He wasn’t actually looking to move. But when an Internet entrepreneur and avid cyclist pedaled past an in-progress house on a pretty, rural-feeling road in Los Angeles, he knew it would be his family’s new home. After all, he and his wife had a toddler and a baby on the way: It was time to upsize. “They moved from a 3,000-square-foot condo to a much larger house,” says designer Jennifer Dyer. “The only things they took with them were a sectional sofa, a dining table, an ottoman and eight chairs.” The rest would have to be handled quickly, because between selling their condo and buying the house, they were left with only a few weeks to move.
Luckily, they were starting with an open and inviting floor plan, beautiful finishes and great bones. “Everything was custom-milled to my specifications,” says design principal Sheryl Schey, who handled the home’s design-build along with business principal David Carlin. Throughout the five-bedroom house, Schey worked with beautiful hand-milled moldings, hand-distressed hickory floors and wood ceiling beams and then added eclectic touches such as barn doors in the living room. “It’s a casual approach to traditional design,” says Carlin. Against that traditional backdrop, Dyer had to find a way to balance the couple’s distinct sensibilities. “The husband really loves contemporary, and the wife loves warm and elegant,” she says. “My job was to marry those styles and make them work within the house.” However, there was one thing both parties had in common, the designer notes: “They don’t like a lot of frill.” The goal, says the wife, was to have a sophisticated-looking house, but one where “you could feel comfortable having a playdate in almost every room.”
Given the tight time frame, Dyer decided to custom-make almost all of the furniture. “It worked better with their budget and was quicker,” says the designer, who had matching sofas made for the living room, a breakfast table for an eating area off the kitchen and an upholstered bed for the master suite. Dyer complemented those designs with luxurious fabrics that “wouldn’t feel too formal,” she says of textiles like the Romo linen she used for the family room pillows and a Cre´ation Baumann linen that covers the living room sofas. “The wife loves fabric with birds on it,” says Dyer, who chose a Robert Allen textile that fit the bill for accent pillows on the sofas. “That fabric started the palette for the room.”
Occasionally, going the custom route took a little longer. “They waited up to eight months for some of their rugs,” Dyer says of the custom-ordered designs throughout. In the dining room, a geometric wool rug anchors the clients’ existing table and chrome chairs from B&B Italia, while a wool-and-silk rug plays off the subtle honeycomb wallpaper in the master bedroom. “I designed spaces that were tone-on-tone with texture,” notes Dyer. “The key concept for the whole house was simplicity.”
That holistic approach is felt as the rooms transition from one to another, seeming to pick up where the other left off. “It’s my belief that a house should flow,” says Dyer. “Each room has an individuality and a personality, but everything coordinates without being too matched.” Outside, landscape designer Patricia A. Benner supplemented an existing pool terrace with two additional terraces. One she planted with four mature olive trees to provide shade for alfresco dining, and another she lined with pomegranate, peach, lemon, lime, orange and fig trees. “In the middle of Los Angeles, they have a whole orchard,” she says. The pool level is lush with star jasmine, grevillea and wild lilac.
In the end, the couple managed to maintain the house’s eclectic look but make it their own. “It’s comfortable and sophisticated,” says the wife. “And it reflects a good compromise between our styles. It feels like home.”