For design pros, working with friends and family can be a dicey proposition. How will your relationship play out now that your friends have become clients? Will it survive the potential stress? Will the bond endure once the furniture is in place and all the artwork is hung? Happily, for designer Paige Pierce, who was tapped by longtime friends Katie and Brian Anderson to revamp their 1930s Tudor-style home in West Los Angeles, the answer to the final query was a resounding yes. “This was one of the easier projects I’ve done,” says Pierce. “I know Katie so well and understand the way her family lives and uses their home.”
Seeking a logically organized floor plan, increased square footage and more comfortable furnishings for their residence of five years, the Andersons approached Pierce, whom Katie had known since high school. Pierce helped them connect with residential designer Jesse Harrison and architect Anthony Spann to reinvent the structure. “It was one of those typical older L.A. houses that’s not intuitive for how we live today,” Harrison says. The makeover included converting a bedroom and a bath into an open-plan kitchen and family room and linking them to the rear yard via glass doors. “The clients like to entertain, have family and friends over and wanted to be able to see the kids playing outside while they cook and hang out,” Harrison says. A couple of bedrooms on one side of the living room were also eliminated; then a large master suite was created and two new bedrooms for the children were added above it.
“That living room is the core of the house. Preserving the vaulted ceiling meant we had to build above the master bedroom,” says Harrison, noting, “The hardest thing to do is a two-story addition to a cottage because you don’t want it to stick out like a sore thumb.” To help harmonize old and new, general contractors Arturo Mora and Leo Mora incorporated Tudor-style millwork on the faÃ§ade. “It ties to the original architecture,” says Arturo Mora, who also added a Tudor-style chimney. “I gave it more of a historical design,” he says. “The right chimney on the front of a house is important.”
With Pierce leading the charge, the front elevation received other updates. The stucco was painted a bright white and the front door a crisp navy blue–a hue the designer brought inside too. “I always make sure there’s a lot of color and pattern at play,” she says. “It’s how I think people like to live. It makes them happy. I’m not the designer to choose if you want to go neutral. Color and pattern make a home unique and personal.” To that end, she outfitted the dining room walls with a periwinkle-and-white leaf-motif wallpaper and painted the wainscoting and coffered ceiling, establishing a cool, layered feeling in the space. Pierce also painted the large quartz-topped kitchen island a pale blue and selected brass stools upholstered with navy blue faux leather; white-painted wood cabinetry and white subway tile on the backsplash surround the blue of the island and the stools, making them tranquil focal points.
In the living room, which connects to the lush rear yard, Pierce employed touches of green. “When you’re in the house you see a lot of foliage in the front and backyard so I felt like green was an obvious color to tie in and help with the indoor-outdoor feel we wanted to achieve,” she says. Complementing the blue sofa are blue-and-green patterned draperies, along with a vintage wing chair covered in an emerald-and-cream botanical print fabric and a pair of armchairs wrapped in moss green velvet. The mix, which also includes a Chippendale-style secretary and a tufted bench with turned legs, conveys a collected-over-time feel, as if it were conjured from the pages of a favorite fairy-tale.
Landscape designer Teryl Ciarlo had a similarly idyllic intention outside. “I used a boxwood hedge in the front to make clean lines,” says Ciarlo, who also planted ficus nitida–and climbing roses for a storybook touch. In the backyard, a small herb garden wraps around the base of a mature lemon tree, and more boxwood hedges border a flat lawn. It adds up to the perfect setting for the Andersons and their friends. “There’s a wine tap on the terrace and they project movies on the side of the house,” says Pierce, who frequently visits. “Every time I go to the house, it makes me feel happy–I’m glad I still get to go there even though the project is over. That’s a unique thing to be able to do.”