Santa Monica

Santa Monica Contemporary Home on 526 23rd St - Westside DIGS Magazine

Santa Monica Contemporary Family Home

No expense was spared in the design of this warm contemporary home nestled in the tree-lined streets of Santa Monica. Think a true piece of art bathed in comfort and luxury, complete with high-end details including floor-to-ceiling Movi doors; Italian-made bathroom cabinetry by Rexa Design and Novello Bagno; a chef-caliber kitchen boasting the highest-tier of Blum hardware, as well as and Miele and Zephyr appliances; and engineered European white oak flooring throughout. Not to mention a swoon-worthy yard showcasing a sparkling pool and spa.

“In town, there are so many similar builds that are all interchangeable, but there isn’t anything like this on the market,” says Cindy Ambuehl of The Agency, who is listing the property for $8.25 million. “It is current to the demands and desires of today’s buyers, designed to appeal to both family and entertaining, and the location…oh, the location!”

Found at 526 23rd St.—North of Montana Avenue, just minutes from the Brentwood Country Mart, and a bevy of shops and restaurants—the six-bedroom abode was custom built this year by GAIA Construction, along with Desai Architects and Italian interior designer DI Group.

Expect almost 7,000 square feet of open living space on three levels featuring sophisticated design elements such as soaring ceilings, plentiful natural light, an elevator, and a showpiece of a striking floating wood-and-glass staircase.

Among the highlights: the previously mentioned kitchen boasting a center island with waterfall edges, Binova cabinetry from Italy and a porcelain backsplash stretching from the countertops to the ceiling, along with a spacious master retreat showcasing an expansive closet and luxe bath.

Adding to the home’s glam factor is a lower-level entertainment area featuring a theater, wine cellar, wet bar and game room, as well as delightful grounds sporting an outdoor dining area with barbecue, and a pool house with bar, bath and outdoor shower. Finally is a Control4 smart home automation, top-of-the-line security and camera system, and solar energy setup.


Cindy Ambuehl of The Agency

List Price
$8.25 million


Star Norma Talmadge’s 1930 Santa Monica Beach House Sells For $8M

A Santa Monica beach house built for silent screen star Norma Talmadge in 1930 has sold for $8 million. According to the L.A. Times, other notables who have lived or stayed at the French Normandy-style oceanfront compound have included actor Cary Grant, composer Irving Berlin, and business magnate Howard Hughes. The 5,530-square-foot residence contains a foyer, circular staircase, formal living room, dining room, sun room, wine cellar, butler’s pantry, five bedrooms, and five baths. 

On the ocean-facing side of the home are covered and open patios, a heated swimming pool, paddle tennis/pickleball court and raised viewing deck, while a motor court with a four-car garage fronts the quarter-acre property. Jade Mills and Tiffany Mills of Coldwell Banker were the listing agents, with Jamie Nugent of Hilton & Hyland and Kelsey Kroon of Douglas Elliman representing the buyer.

santa monica pier_ home prices

Santa Monica Home Prices Up 45% Since 2013


The average sales price for single-family homes in Santa Monica reaches a new record high in August at $3,386,000, up 16% from a year earlier. If we look back five years, the average sale price is up 44.76%, when the average sale price was $2,339,070.

The average price per square foot paid for single-family homes this year has also reached a new high at $1,219 and is up 42% versus 2013 when the average price per square foot was $860.

In August 2018, the average sales price in 90402 was $3,996,913, up 6.8% versus August 2017, 90403 registered $1,613,288, an increase of 6.7% and 90405 came in at $1,686,900, up 7.9%.



Vintage 1907 Craftsman

The highest recorded sale in Santa Monica thus far this year is a charming home with modern upgrades that pay homage to its original Craftsman character. Situated on a 20,236 square foot lot with lush park like grounds, this 5 bed, 5 bath, 5,501 square foot home features Mahogany and Douglas fir paneling and flooring, a vintage stone fireplace in living room, gourmet kitchen and commanding canyon, mountain and ocean views.

