Palos Verdes Estates
Traditional and au courant design elements are skillfully merged in a welcoming, beautifully finished family home.
With an eye-catching exterior of pale taupe clapboard and speckled brick, the house sports a traditional facade, though abundant midnight-blue trim hints at its modern pedigree. Once inside, one is met with the current-day staples of upmarket home design—from a sunny open floorplan to a thoughtful menagerie of exclusive finishes.
“We talked through the design being something that would be East Coast and elegant, but at the same time, be a bit more California and fresh,” says Erin Zajac of ET2Design, who designed the interior.
Working as a team, along with developer and builder Larry Johnson, architect Buchmann and Edoardo Taroni, also of ET2 Design, who designed the exterior, Zajac planned the finishes while the home was in the process of being built. “Materials are a very important part of how we experience architecture,” says Buchmann, “but often, the materials are applied to the space after it is designed—as an afterthought.”
To that end, there is an outdoor shower, fire pit and built-in barbecue paired with a salt-water pool and spa, making for a space that is equally well-equipped to cope with weekend parties, late-night cocktails, or quieter Sunday mornings. The office, which overlooks the pool, makes work here more appealing, as well. Poised high above neighboring homes, this space enjoys privacy from prying eyes. Go ahead, enjoy an evening swim or a stolen moment before slipping off to bed, which is integral to what continues this sweetest of dreams.
Cloistered behind the northern end of the second floor, and cleverly secluded behind a living room wall, the master bedroom is a secret retreat. Fling open the walnut door to find a true sanctuary, anchored by book-matched stone. Sliding glass doors open the room to the deck and exterior, embracing a picture-perfect view of the landscape that outshines any art. Skylights illuminate a marble and walnut bathroom, whose visual elegance is supported by its luxuries: a steam shower, a soaking tub and double basin sinks. A walk-in closet and a fireplace, meanwhile, complete a picture of sensuousness and rejuvenation.
The execution of the home is a study in meticulous planning. “I bought the previous home and lived in it for three years before I built the new home,” says Johnson, “so I could learn about the neighborhood, and see what house would work and be a beautiful addition to it.
Also, I was able to take my time choosing the people I wanted to collaborate with.” The harmony of the team is evidenced in the successful integration of the home’s modern design aspects with its classic framework. Zajac often uses bold choices, like the glossy, midnight black designer tile in the master bathroom that commingles with pale, oversized floor tiles and veiny gray stone counters.
Or in the kitchen, where a hefty walnut island—a sculpture-like centerpiece topped with glossy stone—complements the room’s light gray cabinetry. There is rustic brick along the walls and framing the fireplace, but done in a clean antique white, versus traditional red. “There’s always this play on classic and traditional that’s balanced by keeping it contemporary,” notes Zajac.
“From the beginning,” says Buchmann, “we were thinking about the materials. Their natural ability and what you can touch and feel as you experience the space.” In the great room, for instance, the home’s central gathering space, there are decorative rafter beams, designed by the architect, and grainy, white-oak floors that bring down-to-earth notes to the room’s soaring white ceilings and elegant wall moulding. “I always want a home that flows extremely well,” points out Johnson. “Which means when you’re living there, it’s very easy to get anywhere you want to go, and there’s a lot of light from every direction.”
Spanning five bedrooms and five-and-a-half bathrooms, the home has a grand scale that is warmed by a near-constant influx of natural light—enabled by Buchmann’s strategic placement of windows, glass doors and skylights.
A nice touch on the second floor is a sunlit catwalk that neatly separates the master suite from the rest of the home. On the main floor, a sliding wall of glass (Kolbe) connects the great room to a spacious, user-friendly outdoor living area. “It’s an incredible house for entertaining because it has this indoor-outdoor feel that takes full advantage of Southern California weather,” says real estate broker Carl Henkel.
On the pool deck, an orange-hued pergola extends the indoors, providing a shaded spot ideal for reading or dining. The rectangular pool is neighbor to a stone-topped bar and a fire pit lounge that’s a perfect place to congregate after dark. Atop a nearby platformed area is a bubbly spa and a sunbathing deck, nicely separated from other areas by its height.
The private, fresh-air living area, meanwhile, is flanked with trees and designed to be accessed from several points in the home. “The design of the home was used to wrap the backyard,” explains Buchmann, who intended it to grant the area maximum seclusion while also strengthening the home’s relationship to the outdoors.
Like the rest of the home, landscaping was meticulously planned. “The goal,” says Taroni, “was to complement the architecture with the combination of an aesthetic value, and the California native landscape palette.” Eager to keep the property consistent with the landscape of Palos Verdes, Taroni planted ornamental grass, a native meadow and fruit trees in the yard, and designed an earthy bluestone pathway that reaches the front door.
A thoughtful touch are the many outdoor vignettes created to be seen and enjoyed from the indoors. “We created viewpoints throughout the house that allow you to look outside at something beautiful,” he explains.
So tailor-made is the home for the local market that it was sold while still under construction. “When the home was put into escrow, it was just sticks, and concrete, and dirt,” points out Henkel, who was sought out by developer Larry Johnson, a friend from high school, to help from the project’s start.
“I found the lot,” he says, “and Larry Johnson did a fantastic job of finding the right people to surround himself with.” Henkel drummed up early support for the home via the MLS and hosted private showings. There was a lot of early interest in the home, and it was on Henkel to convey the rewards of a house that did not yet exist.
In the end, amidst multiple offers the home was purchased by a young family who brought home a new baby two days after moving in, and are excited to entertain and barbecue throughout the year, not to mention be able to take that short jaunt from the kitchen and into the pool. “It’s a remarkable place to raise a family,” points out Henkel, “and that’s what they’ll be doing there.”
Carl Henkel | 310.210.1625 | DRE 01427998
of California Real Estate Alliance
Sold for $3,500,000
PHOTOGRAPHS BY PAUL JONASON