A Classic, Spanish Colonial-Style House


Spanish-style architecture and Southern California go hand in hand. So when clients of architect William Hefner wanted to renovate their house on a lush property in Santa Monica Canyon with that type of aesthetic, he wasn’t short on inspiration. The pure lines of older Spanish houses nearby, especially one once owned by Will Rogers, were an influence, as were residences by iconic regional architects George Washington Smith and Wallace Neff. “My vision,” says Hefner, “was to create a classic Spanish Colonial-style house with the character and scale of a 1920s Mediterranean, yet with a simplicity of detail.”

To realize that vision, Hefner collaborated with his wife, Kazuko Hoshino, who heads the interior design department of his firm, general contractor Donald L. Hanover and landscape designer Lisa Zeder on what would become a several-stage renovation. First, Hefner rebuilt the house as a two-story structure that stretches out along the edge of the garden. He then topped the stucco exterior with a red tile roof and added a wrought-iron balcony to the home’s rear façade, which is punctuated with rows of French doors. “This place has a lot more glass than a traditional Spanish house,” says Hanover. “The architecture lends itself to capturing views of the backyard.”

The aesthetic direction was established quickly; the floor plan, however, took a bit longer. After the owners had lived in the house for several years, their needs evolved, and they brought the team back to add more spaces for family gathering and entertaining. A formal living room and dining room were kept, and the kitchen was expanded so that it now flows into an open breakfast area and family room. Upstairs, the master suite was also enlarged. “We increased the square footage where they needed it most,” says Hefner, “and then we went through and brought the whole thing up to a new standard.”

As the house was being revisited, the grounds were elevated as well. “They had a beautiful rustic garden,” says Zeder, “but the clients were looking for something with a bit more elegance.” Balance was achieved by bringing more symmetry and sunlight to the landscape: Trees were removed to create an expansive lawn, and borders of boxwood containing blossoming plants were incorporated into the scene. “Now, there’s a sense of order,” explains Zeder, who also added stonework to the property “to give it age.”

Inside, Hefner lent a sense of patina by adding reclaimed ceiling beams throughout and redoing the floors with stained cherrywood. Despite those additions, he kept the period references subtle. “We tried purposefully not to do the expected Spanish Colonial detailing,” he says. “It’s a strong aesthetic, and we wanted to have more flexibility in terms of decorating.”

Hoshino took advantage of that flexibility as she appointed the new spaces and freshened up her previous designs of the existing ones. “I wanted to do something to enhance the beauty of the architecture,” she says. “At the same time, I wanted to reflect the clients’ tastes.” That meant choosing furnishings from an eclectic range of styles and indulging the wife’s penchant for color.

In the new family room, for example, Hoshino paired a Chinese low table with sofas she designed based on a French antique. She kept the dining room’s gold-leaf ceiling and added a vibrant red tufted ottoman to the living room, where the wife’s boldly patterned pillows accent neutral-toned sofas. In the master bedroom, Hoshino hung silk pendants by Fortuny and placed two Tony Duquette chairs found by the wife at the foot of the bed. The dressing room offers a luxurious respite as two tufted settees stand against silver-leaf walls.

“I like to create a different feeling in each room,” Hoshino explains. “But I try to make sure that they have some connection.” In this case, the wife, with her design input and personal accessories, played a big role in giving the house a common thread. “William and I believe that a house is supposed to look like the people who live there,” says Hoshino. “When we can achieve that goal, it’s so satisfying. We feel as if we’ve made their dreams come true.