Original List Price: $11,999,000
Closed Sale Price: $11,100,000
Listing Agent: Kate Bransfield, Coldwell Banker Residential

*MRMLS single family residence average sales in Santa Monica Information is deemed accurate but not guaranteed.


San Vicente Grace and Beauty

Winding from Wilshire Boulevard through Brentwood and out to Ocean Avenue, San Vicente is one of the most bucolic thoroughfares in the city. With its long lines of mature coral trees and lushly planted central divider, it doubles as the Westside’s unofficial exercise track, with joggers and bikers sharing space with glistening SUVs and late-model sports cars.

This road’s beauty is matched by its prestige; many of the most coveted meeting places in this part of town are located on this stretch, from the award-winning restaurants and shops along its eastern point to The Brentwood and Riviera Country Clubs, to the exclusive shops and cafes of the Brentwood Country Mart and the restaurants that border the ocean.

More importantly, perhaps, is that it serves as the touchstone for the most desirable properties in the area, the owners of which have the ability to park the car and simply stroll: to brunch or the beach, maybe down to the grocery store or window shop with friends. It’s no wonder that the homes near San Vicente are considered among the most covetable in Santa Monica, especially those tucked along the surprisingly quiet western end of the Boulevard, where the street makes the slight curve south to reach the Pacific. This is where one finds the home at 808 San Vicente.

Rising from a quiet corner, the home plays peekaboo with lush landscaping and a fence of thick gray stone. Shielded from the eyes and noise of its neighbors, the home’s tranquil setting is enhanced by the perfumed air that rises from lilac and lavender bushes. It casts a spell that stepping through the front door and into the two-story front entryway underscores. This generous welcome confirms the home’s graceful street appearance, authenticating the initial perception of expansive luxury.

Distinctive black and white tiles set it apart and offer a playful contrast to the dark American walnut wood flooring that spans the rest of the home, grounding its light, airy rooms. Learning that, unlike their counterparts in other homes, those found here were finished on-site for quality assurance, substantiating one’s initial impression: that this is a home where attention to detail—a hallmark of builder GAIA Construction—is of paramount importance.

That feeling is further reinforced when one takes stock of the surroundings: In the dining room, a coffered honeycomb ceiling layers the room with elegance; the main-floor guest room’s French doors open to a private garden; and the home office, perfectly situated across from the front door, is set off by dark wood paneling, built-in shelving, and an intricate parquet floor pattern. The formal living room, meanwhile, sports its own detailed ceiling treatment and a fireplace punctuated by a dark marble surround. Everywhere one looks, Old World details abound, from chair railings and paneled walls to crown molding and ceiling beams.

These elements do not stop with the formal rooms that pivot around the front door. They’re in the butler’s pantry, with its grill-front cabinetry, marble countertops, and custom cabinetry. They’re in the powder room, with its textured wallpaper and sleek black marble sink basin. And, they’re a substantial component of the great room’s appeal. This area, which includes the open-plan eat-in kitchen, sprawls across the entire back of the house.

The kitchen’s Calcutta gold marble countertops, capacious island and gleaming stainless steel appliances confer a sublime elegance that elevates this most casual of the home’s spaces while a fireplace and elegant built-ins confirm its elegance. Paned LaCatina doors, opening the great room to the grassy backyard and celebrating that most coveted hallmark of SoCal living: the indoor-outdoor lifestyle. Mirroring the room’s sophistication is the backyard’s outdoor kitchen (existing architectural plans easily place a pool within this area), cementing this place as the center of family life.

Grace and beauty continue their reign with both the ascent to the home’s bedrooms on the second floor and descent to the expansive entertaining area on the lower levels, which one accesses via an elegant staircase and by an elevator that services all of its generous three floors. Upstairs, four light and airy en-suite bedrooms continue to tender the home’s attributes of affluence and quality with finished ceilings, large custom closets, marble tiling and private outdoor balconies (including one that juts off the master bedroom). Tucked into a substantial space on this floor is one of the home’s two laundry rooms.

