"I like my houses to have unique qualities but not be overpowering,” says Marc Webb, best known as a writer and producer, and the director of films including The Amazing Spider-Man movies and (500) Days of Summer. “I love the idea of craftsmanship and details that differentiate a space.” When Webb spied a 1920s abode in Los Angeles, he was able to look past the home’s extensive Moorish interpretation—notably the gilded and painted arches and Moroccan light fixtures—and focus on the dwelling’s potential. “The house had spectacular views, great bones and a sense of history, which is always interesting to me,” Webb says. “But I wanted a simpler flow and a functional, comfortable space that took advantage of the views.” Webb’s designer, Vanessa Alexander, could ￼through a series of loving restorations by the previous owners, but we wanted to bring it back to its roots while maintaining a nod to that Moroccan spirit,” she says. “We sought to modernize the home with rich materials and a warm yet masculine vibe that offered just enough Moorish appeal.”
Although the architecture of the home didn’t change, the façade’s yellow and green paint colors gave way to a warm white hue. “The house now feels like it was naturally this color,” says builder E. Nero Smeraldo, a veteran of other historic renovation projects. “We worked to make sure that nothing was drastically changed.” Though room sizes also didn’t change, a wall that separated the kitchen from the back stairs came down, and a new skylight overthat staircase appeared, bringing in light and a more open feel. Additionally, the team maintained some of the wood floors but darkened them with a walnut finish and stained the beamed ceiling to match.
Likewise, Alexander’s chosen materials for tile, lighting, cabinetry and plumbing fixtures subtly acknowledge the home’s many influences. “We gutted the house top to bottom in terms of materiality,” says Alexander, who met Webb through a longtime client. “We simplified the home’s story but still referenced all these influences (Spanish, Moorish and Old Hollywood) with the new materials. It was about editing ideas.” In a guest bathroom, for example, tonal concrete floors, a plaster finish on the walls and gray Moroccan shower tiles create a clean, modern space while referencing the home’s aesthetic. “It’s eye candy but executed in a simple way,” Alexander says. “We wanted these materials to look like they could have been here forever.”
Though the kitchen is new, its materials share a similar staying power. Minimalist cabinetry wearing brass hardware mingles with a modern island of rich walnut, while custom stools and lighting add classic elements. “The kitchen’s light fixture is modern, but its black metal patina provides age,” Alexander says. “The entire home was really about hitting those marks.” Furthermore, a new picture window in the kitchen takes advantage of the views. “Lining up the counters with the bottom of that picture window allows one’s eyes to go outside,” Smeraldo says. “It opens up the space and caters to indoor-outdoor living.” Being connected to the vistas—whether through expansive windows or a natural color palette—was another important factor. “This house is surrounded by amazing jetliner views and blue skies with lush foliage,” Alexander says. “So we focused on hits of ruby tones and deep blues mixed with natural patinas, leathers and metals, as well as plaster and concrete with a hand-hewn nature.”
Like the materials, the furnishings throughout have a common thread. “Each area has its own individuality, but there’s this subtle Moorish nod that’s executed in a modern way,” says the designer, who used a mix of pieces from the 1920s through present day. The living room, for example, includes a Moroccan rug, vintage Grasshopper chairs and a chesterfield sofa covered in luxurious velvet. The sofa’s low-slung silhouette offers a contemporary note against the antique items. “It was important to create a flow with the furniture and tell a cohesive story,” Alexander says.
While each room offers a fusion of elements, coziness was essential. “Marc is very multidimensional,” Alexander says. “And we wanted to create a place where he can take refuge after being on location.” For Webb, that translated into a welcoming home with simple touches and incredible comfort. “I love design; it’s a huge part of my life, but the goal was relaxation and having a place for my friends and family to stay when I’m in L.A.,” says Webb. “In my old house, I was never quite settled. Now, I really look forward to coming home. This house feels special in a way that’s inviting and warm. I like the aroma of friendship it has provided for me.”