchange. Important to clarify, however, is that change does not mean compromise—something neither designer is willing to do as it pertains to vision and sustainability.


This artistic synergy carries over to their work—durable design that gently dialogues with its environment. “We design what is essential to us,” Michaele explains. “There’s not a lot of frivolous furniture that we make. There’s an understanding that furniture should last for a really long time. People get tired of things, so something that blends into the environment and embraces the larger context—that speaks to each of us deeply.” With sustainability as a cornerstone of all Kalon creates, pieces are  handcrafted in the U.S. by a small group of traditional craftspeople using locally harvested wood from sustainably managed forests. As a material, wood is synonymous with endurance and develops a distinguishable richness over time. “Wood ages in a way that doesn’t degrade the aesthetic or functional quality of the material,” Johann explains. “It’s a natural, abundant and traditional material. Humans have used wood for everything—for tools, for shelter. It lends itself to so many things. You can shape it, glue it, burn it, bend it,” and, Michaele adds, “repair it, which adds this whole other quality that other materials don’t have.” Beyond all this is varied grain structure and color—wood is not uniform. Rather than aggressively assert itself in a space, it occupies it with heirloom ease.

Johann and Michaele’s source references include a foundation of interests (traditional Japanese craft, Shaker design, their everyday lives), but they are equally fascinated by a new process, material or concept. Utility, they explain, does not make an object less beautiful; it’s the rational parts of a design that influence what it ultimately becomes. This sense of facility is “inextricably linked to Southern California,” says Michaele. “It is such a casual culture here, and there’s an effortless aspect to our aesthetic that fits the light, breezy California lifestyle.”

Forthcoming for Kalon Studios is a dining table and complementary pieces, along with an expanded 100-percent natural and organic mattress line. Its founding design team, meanwhile, also has co-founded Rift, a next generation American manufacturing facility where “we will not only be building furniture for ourselves,” Michaele says, “but also for select designers and furniture brands.” Kalon Studios has in all ways, it seems, proven to be a mirror image of its designs—built to last.


At Home on the Hill

Relax with elevated style in a Beach Modern Abode

Written by Joclene Davey | Photography by Paul Jonason

Stetched gracefully along a spacious 7500-square-foot lot rests an exquisite beach modern home. Set in the highly sought Manhattan Beach Hill section, the home is nestled perfectly into a quiet section of 9th Street, with sweeping city and mountain views. This splendid sanctuary combines indoor/outdoor living for both entertaining and enjoying the beach lifestyle.

Immediately upon entering the five-bedroom, four-and-a-half bath residence one simply feels at home. There is a distinctive aura of comfortable sophistication about the space that is luxurious and relaxed with glimpses of mid-century flair. “We had a desire to build a beach modern home with warmth and elegance that reflected the modern aesthetic with traditional undertones,” explains architect Robert Riblet. The reverse floor plan introduces an impressive foyer with black slate floors and 16-foot vaulted ceilings boasting abundant space. “The idea,” continues Riblet, “was to create an entry tower that welcomed people into the home; from there, the plan opens up and flows to the rear with the northerly city view.”

Just past the entry and impressive office the open floor plan with towering vaulted ceilings brings one to the main living spaces. To the left awaits a dramatic dining area with built-in cabinetry, and a quaint sitting area for conversation during a pre-dinner cocktail hour.

With over 5,000 square feet of living space, designer Peter Rothe of Reynold’s Development shares, “Given these large spaces our goal is to make them feel intimate despite their size.” Furthermore, in the aforementioned sitting area, a pair of grand-scale mid-century modern chandeliers loom overhead, dictating a special place for adults to gather. Conveniently situated directly across from this area is a walk-in refrigerated wine cellar, beautifully crafted with glass windows. “Having living spaces on the upper level allows for interesting ceiling details and voluminous spaces,” says Riblet. As a result, the kitchen has a wonderful open feeling, with lovely pendant lights dangling artfully above the breakfast bar. Unique touches define this beach modern home, including extraordinary lighting selections, mixing stacked glass mosaic tiles with quartz and Carrara marble counters and large-scale subway tiles, all paired with gorgeous white oak wood floors throughout. “The challenge I clearly faced,” Rothe relays, “was the vaulted ceilings. I drew inspiration from Union Station’s use of large chandeliers that help fill the space creating a warmer feeling in such an immense space.”