Downstairs is a testament to true success: a temperature-controlled walnut wine room, which is sure to satisfy the most indulgent oenophile, with plenty of space for over two dozen cases of wine. A fully-appointed Miele kitchen supports entertaining in the family and guest room and offers guests the option of independence from the family upstairs (a boon when hosting long-term visitors or live-in assistance).

Whether one’s pleasures are football intense weekends, a weekly poker night, video gaming tournaments, an in-home music studio, gym, art or yoga studio, here is the spacious backdrop against which to orchestrate one’s dreams.  For, if there was ever a home in which dreams might come true, you’ve found it. Some people dream of castles in the air. You’ve gone one better. You’ve found a slice of heaven on Earth.


Presented by:
Cindy Ambuehl of the Agency | 424.321.4947
List Price: $7,695,000


Illuminated Living in Santa Monica

Illuminated Living in Santa Monica at 1016 San Vicente Blvd

Designed by Architect Mario Romano this contemporary three-story home offers both  form and function with family appeal 

If you’re not yet familiar with architect Mario Romano’s work, it’s time to get acquainted. Among the architectural icons of Venice, his sculptural Wave House stood out for its unique shape and sensual beauty. But the home was not just alluring for its unusualness and graceful exterior, but its light and livable interior too. His latest home, located at 1016 San Vicente Blvd., takes that home’s best qualities and translates them to the more architecturally restrained environs of Santa Monica.


A great home starts with a great location. This one, sited on San Vicente between 10th and 11th Streets in the heart of Santa Monica, has that and more. Malibu, Beverly Hills, Brentwood and Venice are all within easy driving distance. And, although a main thoroughfare, this part of San Vicente is surprisingly quiet. On weekends, the wide, tree-lined boulevard is a favorite of bicyclists and runners. The legendary Santa Monica steps are also nearby.

While uncommon, it wouldn’t be unheard of to leave your car parked in the garage to take advantage of the area’s walkability. Start your day with the 15-minute walk to Brentwood Country Mart to meet friends for coffee, breakfast, or a class at Bar Method. Or stroll down to Montana Avenue to browse its famed boutiques, unwind at Yogaworks or grab dinner.

All depends on if you leave the home at all; this is a home that, once you step inside, you may not want to leave. The exterior surface of many contemporary homes is a blank canvas. Not this one. An imposing, sculpted plywood door and a white exterior covered in Corian, a durable clean material that inhibits the growth of viruses, mold and bacteria, and subtly etched with a wave, are clues to the attention to detail that’s been lavished on this home. Here, form and function go hand in hand.


Romano has not just architected a building, but a home that supports a busy modern family. Take, for example, the spacious two-car garage. A door leads directly into the house facilitating the unloading of packages and ensuring that energetic young children exit directly into the safety of the house. And, Romano points out, “not only is there the ease of having the garage attached to the house but, unlike most houses in this neighborhood, having a garage in the front takes it out of the backyard, which allows for more space in the backyard for kids.”

There’s no need to turn on this home’s lights during the day. An expansive skylight floods the entire house with natural light. “Generally, the center of a house is very dark,” says Romano. “Here we’ve emptied it out so you get tons of light and you also get that visual connectedness to be able to see and hear what’s going on in the rest of the house.”

In fact, it’s this quality that’s one of the distinguishing features of Romano’s work. With three children of his own, he understands the needs of a growing family to balance that unique dichotomy of being simultaneously together and separate. Though the main floor’s living room, dining room and kitchen elide together, Romano’s version of an open plan allows parents to supervise their children while still offering them autonomy and privacy. 

Even the four bedrooms on the top floor are drawn into this circle. “We really like the whole family to be as connected as possible so we created a central point that bridges the rooms so that, no matter where you are, you can create that connection.”

That distinction extends to the backyard. Sliding doors by Metal Window Corporation, a Los Angeles-based manufacturer, pocket entirely into the walls that separate the main living area from the exterior, providing a seamless transition from indoors to out. An outdoor entertaining patio, complete with a fireplace and a television, presents another space to relax while still being safe within the circle of family. While Romano has provided a number of options for a pool, sited here, perpendicular to the house, it would partner perfectly with the den inside.

