When Paul Jennings and Adrienne Grant were looking for a house in Brentwood, they knew just what they wanted. “An indoor-outdoor lifestyle was our priority,” says Grant, who notes they also hoped for traditional architectural details and cozy textures within a sensibility that conveyed “the cheerfulness and playfulness of West Coast living.” The house they found was ideally situated to meet those goals, with its west-facing backyard and expansive views, but the structure itself was not ideal. The couple decided to have it razed, and they called on architect Ken Ungar and designer Meg Joannides to start from scratch in creating the warm, welcoming house they envisioned.
“They grew up on the East Coast and were fascinated with the idea of indoor-outdoor living,” Joannides says of her clients. “They craved that openness and light.” To create a structure that would begin to embrace those values, Ungar devised a layout in which the main rooms—the kitchen, breakfast area and family room—open to the rear yard. “We wanted to make the house feel like it was connected to the outdoors,” explains the architect.
Within that flowing plan, Ungar designed rooms that would meet the family’s needs in terms of aesthetics and function. “I really wanted to emphasize proportion—all four walls and ceiling—to get the right feel,” says Jennings, a real estate developer. Ungar skillfully kept spaces feeling intimate by avoiding abnormally high ceilings that might make the rooms seem baronial, yet sized them to be spacious enough to accommodate the family’s many gatherings. “We wanted our house to be both a peaceful refuge and a welcoming, cheerful place to entertain,” Grant says. “We wanted every space to be inviting.”
To make sure of that, Joannides used a palette of light neutrals punctuated with textures and pattern to play up the home’s sense of openness. “It was critical that we didn’t hinder that feeling with dark furnishings and fabrics,” explains Joannides, who designed the living and dining rooms—on either side of the foyer—to “coexist harmoniously.” A custom chinoiserie coffee table standing between linen-covered sofas in the living room speaks to the hand-painted wallcovering in the dining room. “That wall is quite important, as it’s seen from the foyer,” says Joannides. “It needed to make a statement.”
In those spaces and throughout, the designer selected furnishings with strong profiles but kept the embellishments to a minimum. “The shapes might be traditional, but we didn’t goop up the forms with a lot of trimmings and welting,” Joannides says. “Everything has a fresh and clean but still luxurious feel to it.” Even the kitchen, which features the same marble on the countertops and backsplash, keeps things understated. “We didn’t want it to be overly ornate,” explains the designer, who worked with Cooper-Pacific Kitchens to create cabinets that would stretch up to the ceiling, drawing the eye to the ceiling’s tongue-and-groove detail.
In addition to the kitchen’s tongue-and-groove ceiling, the home, which was constructed by builder Roy Abbott, also features coffered ceilings, wainscoting, crown moldings and other elegant millwork. The architecture’s traditional sensibility belies the state-of-the-art technology that lies underneath. “We incorporated a Savant audio-video system,” says Abbott. “It’s an advanced automated system, and it runs the whole house—the lighting, the pool and the spa.”
The property’s landscape, which was originally designed and installed by landscape contractor Ronald M. Hamamoto, adds an enveloping last layer. Recently, the couple brought in landscape designer Andrea Scharff to enhance the grounds with more than 600 new plants. “We tried to provide some sculptural aspects to the beds and give them more fullness,” says Scharff. “We also added an extra dimension of aroma with scented flowers like Zephirine Drouhin roses as well as Eden roses.”
Just as the couple had hoped, the house offers tailored yet comfortable interiors and an easy connection with the outdoors. “It makes a cohesive statement,” says Joannides. “There is a great flow between spaces, and all of the rooms are inviting. None of them give the impression that you aren’t welcome to come in, relax and enjoy.”