Adjacent is the family room, with a beautiful stacked quartzite fireplace and large windows with mountain views. The kitchen and family room both have massive glass disappearing sliders that open the entire back of the home to the outdoor deck. This substantial outdoor living space includes a built-in gas grill and spiral staircase leading to a large backyard.

Entertainment Style

A sprawling home in Palos Verdes Estates combines elegance and comfort for pleasure and parties

Written by Nicole Borgenicht | Photography by Paul Jonason
Offered by Rick Edler, Edler Derenzis Group, Vista Sotheby’s International Realty
List price $4,650,000

With a festive spirit, this corner lot estate home harmoniously blends Europeanchic and California-comfort design to accommodate the generous lifestyle of a large family, and gatherings for friends and associates. Homeowners Don and Dianne Ecker have regaled many via their indoor-outdoor great room with marble counter bar and grill; heated second level multi-service deck; distinctive putting range area and spectacular, 3,000-bottle capacity wine cellar. Glorious fountains invite all into the gated estate, featuring a nearly 6,000-square-foot home with five bedrooms and four bathrooms within a sprawling configuration.

Describing their lifestyle, Don says: “My wife and I recently celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary and had a wonderful party that provided intimate conversation areas for folks in the California room, great room, bar (indoor and outdoor), and with everything being open, with the doors, it still had the feel of everyone being together as well as providing a great flow through all of the areas. We have also had parties with up to 200 people, as there are so many places to mingle and converse. It truly is a home that can scale from small intimate groups to large functions and holiday special events seamlessly.”

Upstairs, the master bedroom has a terrific coastline view; a balcony and sunken bath, and a large walk-in closet. One can even sit in the spa tub and steam bath and watch the sunset. The second-story deck, outside the master, leads to two  additional bedrooms, and has a full outdoor kitchen and barbecue. The Eckers say, “We have enjoyed meals and drinks on the upper deck alone or with close friends to view the sunsets and ocean… and will have great memories for years to come. There is also radiant heat on the balcony and our dog Maggie enjoys lounging on the deck—yes, she is a princess.”

A spiral staircase gives the house a grand entry. Stone fireplaces are in the great room and California room, plus indoor-outdoor flooring with radiant heating and comfortable travertine seating. A well-modeled New York Sunken Bar, eye-level with seated guests and featuring a copper sink and marble top, is surrounded by leather seating and an Old World European tapestry to talk about. The Eckers frequently combine century-old family antiques with contemporary California ease.

The golf course is a huge benefit for family and guests and, Don says, “A personal item that is very special to us…our grandsons are 8 and 11 and have grown up wanting to go out and putt with Papa during their visits; and then on the flipside, it’s a great area for folks to hang out and drink wine and golf during parties. The individual who designed the estate’s two-tier putting greens, was in charge of the greens at Trump National Golf Course…where he was truly a visionary in developing the flow and design.”

Another specialty of this estate comprises the aforementioned wine cellar designed by Don and his daughter. “We have an electronic inventory tracking system with column and row numbers to manage the wine,” says Don. “We have had some great parties with up to 20 people who have hung out in the wine cellar going up the ladder, pulling magnums and enjoying the tasting, it’s truly an experience. The cellar is completely sealed like a space ship, and has a separate cooling system to keep the wine at optimal levels, using two split-air units to keep the temperature between 55-59 or 57 degrees.”

This property also boasts five fountains, including a Signature Travertine fountain from Italy, and an oversized Jacuzzi with waterfalls by the golf course. Encircling walls and wrought iron fencing maintains safety and privacy for children and animals. In addition, 2816 Via Anapaca has a lovely English outdoor garden. Revealing their outdoor plan, Don says, “Our goal was to have numerous  settings and vistas with different feels as friends and family joined us…we were successful in creating this private estate feeling.”

Material details in the home include “warm” carved hickory on the second floor, chosen by Dianne, and stone hand selected by their friends, the Battaglias, who also helped with patio and countertop decisions on the main floor, the double mud Spanish tiles on the roof, and a media room with video games on a big screen for the kids and their friends as part of the family room.

The estate’s large corner lot is within prime proximity to the beach, schools and shopping. The Eckers have created their own private paradise at home with waterfalls, a spa and heated balcony views—one that would be hard for anyone to leave. But as the Eckers say, “We will miss our home, but we want to move closer to our children and grandchildren at this stage of our life.” This Palos Verdes Estates home is ready to be the place for new joyful experiences.