The practical and the beautiful work in tandem here. There’s the kitchen’s long island, a corner of which has been fit with wireless charging capabilities to accommodate the ever-present need to charge devices. There’s an elevator, servicing all three floors, to carry packages and people swiftly through the house. The master bedroom’s spacious closet, with its custom cabinetry, not only accommodates two people’s clothing and accessories, but the complex dance of getting ready on busy mornings.

Fenix, a matt laminate surface, that has been employed for the kitchen’s cabinets is used for the cabinets and surfaces in some of the bathrooms too. Anti-fingerprint, soft to the touch, and extremely durable, it easily withstands the challenges of everyday life (scratches are healed with the heat from a hairdryer).

Instead of tile, the same Corian material that envelopes the home’s exterior covers the vertical surfaces in each of the bathrooms and Romano has infused them with playful textures and patterns unique to each room. Hexagons sprawl across the master bath, a starburst radiates out from a shower, and the sun’s rays envelop a powder room. Used in the theater room on the lower floor and backlit, the soft light washes the space with the ideal atmosphere in which to meditate or create.

A guest suite also on the lower floor offers guests, older children back from school, in-laws or live-in help the ability to come and go without disturbing the home’s other occupants. A game and media room, outfitted with space for a projector, is a spacious yet cozy space in which to host family movie nights or Monopoly tournaments. With the proliferation of remote work, a room to the right of the front door, complete with a separate entrance and sight lines over the front of the house, is an ideal home office.

True luxury stretches beyond superficial surface beauty, actually enhancing the quality of one’s life. It’s what’s at the heart of this home. Designed to support the ideals of California living, this is not just a house, but a place that nurtures a family and that they can cherish for years to come.

Written by Abigail Stone  |  Photographs by Paul Jonason

Presented by 

Ava Domanovski & Charles Pence, Pence Hathorn Silver
310.774.6611  |
List Price: $7,995,000

Number of $1 million homes has quadrupled since 2002

Number of $1 million homes has quadrupled since 2002, now 4.3% of all homes

According to a Trulia research report, $1 million may no longer get buyers into the luxury home market – it’s more like $5 million as the new bar for luxury living. In fact, even $5 million homes are becoming less exclusive, as the number of these homes is five times higher than in 2002. Of all the listings, over 7,000 were listed in the top 100 U.S. metros in 2017 – 0.28% were listed at $5 million or more.

That’s certainly the case on the Westside.

Brentwood had only (7) closed sales in 2017 under $1.5 million, and (73) closed sales over $5 million – that’s 29.2% of all of the homes sold in Brentwood last year. The average closed sale price was $4,277,878 in Brentwood last year.

Comparatively, Pacific Palisades had only (1) closed sale under $1.5 million last year, and (52) over $5 million, which represented 20% of the total market sales. The average closed price for Pacific Palisades was $3,989,789 last year.

On the other hand, Santa Monica had (28) sales under $1.5 million, and (32) sales over $5 million, which represented 12.8% of total market sales in 2017.

Interestingly, of the (758) single-family home sales combined in these areas last year, a total of (24) homes sold over $10 million and the share of $5 million plus homes sold was 20.7% of the total market. The highest closed sales price in Brentwood, Pacific Palisades and Santa Monica last year was $23,000,000. (South Bay had (54) total sales above $5 million in 2017, representing 3.59% of total market sales.)

“Millions saw the apple fall, but Newton was the one who asked why.”
— Bernard Baruch

Mexican With Flair

South-of-the-border style and tastes to savor comes to Santa Monica with Tallula’s

A favorite childhood haunt in Santa Monica’s Rustic Canyon has been transformed into a fun and funky establishment via husband-and-wife restaurateurs who are retracing their steps as adults. Having debuted in early May, Tallula’s pays reverence to the longstanding Marix cantina—complete with a warm and inviting atmosphere, proliferation of color, and rustic Mexican comfort food prepared with fresh and seasonal farmers’ market ingredients.

