For designer Cari Berg and architectural designer Tim Campbell, the task of transforming an outdated dwelling near Beverly Hills into a stylish contemporary home was all about elevating it to reflect the tastes and desires of its owners, Paul and Rene´e Haas, and their daughters, Maggie and Abby. “We wanted the overall feel to be sophisticated, but also open and homey, and not too done,” says Rene´e. “We also have people over a lot and wanted to be able to use the entire property, inside and out.”
In addition to elevating the aesthetics, the designers, who worked with builder Stephen Davis on the project, were looking to elevate the physical volumes as well. “The ceilings were low, the kitchen was tiny, and the living room felt very closed off from the rest of the house,” says Berg. “We needed to open it up and give it some personality.” Achieving that goal took an inspired move by Campbell. “It was either insanity or genius,” he explains. “It’s a two-story house, so in order to create taller ceilings in portions of the ground floor, we lowered the floors in those areas. We took out walls, lowered the foundation, then put the walls back in to get 10-foot-tall ceilings.” In the process, Campbell reconfigured the main level to include a spacious open-plan kitchen and family room, and the second floor was redone with greater bedroom space and higher ceilings. For a more refined effect, exteriors were refinished with concrete stucco, and the fasciae were redesigned.
Inside, the owners’ substantial art collection played an important role in the design decisions. “Normally, we would have opened up the house with walls of glass and expanded the view,” explains Campbell. “We did that, but we were also sensitive to leaving walls for the art.” The collection impacted Berg’s choices as well. “Their specific artwork, along with the idea of a changing collection, inspired the palette so that any space could accept any piece.” To that end, Berg selected relatively neutral colors ranging from shades of charcoal to silvery gray. For impact, she added a gray lacquer finish to the distinctive paneling Campbell designed for the kitchen and family room. The paneling acts as a dramatic backdrop for a sculptural bronze-plated-and- stone stairway in the entry, which separates the family and living rooms.
While the footprint of the living room did not change much, the increased ceiling height contributes to a luxuriously spacious feel, as do new glass doors, which fold seamlessly away. Silver-gray grass cloth adds texture to the walls, against which artwork and furnishings, including a blue lacquered coffee table and a sofa covered with an Opuzen stripe, stand out. A custom corner bench offers seating in what had been lost space. “The room is sexy and more formal than the rest of the house,” says Berg. “It functions better now, especially when the owners want to entertain.”
Berg continued the textured, layered approach in the master bedroom, where she introduced a silky wallcovering and a linen-upholstered bed standing on a soft, geometrically patterned rug. “When you have the hectic lives that people have in L.A., you want to make sure that when they go to bed at night they have a soothing, relaxing space to come back to,” the designer says. The expanded backyard area offers a further respite, with its new patios, infinity-edge pool, outdoor dining pavilion, and poured-concrete seating area complete with fire pit. With the exception of the dining pavilion, which was created by Campbell, landscape designer Brian Farrell designed and installed all of the outdoor spaces. “It was a very creative project that incorporates everything from LED lighting systems to water features,” says Farrell. “The owners wanted to be able to make as much use of the outdoor area as possible, and they let our design minds go.”
Challenges aside, the versatility of the final result is what Davis finds so exciting about the project. “The trick was building a family house that, with very little effort, could turn into a substantial entertaining home,” he says. “It goes from wonderful to out-of-this-world.”