Polished Home

A five-bedroom Cape Cod abode in a prime Brentwood location offers casual elegance and high walkability for the very definition of easy living.

Written by Abigial Stone | Photography by Paul Jonason
Presented by F. Ron Smith, Partners Trust
Designed by Architecture West
Built by Ecogreen Construction
List price $4,790,000

The slender triangle bordered by San Vicente, Wilshire and 26th Street, and which enfolds Brentwood Country Club, is one of Brentwood’s hidden gems. While much of Los Angeles is car-centric, one of this lush neighborhood’s charms is its walkability. To Brentwood Country Mart for coffee or some shopping; to eateries like Toscana and Sugarfish along San Vicente; to Vicente Market, Whole Foods or Brentwood Farmers’ Market for groceries. This is an area in which one can experience the forgotten pleasures of an afternoon stroll or a romantic evening walk home. And, within this enclave sits 916 S. Gretna Green.

The promise of casual glamour put forth by the Cape Cod-style of the home’s exterior—a grass-crete driveway, a portico over the entry, and a tree casting shade over the front yard—is amplified the moment you step through the door. With pale French Oak floors, soaring ceilings and a view that stretches from the front door to the back of the house, the initial impression is of light and space. Here, one pauses to take it all in before entering the open-plan living room. A coffered ceiling over the attached dining room, a temperature-controlled wine closet that holds 500 bottles and a well-placed coat closet and powder room are some of the thoughtful details that make these rooms perfect for refined entertaining. Unlike some homes that bring the kitchen into the living area, the formal living room and dining room at the front of the house have been subtlety separated from the kitchen and family room that stretch across the back of the house. A chef, hired for the evening, would be right at home in the expansive gourmet kitchen, with its generously proportioned Carrara marble-topped island and long breakfast bar, plus the latest appliances—drawer microwave, Wolf range, Sub-Zero refrigerator, durable CultureStone counters. With the chaos of meal preparations removed from prying eyes, dinner appears as if by magic.

All this, and yet, the home—its deft design balancing formal and informal, open-plan rooms with divided spaces—just as easily supports casual entertaining.

Bi-fold doors fully open the family room to the backyard, celebrating the indooroutdoor lifestyle that is a hallmark of everything that’s great about living in Los Angeles. Mornings feel a little less harried when they begin with a morning swim in the pool and the day feels a little less stressful when it ends with a soak in the Jacuzzi. The smallest details have been attended to in this home’s creation: there’s a door to the outside for when the bi-fold doors are closed; easy-care porcelain tiled floors handle feet wet from swimming and a coffee bar is poised for action. Sitting outside in the garden at night, glass of wine in-hand, light from the family room illuminates the home’s other occupants and serenity descends.

With five bedrooms, four upstairs and one downstairs, each with its own private bath, this house easily invites a generous assortment of family, guests, or live-in assistance. Upstairs, too, thoughtful gestures enhance fine living. Cement tiled floors are not only beautiful, but their texture is warm and soft underfoot and, because of their porous qualities, unlikely to be slippery. Water-saving Toto  toilets offer bidet features. The tiled laundry room keeps this area immaculate and within easy reach of generous closet spaces whose storage areas are tucked behind glass doors. The master bathroom is designed to give individual inhabitants their own space. The window over the Jacuzzi spa tub frosts over at a flick of the switch, ensuring privacy while also welcoming light. The balcony in the master suite looks out over the backyard and there’s a smaller bedroom nearby that’s perfect for a baby’s room. The two bedrooms upfront, one with a balcony, are perfect for older children or guests. There’s a small terrace and a cozy sitting area on the second floor landing just outside these rooms, with space for a desk so that parents can monitor the computer use of young children. Downstairs, just to the right of the front door, is another office, perfectly placed for keeping an eye on comings and goings.

Some homes are designed for the moment. Not this one. Created with style and ease in mind, this home is designed for forever.

Twice As Nice

Promising infinite possibilities, a pair of lot-sharing town-homes make for one appealing property

Written by Wendy Bowman

The entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well with these luxurious oversized townhomes situated on a beautiful corner lot at 12127 Dorothy Street—at the intersection of Gretna Green Way—within walking distance from a weekly farmers’ market and first-rate shops and restaurants in the heart of Los Angeles’ charming and affluent Brentwood area. From a landlord’s dream (two separate units with no rent control and leases projected upwards of $12,000) to a home of one’s own, infinite possibilities await the new owners of this sweet Mediterranean-style compound built in 2005.