“Zoe and I have longed dreamed of doing our own personal project in this space,” says Josh Loeb, who established Tallula’s with wife Zoe Nathan, chef Jeremy Fox and Colby Goff of the Rustic Canyon Family of Restaurants, known for establishments such as Rustic Canyon, Huckleberry and Cassia. “We now live in the house I grew up in, and Zoe and I have always wanted to open a restaurant we could walk to. This was the perfect opportunity to bring something fun, funky and delicious to the neighborhood that people can come to every day.”

Found in a beachside locale at 118 Entrada Drive—and named after Loeb’s and Nathan’s daughter—Tallula’s features ORA-designed interiors inspired by the hip Mexican beach town of Tulum, complete with south-of-the-border décor, a coastal color palette of pink, green and blue, and many of the structure’s original features. “Right when you walk in, you’re greeted by a festive wall hanging with hand-embroidered flowers and animals that inspired a lot of Tallula’s design elements,” says Loeb. “To the right is an original wooden staircase, with a variety of hanging potted plants dangling from the ceiling. It creates this vertical garden effect, and feels very homey and welcoming.”

As for the culinary offerings, guests will find a menu celebrating the comforting and familiar Mexican dishes the partners all grew up with, but with an imaginative take. Among the standout offerings: grilled fish tacos with Mexican sauerkraut, malt aioli and epazote served on house-made blue corn tortillas; mushroom and pepper jack empanadas topped with guajillo ancho sauce, walnut, sesame and arugula; roasted organic chicken with fig mole, summer squash, tomato and house-made duck fat flour tortillas; and tres leches cake with honey, chamomile and berries. Meanwhile, Bar Manager Aaron Ranf and Wine Director Kathryn Coker have compiled a bar program featuring craft beer; a curated wine list highlighted by boutique producers from around the world; and cocktails infused with house-made syrups (like The Canyon, with Selvarey and Plantation O.F.T.D. rums, pineapple, lemon, spiced tumeric syrup and Angostura bitters).




Contemporary Edge

The West Coast’s premier design fair is coming to the Westside with the best in modern design

Written by Jenn Thornton | Photography Courtesy of WestEdge Design Fair

Now in its fifth year, the WestEdge Design Fair in Santa Monica is, much like the design scene in Los Angeles itself, expansive and exciting—a bastion of what’s new and what’s next. For the Oct. 19-22 design extravaganza, this means more than 150 exhibitors, visited by throngs of design enthusiasts, during a weekend of inspired events.


One predicts a sweeping scene—particularly as WestEdge co-founders, Megan Reilly and Troy Hanson, have commandeered the vast Barker Hangar to hold the event, which will require all 35,000 square feet of the venue to accommodate its ongoing swell in event participation (some 95 percent, in exhibitors, and more than 100 percent, in turnout, since its inception). Though an atypical setting for a “tradeshow,” no ordinary convention center will do for a design fair that is anything but. As Reilly and Hanson see it, the combination of sunny California weather and historic shelter “blends together a perfect casual, cool vibe with great design and creative people who do amazing work”—designers, influencers and makers staging their wares and sharing their insight.

While some WestEdge happenings are returning for another run, including the Opening Night Party benefitting Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House, where attendees of the Oct. 19 bash can preview and shop one-of-a-kind pieces of artist-created luggage at the Samsonite-sponsored Street Art Auction, there also will be the DIFFA: Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS and the Thrive Tribe Foundation auction featuring bespoke wine buckets by two dozen artists and designers.

Also fresh for WestEdge this year is DIEM: TALKS DESIGN. Presented in partnership with Architectural Digest, LALA, and the West Hollywood Design District, the daylong symposium featuring KCRW’s Frances Anderton and writer and designer Mallery Roberts Morgan will explore the theme “EVERYTHING IS DISRUPTED” to foster conversation about the shifts in our social and physical landscape. New too is the Milk Stand, a Design Milk pop-up with modern design merch, from home décor to architectural-inspired jewelry. The buzzy design blog host is also presenting one of WestEdge’s featured areas, MADE:MODERN, which will highlight the work of independent designers while fostering a coveted meet-and-greet between makers and attendees, allowing the former to share the stories behind their products that one can also purchase.

