The hardest thing about building a house isn’t necessarily unforeseen setbacks or irregularities of the land. Far more challenging at times is assembling a team that understands the clients’ desires implicitly and works collaboratively to bring them to fruition. So, in a sense, the owners of this Hollywood home had it easy. “I saw a house in Golden Beach that I loved the feeling of, the textures and the way it was modern but warm,” recalls the wife. “So, I hired everyone who worked on it.”
Working together, then, for a third time, were architect Ramon Pacheco, designer Robert Zemnickis and builder Tracy Roth. Landscape architects Deena Bell Llewellyn and Lewis Aqu¨i´—recommended by Pacheco—rounded out the team. Confident in their choices, the clients rented a home in the area while the team developed ideas for a property in another part of Hollywood. But the family soon fell in love with their “temporary” neighborhood and bought this cul-de-sac property a few doors down, eventually calling off the other construction. “It looked so magical with such old trees,” the wife says of the lot. In fact, it was a jungle that was mostly choking a hammock of 75-year- old live oaks at one end. So Bell Llewellyn and Aqu¨i´’s first task was to prune the canopy so grass could grow and clear underbrush to create a ‘park’ for the family’s three energetic boys, aged 15, 12 and 8.
The boys, at least inadvertently, drove the design. “They walk around in cleats,” says their mom with a roll of the eyes, “so it was important that our house be ‘lived-in’ and that as many rooms as possible faced the park.” Pacheco created “a contemporary house on a classical frame” that curved around a pool abutting the cul-de-sac; Bell Llewellyn and Aqu¨i´ obscured the area with a thick vegetative buffer. This irregular plan resulted in a more or less crescent-shaped interior layout, which presented particular predicaments for Roth.
“You want everything to relate to something that looks like a center line,” explains Roth. “The stone in the entry had to be thought out and laid down carefully.” Despite meticulous calculations, however, “We had to bring in a stone finisher to make it look as even as possible.” That wasn’t the only subcontractor Roth put through his paces either. The delicate Florida keystone veneer that clads the bridge leading over a pond to the front door was difficult to miter for a seamless look. “The quality is unforgiving,” observes Roth. Inside, Pacheco collaborated with Zemnickis on interior surfaces and materials, and on focal points for the clients’ growing collection of paintings, ceramics and glass.
The collection, explains Zemnickis, “has a definite craft edge, so we wanted to reflect that in the materials.” To wit: Handmade elements make subtle appearances throughout the home. The foyer’s stair banister boasts resin panels inset with rings of animal horn, and the walls display linen panels arranged in an ashlar pattern around the space. Hand-carved details run along edges of otherwise immaculately planed millwork. The custom master bath’s vanities are executed in a highly textural driftwood finish, satin nickel and shagreen. To create continuity and evoke a sense of order in irregularly shaped rooms, Zemnickis echoed the ashlar idea introduced in the foyer throughout other rooms: It morphs into grids on those glass-paned doors and on the living room rug, and into a trellis pattern on the wife’s office rug.
The home is evidence enough of the collaboration’s success. But more importantly, concludes the wife, “We love living here.”