“One of the most interesting things about this property is that it could be subdivided—meaning after you buy them, you could sell one off—or you could live in one and rent the other,” says listing agent John Hathorn of Santa Monica based real estate firm Pence Hathorn Silver, Partners Trust. “It also could be a great family compound, and it even pencils out as just an investment if someone wanted another couple of rental properties. Any way you look at it—occupying both, renting both, or living in one while renting the other—all help defray the cost of ownership,” he adds. “That’s what the client is doing now; he lives in the bigger house and has a tenant in the smaller house.”

At more than 5,000 square feet, the front six-bedroom, six-and-a-half bath gated town-home—Unit 102—recently was updated and is completely turnkey with a new kitchen brandishing professional-grade, stainless-steel Viking appliances, designer cabinetry and a large granite-topped center island; modernized baths; an acoustically enhanced movie theater; and attractive brick-paved courtyards and patios. Special touches throughout include chandeliers, a copper-inlaid ceiling and hardwood flooring. The second home on the lot—Unit 101—is a tad smaller, at about 4,000 square feet, and encompasses five bedrooms and five-and-a-half baths. Many of the same details are apparent in both of the multilevel homes, including a light and airy open floor plan with plenty of towering ceilings, sliding pocket doors and terraced balconies; formal dining and living rooms; a family room featuring a cozy fireplace; and a spacious master suite with walk-in closet, fireplace, and bath featuring a relaxing spa tub, standalone shower, and his and her vanities. Rounding out the special appeal of each individual unit is a fully finished basement with laundry room and direct access to a private garage, as well as a huge rooftop sundeck with city and mountain views that’s perfect for entertaining, and a small maintenance-free yard.

“Brentwood is a actually a big market—you could be in Brentwood Hills or Brentwood Park on the 1-acre parcels or one of the canyons like Mandeville or Kenter,” Hathorn says. “There also are lots of condos and town-homes, and there are rental properties … but if you just want to own rental units, you are usually limited to small apartments or condos.

“This is sort of the best of both worlds,” he adds. “You have the size, scale and big basement of a single-family home, but not the maintenance headache of property that a house like this might typically be found on.”

This Brentwood gem is a rare find indeed, offering everything from access to a cadre of amenities in one of L.A.’s best places to live, along with a combined 9,000-plus square feet of living space on a single parcel of land. Welcome home!

Three Stories Tall

A Beach Home Bathed in Natural Light Glows- Inside and Out.

Written by Nicole Borgenicht | Presented by Ellis Posner of Teles Properties
List Price $5,000,000
For more information and 3D and video tour, visit

Spanning nearly 6,000 square feet, this California beach-modern abode in Redondo Beach houses several exclusive features. Among them is an alluring steel and teak staircase (“one of the key design elements of the house,” say homeowners Alan and Lindsay Ho); designer lighting, from chandeliers to multiple elegant pendant fixtures; up to 14-foot ceilings, and a big elevator to accommodate a large multigenerational family (including small children, teens and grandparents) and their lifestyle. As such, the Hos chose an area three blocks from the beach for their expansive custom build.

As co-owner of custom lighting company INLIGHT International with her sisters, Lindsay Ho designed the home’s wonderful glass, Swarovski crystals and stainless steel lighting on dimmers. The company also custom fabricated the staircase, various built-in cabinets and bamboo doors.

Smooth stucco, bamboo siding and quartz stone on the outside, with a three-car garage, this contemporary home is built with slick surface wood flooring leading to a double wide indoor-outdoor family room, spacious bedrooms and a luxurious living room. In addition, there is 500 square feet of decks and balconies on which to enjoy the beach air and an ocean rooftop view. The six-bedroom, seven-bathroom home also includes a private suite on the first floor. “The East and West on the third level are divided by a library and another bedroom for our young child, which is easy access for the master bedroom, but also far enough to allow privacy. The library provides the ideal space to do homework and as a hang out with the kids, while the family room was used frequently for family TV time. The en-suite on the first floor is completely secluded from the rest of the bedrooms, perfect for our parents who come and visit a few days a week,” says Lindsay.

Highlights in the home comprise the aforementioned indoor-outdoor family room with media and outdoor terrace great for parties, as well as the rooftop deck (furniture optional). It has an ocean view, as does the master bedroom. The master bath is equipped with a sunken tub and river rock tiling. Plus the gourmet kitchen has an Iron Chef commercial grade stove, as used on the Food Network show. There is a 48” Subzero fridge, food warmer, beverage and wine fridge, plus modern kitchen bar seating and tables arranged for social kitchen area gatherings.