Design lovers will find no shortage of spaces for socializing, including the Indoor Lounge, sponsored by Foscarini, Bolon and the Botanicals Wallpaper Collection by Resource Furniture; Outdoor Lounge backed by Juniper House in collaboration with the Venus Williams’ helmed V Starr Interiors and offering cocktails, gaming tables and outdoor grilling; and the Culinary Pavilion, serving up culinary demos and tastings.

“Southern California, and L.A. in particular, has such an unexpected and extraordinary amount of design talent right now,” say Reilly and Hanson. “There is no doubt that L.A. is now a major focus of attention within these categories for the trade, press and design-savvy consumers, and we’re extremely fortunate to drive the conversation forward through all that WestEdge offers.”

Pastoral Vista

Located in one of the city’s most private canyons, this elegant abode boasts exquisite details and an incomparable view within moments of the Westside’s best

Written by Abigail Stone | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason

Of all the canyons in Los Angeles, Mandeville is unique. It is the only one that leads nowhere. While this might be a deterrent for those seeking a shortcut to the valley, residents here couldn’t be happier, as there are fewer outsiders racing through the leafy roads.

Privacy is but one of the many appeals of this woodsy enclave, which mixes refinement with rusticity in equal, perfectly balanced, measure. Hollywood icons Harrison Ford and Norman Lear are longtime residents. Lachlan Murdoch has a home here, as does Ari Emanuel. Only moments from the 405 to the east and PCH to the west, the locale combines proximity to the best of the city with pastoral pleasures (to which the many bicyclists and equestrians who reside here can attest).

Hikers are drawn to the gentle rise of West Mandeville Fire Road, at the top of Westridge Road, and the Sycamore covered valley of Sullivan Canyon that winds below. In fact, its trailhead is within walking distance of the home at 13600 Bayliss Road, with the view of these lush rolling hills forming the bright-green backdrop of its elegant profile. Visitors are certain to know they’ve arrived at the standout address, even before their map app confirms it. All eyes are drawn to the understated luxury of this residence built by Drexel Luxury Homes, a firm well-known for building extraordinary real estate on the Westside.

The quiet grandeur that the home’s exterior promises, its interior more than fulfills, from the moment you’re ushered through the large pivoting front door and into the magnificent foyer, with its 22-foot-high, crisp-white paneled walls. This is a home designed for the kind of entertaining forged from deep, longstanding relationships. The dining room, its decor inspired by Chanel’s iconic jacket, creates a sophisticated setting for the innovative stylings of a private chef, telegraphing a perfectly composed meal made with items procured from Santa Monica’s renowned farmers’ market, and paired with top-rated vintages from California’s best vineyards. Even the powder room, with its inky black mosaic tiles, wall covering and white floor with negro marquina marble border, communicates sophistication.

A team of caterers will quickly feel at home in the expansive gourmet kitchen, which features the latest top-of-the-line appliances by Miele, Wolf and Sub-Zero; a 36” farmhouse sink set into a natural stone countertop; an oversized island, and generous custom cabinetry. For al fresco events, the outdoor grill and bar offers a work station. Whether plans call for a lavish charity cocktail event; a private viewing in the screening room, featuring upholstered walls, lush carpet and state-of-the-art audio-visual technology; or an intimate breakfast meeting under the covered outdoor patio, this home handles all occasions with aplomb, easily transitioning from intimate setting to stately stage. Sliding Fleetwood doors fully open the living room to the outdoors, a boon for when the crowd morphs from a few close colleagues to a few hundred associates. The lounge on the second-floor landing presents yet another location for a tete a tete or to conduct a casual meeting while the main party is in full swing downstairs. And, of course, Crestron’s SmartHome system offers control via phone. Complementing the home’s exterior (spacious enough for one to build a pool) is an outdoor shower and an outdoor powder room.

At this level of living, an executive is not only free to control his own hours but, just as often, to put in a full day of work from home. A quiet office, paneled in rich wood, provides the ideal setting for taking back-to-back conference calls, conducting research, or hosting important private meetings.

