Foliage can be a rare commodity in Los Angeles. So when David John Dick and Krista Schrock were asked to design the interiors of a home in Rustic Canyon—a neighborhood tucked away in the Santa Monica Mountains that’s brimming with oak, sycamore and eucalyptus trees—they were compelled to create rooms that honored the area’s coveted lushness. “All of the glass in the house opens it to the exterior and fills it with greenery,” Dick says. “One of the clients is a fine art photographer, and she’s very interested in nature, light and art. We’re drawn to those things, too. We wanted the interiors to reflect that.”
Dick and Schrock’s clients, Sal Taylor Kydd and Steven Kydd, and their two children were living in Venice when they found themselves making regular day trips to Rustic Canyon. “On hot days when everyone headed to the beach, we headed to Rustic to hang out in the park,” Sal says. Enchanted in large measure by the cooler temperature and verdant surroundings, the Kydds began searching for just the right property. When they found an idyllic lot marked by a magnificent canopy of old oak trees, they called on architect Greg Crawford to design and build a home. “We didn’t want an oversize house that dominated the lot,” says Sal. “Outdoor space is important to us, and we wanted something contemporary that spoke to the environment but looked timeless.”
Because foliage is plentiful in the canyon, sunshine is somewhat less available than it is elsewhere in Los Angeles. However, the front of the lot is bathed in natural light. “The home that was originally there was sited in exactly the wrong place to take advantage of the light,” Crawford explains. “I reversed the plan so the pool and yard are now in front.” Placing the new L-shaped structure at the rear of the property, the architect—who worked with project manager Joe Fedorowich and site manager Josh Frank on the project—clad the building with bleached reclaimed cedar, glass, bonderized steel and lime plaster. “The cedar references nature and the vibe of the canyon,” Crawford says. “The metal and glass are modern without having large unbroken panels of glass that would be too sleek for this house and aesthetic, and the plaster has a wonderfully soft feel that adds lightness to the other materials.” The home sits comfortably within the landscape Crawford designed, which is minimal and natural. “We retained the existing oak trees and added plants that worked with the oaks,” says Crawford. “Those plants also softened the existing fences and the new retaining wall, keeping it simple and layered.” To connect the inside with the exterior, Crawford used clay plaster for the interior walls and added a massive window wall in the living-dining-and- kitchen space. The direct sunlight it brings in is balanced by more sunlight, which is cast from a large oculus at the top of the stairs and the clerestory windows.
As dynamic as the architecture is, so too is the rich textural experience Dick and Schrock created for the interior landscape. “Sal, Steven and the kids love nature,” Schrock says, “so we thought a lot about natural materials and things that age.” Adds Dick, “Our work is influenced by the wabi-sabi tradition and Japanese design. We strive for something that doesn’t feel perfect, and think the way a house feels is more important than how it looks.” In this vein, the designers applied layers of materiality that include white-oak cabinetry outfitted with brass hardware in the kitchen and the bathrooms. They wrapped the living room’s replace surround in brass, too. “Brass patinas and even turns green sometimes,” Dick says. “We sourced some of the hardware from a shop that sells vintage pieces so they’re weathered and scuffed up and catch the light in interesting ways.” Dick and Schrock also placed ceramic accessories in the dining area and kitchen, and they hung a cluster of ceramic pendants on the terrace to lend the rustic quality of craftwork. “Ceramics are tactile and imperfect and give the feeling of home and something handmade,” Dick notes. The fabrics the designers selected for the upholstery, rugs and draperies also add textural interest. “The living room sofa is covered with soft cotton,” Schrock says. “A lot of the rugs are soft wool blends, and the drapery fabric in the bedrooms is lightweight linen.” For the palette, the design duo again looked to nature, opting for more neutral and earth tones. “There’s so much color surrounding the home that there wasn’t the need for a lot of color inside,” Schrock adds. “The interior felt calmer without it.&rdquo
A similar sense of easy balance marks Schrock and Dick’s furniture choices. “Much of the interior architecture is very angled, so we wanted to bring in curves to loosen up the space,” Dick explains. Hans Wegner-designed Wishbone chairs, for instance, pull up to the dining table, which is lit by a beehive-like pendant. “The fixture is by a Czech company, whose work is inspired by the lighting in old opera houses,” Dick adds. In the living room, an Eero Saarinen-designed Womb chair and a vintage Danish chair with a low, sinuous profile offset the rectangular form of the re surround and the grid-like steel window frames. “Balance is important so things aren’t too industrial or too modern,” Dick says. “We wanted to give the home a modern aesthetic yet also have it look and feel calm. Sal’s photographs have a similar calm. This is really an artistic home.”
— Laura Mauk