With so many distinctive qualities, this Redondo Beach Beauty has been a featured “Home of The Week” in the Los Angeles Times.

A gorgeous wall of windows coats the house, filling the home with natural light that gives it a glow, while lighting dimmers treat its three stories to variable moods, day or night. Naturally, the Hos say, “We get spectacular views of the sunset, ocean and the Palos Verdes hills, not to mention a lot of light and warmth during the winter. Electronic blinds throughout the house provide protection against the sun and privacy when needed.”

With so many distinctive qualities, this Redondo Beach beauty has been a featured “Home of the Week” in the Los Angeles Times. After all, given its address on a friendly street—one of the quietest in the area—with a historic home next door and generations of homeowners in the quaint community just one block west of Pacific Coast Highway, the house is a headliner.

Revitalized Living

A fresh take on the modern farmhouse in Manhattan Beach.

Written by Joclene Davey | Photography by Paul Jonason
Offered by Randi and Stewart Fournier of Fournier & Fournier/MRG, INC.
List price $4,449,000

Perfectly located in a quiet pocket of Ardmore is a home that strikes a harmonious balance between beach-modern and traditional-farmhouse. Elevated high above the street, the home towers over treetops and the green belt in a stately manner. The lovely manicured front yard is quite expansive, providing space for a quintessential front porch that runs the length of the 4463-square-foot home. Considering the well-timed opening of The Point, close proximity to Manhattan Beach Country Club and renovation plans for Manhattan Village, this pedestrian-friendly property combines the feeling of downtown living with the tranquility and breadth of a tree section location. Sitting on a 7500-square-foot lot, the home is high priority among discerning buyers, with two stories, five bedrooms, a yard, plus a pool and Jacuzzi.

Upon entering the home, its sheer volume is evident via an infinite sense of space. Ceilings soar to 26 feet with windows climbing the full height of the wall. Credit the profuse light to transom windows installed above all outer windows and inner doorways on the first floor, as well as colossal French doors throughout.

“The theme for the house was to build upon the juxtaposition of traditional farmhouse elements, while blending them with the modern contemporary home,” explains builder Matt Armato of Titan & Co. A perfect example of this combination is the European distressed wide plank oak flooring arranged in a herringbone pattern, representing traditional style, with hardware and cleaner moldings promoting a modern aesthetic. Equally notable are carefully selected colors; soft contemporary Benjamin Moore paints in classic white; soft, greenish-blue Sea Glass, and for cabinetry, Morning Dew. While tempered blues and greens add to the overall serenity of the home, white and ecru tones lay a minimalist foundation that highlights its special features. The culmination of these themes brings forth a comforting and revitalizing sensibility.

Clearly, this residence benefits from impeccable planning by architect Dave Watson, with a floor-plan that carefully balances openness and separation. After ambling through the foyer into the large family room with a grand Carrara marble fireplace, open kitchen and breakfast nook, a hallway leads from living room to guest quarters, along the way passing a lovely pair of sea-glass blue barn doors that slide open and close off the large den. This flexible space also opens to the backyard through French doors, thus creating the option of having an enclosed television room with built-in surround sound for a home theater feeling, or a huge open playroom for kids to bounce to and from the grassy lawn. Uniquely, especially given today’s focus on the open concept, this home reflects the growing desire for residences with intimate spaces. Adding privacy are the home’s windows, which are strategically placed to conceal the sights and sounds of Ardmore from any level or angle. The exception is its two front rooms, which create a sort of buffer between the street and the back of the home, where life takes place.

Enhancing the home’s uniqueness are its details. Individually inspired Carrara marble designs, like that which is used for the aforementioned monumental fireplace, are featured throughout, for flooring and countertops in the kitchen and baths.

Comparatively, white subway tiles of differing format and size are used in each bath for fluidity and fluctuation. In the kitchen, a built-in farm table was installed in lieu of the typical high bar for a true farm-kitchen feeling. The adjacent breakfast nook, which is surrounded by large, high-rising windows, imparts a feeling of dining outside.