Upstairs, the 14-foot ceilings in the master bedroom create a room truly befitting its moniker. The layered details of the downstairs rooms continue here: paneled walls, a fireplace with custom-made mantel and marble surround, a minibar, and expansive his-and-her closets. The master bathroom is more than its equal. Sparkling underneath a crystal chandelier, two large vanities, a double-sized glass-enclosed steam shower and a freestanding tub on a stone platform rival those found in the city’s best hotels. The three other en-suite bedrooms on this level are equally lavish, with walk-in closets and Porcelnosa tiled bathrooms. For live-in assistance or guests, a similar set-up is tucked into the corner of the first floor.

With Brentwood, Santa Monica and the Palisades all moments away, there are certainly days when you’ll heed their clarion call. But more often, you’ll find yourself choosing to stay home. But then, when everything you need is right here, with the world more than happy to come to your doorstep, there’s truly no need to leave.




LIST PRICE $6,995,000

Artistic Vision

Santa Monica designer Christine Markatos Lowe creates au courant interiors with a classic touch 

Written by Jenn Thornton

“Work of art” might be considered a fairly rote turn of phrase these days, a maxim expressed from enthusiasm, but all too abundantly, it seems. Not everything is a work of art, surely. Unless you are interior designer Christine Markatos Lowe with a background in studio art, an M.F.A in Sculpture from the Art and Architecture School at the University of Pennsylvania, and mentorships with several industry giants—then you’re an artist whose work qualifies in earnest.

Trained in drawing, sculpture, and printmaking, it was Markatos Lowe’s transformative post-grad position in architect Peter Marino’s office that exposed her to a breadth of design she had never previously imagined. “I was hooked,” says Markatos Lowe, who spent several years with “Mr. Marino” before moving on to engagements at top design firms across the country, including that of White House designer Michael S. Smith, in Los Angeles. With a wealth of experience under her belt—and it must be said a great deal of confidence in her own vision— Markatos Lowe set up shop with her eponymous practice, Christine Markatos Design, which she founded in 2005. The Santa Monica-based firm now services clients on both coasts.

Bringing a bright, sensitive energy to her projects, Markatos Lowe visualizes elegant, expressive spaces. Hers is a perceptive aptitude; one potently applied, but filtered through a sophisticated eye. There’s the lovely sense of ease. Opposition and cohesion. The full run of color—using its spectrum, “from whisper soft to super saturated,” is a bedrock of her style. Each of Markatos Lowe’s designs, though singular, hinges on setting and sensibility. Does the project fit the client’s lifestyle? Is it appropriate to the architecture?

Primary to her approach is detail. “As an artist, I was taught to look at the entire composition, including the negative space rather than just the individual elements,” says Markatos Lowe, also a mother of two. “This point of view influences how I visualize my projects and ultimately edit the spaces.” Highlights of this lustrously designed array is a recently finished estate in Santa Monica; a residence at the Four Seasons Hualalai; a duplex in Greenwich Village; the Katherine Kidd Boutique in L.A; and the recent remodel of a 1940’s house in Malibu with sweeping views of the Pacific. Markatos Lowe also references an endeavor that taps into her penchant for palette; a home with a circular floor plan that allows for rooms surrounded by gardens, the colors of the which complement the hues of the rooms in “breathtaking” fashion.

With a rainbow of creative influences, Markatos Lowe says, “I find inspiration everywhere.” In fashion, fine art and form in nature. In the work of branded maximalists Tony Duquette and Renzo Mongiardino. And right outside the window. “To me, Southern California design is defined by the special quality of light and the lush landscape,” she says. “The projects I am most excited by allow me to play these assets off of each other in ways not possible in other geographic locations.” She’s made doing so an art.

Brentwood Beauty

Impeccable finishes and an oversized lot endow this grand Cape Cod-style home with patrician style and elegance

Written by Abigail Stone | Photography Courtesy of Paul Jonason

Presented by Kim Pollard, Jenro Realty Company

Brentwood is undeniably one of the most desirable and affluent enclaves in Los Angeles. And for good reason. Perfectly situated within easy driving distance to Santa Monica and Beverly Hills and with the best the city has to offer, its generous tree-lined streets are bordered with beautiful homes. Top-rated public and private schools draw families. It’s not unusual to bump into friends, neighbors, and classmates while dining at one of the area’s fine restaurants, shopping at Whole Foods or perusing Sunday’s farmers’ market. The Brentwood Country Club, the Brentwood Country Mart and Brentwood Village are favorite gathering places for eating and shopping.

In proximity to Brentwood Village, on an oversized lot (more than 13,000 square feet) less than a mile west of the 405 and south of Sunset, you’ll find 128 Granville Avenue. Shielded by a beautiful wooden fence and electric farmhouse gate, the stately shingled home features an elegant motor court paved in silver travertine. A three-car garage is skillfully integrated into the design. Though the style of this house nods to the coastal cottages of Cape Cod, its elegance and panache is pure Los Angeles.

A giant red door introduces a bright welcome opening to a grand two-story foyer that leads through the first floor to the backyard, confirming the magnificent proportions that belie what is first suggested by the home’s exterior. An octagonal window above the front floods the space with light, illuminating details—finely turned moldings, rich walnut floors—that distinguish a beautiful home from a merely cookie-cutter one.

These details don’t stop at the front door. Everywhere you look are estate-quality finishes: arresting honey onyx marble covering the powder room; book-matched Macuba white marble cascading over the kitchen’s generous island; and a Jerusalem marble fireplace forming the focal point of the formal living room. They are also in the small touches that the home’s builder thoughtfully included: two washers and dryers in the laundry room, the generous closet in the upstairs hallway, the kitchen’s double ovens, double dishwashers and Sub-Zero drawers. And, of course, this attention to detail is most apparent in the home’s layout. Taking into account the needs of a modern family, it deftly balances public and private space, skillfully navigating the indoor/outdoor life that underscores the quintessential Southern California lifestyle.

Consider the sunroom, tucked just to the right of the front door. With more people working remotely, finding the perfect spot for a home office is tricky. It needs to be just far enough from the main action to be quiet, yet located where it enables you to keep an eye on the home’s comings and goings, whether it’s the children arriving home after school, a daily UPS drop-off, visiting neighbors, or a messenger bearing an unexpected floral delivery. This spot fulfills all the requirements of a modern workspace. Finishing touches—built-in surround sound (a feature throughout the home) and a window seat, ideal for a quick cat nap—make it a place where one looks forward to spending time.

“…attention to detail is most apparent in the home’s layout. Taking into account the needs of a modern family, it deftly balances public and private space, skillfully navigating the indoor/ outdoor life that underscores the quintessential Southern California lifestyle.”

The gourmet kitchen is a prime example of SoCal living at its finest. This one, situated at the apex of the home’s open-plan suite of entertaining rooms, which includes a formal living room, family room and dining room, is not just a centerpiece, it’s a showpiece. With a Wolf six-burner range, a side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer with four drawers, an in-counter Wolf microwave and a double oven, it offers an unobstructed sightline to the backyard and the pool (a convenience for the cook who’s also a parent). Tucked into a hallway: a generous pantry and a climate-controlled wine cellar ensures the perfect bottle is always at hand and ready to uncork at the end of a long day.

Three sets of oversized French doors open these rooms to the generous backyard. Shaded by a pergola that mutes the sun’s rays, transmuting them into soft, filtered light, the home’s exterior doubles its entertaining space. There’s plenty of room here for an outdoor living and dining room. With the pool set into the lawn just beyond, children can splash while adults carry on conversation.

A spiral staircase winds down from the balcony off the master bedroom on the second floor; although, given the luxury bestowed on each of the en-suite bedrooms on this level, they all vie for the honor of “master” status. The opulent master edges out the others by virtue of the size of its bathroom, with a steam shower large enough to fit two comfortably and access to two walk-in closets. At night, when sinking into the capacious tub lit by a skylight, you can sometimes glimpse the stars twinkling overhead. No need to wish on them. Life is good.

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