Noteworthy custom wainscoting draws attention, as do intriguing cabinets with mesh paneling reminiscent of chicken wire, done in upscale fashion. For the entertainer, a large butler pantry with an authentic farmhouse design, plus its own walk-in pantry, are meticulously placed between the kitchen and formal dining room. The more traditionally detailed dining room houses a tailor-made built-in wine cellar for easy access during dinner parties.

Moving up to the large open landing, the bedroom layout is consistent with an open floor plan, but with hallways and linen closets separating spaces. All bedrooms include walk-in closets, private bathrooms and hardwood floors, with most featuring vaulted ceilings. The master suite is separated from the other bedrooms and craft room by a loft area with built-in cabinetry and a large balcony; ideal for an open homework area, office or TV room. After passing through the master’s small foyer, the ceilings impressively climb to where they overlook beautiful maple trees that help reinforce the home’s contemporary farmhouse style, transporting one to another place. The enormous closet, meanwhile, has carefully appointed built-in dressers; separate his-and-her walk-in closets, and a window seat for easy dressing. The master bath is dreamy with a freestanding soaker tub, polished chrome plumbing fixtures, faucets and hardware.

The peaceful backyard is a lovely retreat with a large salt-water pool and Jacuzzi. Furthermore, the entire backside of the home opens up to an extensive wrap-around deck adorned with Pennsylvania blue stone and vintage inspired light fixtures. Similarly, there’s carry over from the color scheme with white glass tiles and blue stonework in the pool area. The pebble tech pool surface is a deeper blue that better retains heat and evokes the Mediterranean Sea. Beautiful landscaping and bright green grass surround the pool and scads of deck space. Equally impressive, the marble outdoor shower and powder room make for perfect pool companions.

The home’s details and selling points are vast. While offering the opportunity for a revitalizing lifestyle with a sparkling pool, invigorating design and pedestrian capabilities, this fresh-take modern farmhouse is a must-see. By the same token, Armato concludes, “The house is flexible and intentionally created to be a pliable home that a family would never outgrow. It is a home that you can blend living casually and entertaining formally together.” From all perspectives, the builder has not missed a beat in creating a model Manhattan Beach lifestyle home.

More Than Meets the Eye

Interior designer Noelle Parks brings fresh, urbane flavor to South Bay homes.

Most creatives can relate to the phenomenon of stumbling across their most promising ideas while off the clock. It’s the random street scene, a visit to an unfamiliar spot or even going through the motions of an everyday mundane task that can bring forth inspirational gold when one least expects it. For interior designer Noelle Parks, new ideas might spark while flipping through a magazine, traveling or walking down the street with a friend. “Different places we walk, or even something they’ll talk about, will inspire an idea,” she explains, sitting in her sunny, white-washed studio and showroom, Noelle Interiors, located on Manhattan Avenue.

Since starting her design business in 2005, Parks has been called on to bring her creative acumen to a slew of South Bay homes that range in style from wood-filled French Country and sleek Mid-Century Modern to crisp, colorful Beach Cottage and Plantation-style homes. Her versatility and strict fidelity to the aesthetic premise of a given structure are among her strong suits, honed in part from years of working with architects, notably Jim Fasola at Manhattan Beach’s Fasola Architects, where she was in-house designer for over three years.

“It is important to coordinate my designs with the style of the architecture,” she says. “I love walking through spaces where the interior design and architecture are in harmony, down to the finishes and all the little details.” Her tutelage in building, however, began years earlier in small-town West Virginia. “My dad is a contractor, so I grew up on the job site, ever since I was a little kid,” says Parks, who recalls packing her car just a day after graduating from West Virginia University with an interior design degree and heading to California.

Though Parks’ firm tackles projects across the style spectrum, there is a distinct  ribbon that cuts across all their endeavors. “I do have a contemporary spin on any style we do,” she says of her handprint, which is au courant and beach friendly, yet sophisticated by way of studied layers and clean angles, large-format patterns and soft, fresh color. “I’m more about bigger forms and shapes versus little tiny curvilinear details.” It’s an approach that is elemental and holistic, and takes the full territory of a home into account, rather than “design that’s just to fill a space with a bunch of decor and furniture.”

“Every piece is unique and really makes sense and you can’t live without it in the space,” the designer says of the finished product. “Chevron is one of my favorite patterns, so you will see that a lot in my projects. I also love white, and blue and gray, so sometimes it’s hard to pull me away from those.” These and other signatures are well represented in her showroom, which opened in June 2014 and is tastefully equipped with custom pillows and furniture, much of it designed by Parks herself. There are also woven textiles, rolled bolts of rich fabrics and tidy design stations where her associates work away.

The space is situated amidst a row of restaurants and boutiques, a location that encourages people to stop by and take a look. “I just love being right on Manhattan Avenue,” says Parks. And if one is looking for some help with their DIY design project, she offers consultations that include an hour-long visit to the space in question, followed by a presentation board from the designer. With all the moving parts involved in even the most straightforward design projects, Parks insists there are many benefits to getting a pro’s eye on your project, someone who can say, “This is how you can keep moving forward to make it all look good in the end.”

Noelle Interiors
815 Manhattan Avenue
Manhattan Beach, CA 90266

Southern Warmth

A traditional home mingles the ease of Southern California living with old world graciousness and enjoyment.

Written by Abigial Stone | Photography by Paul Jonason
Presented by Beverly and Kimberly Gold, Gibson International
List price $6,995,000

Though it’s just over a mile walk to the Village of Pacific Palisades, Ridgeview Country Estates seems a world away from Los Angeles and, indeed, from the challenges of the modern world. The wide and curving streets of the 24-hour guard-gated community just north of Sunset offer a secluded setting for early morning jogs and after-dinner walks, a safe haven for young children on bikes and teenagers on hoverboards, and a place where owners of canine companions greet neighbors who’ve become friends. Tucked within this area, on a quiet cul-de-sac,is 1459 Via Cresta. With its white columned façade set back from the street across a wide swath of lush green lawn, it evokes another time, when afternoons were meant for conversing on the porch. This gracious and welcoming entrance sets the stage for a home that is generously proportioned yet intimate in scale.

Carrying this initial impression of elegance throughout the home are custom details: a highly polished wood floor that spreads out from the front door, a graceful wooden banister, carved baseboards and window cornices. To the left of the entrance is the formal living room, which is centered around one of the home’s seven fireplaces. The adjacent dining room offers a temperature-controlled wine cellar that stores close to 500 bottles. All showcase the home’s formal side, a perfect setting for a sit-down dinner or an elegant cocktail party. French doors separate these rooms from the back of the house.

It’s beyond those doors that the home reveals its playful and casual heart. The bright and inviting French country-style open plan kitchen wraps a family room, dining nook and breakfast bar into its embrace. Bright light seems to emanate from the whitewashed brick on the floor and fireplace wall. Glass-paned doors open one side of this room to both the exterior and a unique heated outdoor living room. It’s easy to imagine days spent out here, one hour rolling into the next, playing darts or a game of pool on the full-sized pool table. Armchair athletes, meanwhile, can watch their favorite team on a television cleverly hidden inside a cabinet. As the sun spreads its rays over the distant Santa Monica coastline, friends arrive for drinks, brightened with citrus from the property’s fruit trees, before a dinner of steaks is grilled to perfection on the built-in outdoor barbecue. Adults linger around the pool and Jacuzzi while the kids scurry off to play basketball or practice their ollies on the half-pipe skateboard ramp set on the hillside just below the garden level.

When the weather turns chilly or damp, the upstairs library, with its finely carved wooden pub imported from England, home theater and fireplace, offer the perfect refuge for watching movies or just hanging out. Little wonder that this is the house where everyone finds themselves—it was designed for easy entertaining.

The home’s private spaces are as carefully considered and comfortable as its public ones. The spacious master bedroom embraces sweeping views of the mountains and beach, along with the Ferris wheel on the Santa Monica Pier shimmering in the distance. The window in the steam shower over the spa tub frames the pristine Santa Monica Mountains to the north. Adding further magnificence to this suite’s amenities, one of the home’s six bedrooms has been converted into a closet, ensuring that its inhabitants have ample room for clothing and accessories. Two other bedrooms on this floor also enjoy generous closet space and bathrooms. A terrace off the master bedroom is an intimate spot in which to enjoy a quiet tête-à-tête outdoors, while a sitting porch overlooks the front of the house.

At 6,200 square feet, the home’s generous floor plan also offers two additional guest suites that may be used as either bedrooms or home offices. One, tucked into the first floor with a view of the front lawn, is the perfect spot from which to keep an eye on small children tumbling on the grass or the comings and goings of household staff. The other, boasting a fireplace and just upstairs from the library, mirrors the master bedroom’s sweeping views. Public and private, secluded and convenient, intimate and grand, elegant and informal—why choose when living here means having it all?

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