Designer Janice Barta is a double threat. Not only is she a skilled designer effective at crafting chic, comfortable spaces for her clients, she is also a dab hand at interior architecture and detailing. For her clients, Todd and Kairavi Daum, Barta’s combination of skills proved to be the perfect match. Before settling in Los Angeles, the Daums had traveled and lived around the world, including a sojourn in Hong Kong. Knowing they were going to put down roots in Southern California, the couple began a lengthy search for the perfect neighborhood in which to make a home large enough to accommodate their three children, a Labradoodle and extended families for the holidays. Their hunt led them to a Westside locale with tree-lined streets and gracious older homes, and so they began building. Through friends, the Daums connected with Barta, whom they tasked with facilitating the interior architectural details and furnishings. “It was only natural to work on the decorative elements and furniture as well,” Barta says.
Arriving at the house-in-progress, the designer found a Regency-style dwelling of painted brick that fit seamlessly amid the older homes in the area. “It reminds us of the East Coast homes we both grew up loving,” says Todd of the residence designed by architect Philip Vertoch. Inside, though, “it’s a traditional center-hall plan with more of a contemporary feel,” Vertoch says. To create the modern vibe, the architect tweaked the traditional layout to allow for open spaces instead of closed-off rooms while maintaining certain vintage elements such as the grand entry hall with a gently curving staircase. In this elegant classic-meets-contemporary mash-up, Barta worked her magic.
To create dynamic spaces within the home, the designer began by specifying and drawing all the interior metalwork and woodwork, including the paneling, the cabinetry and the replace. She turned to rich materials—dark oak flooring, marble and Caesarstone—to add layers of detail and interest. This well-balanced aesthetic is exemplified in the kitchen, where she painted the cabinetry white and gray and used Calacatta marble with bold veining for the backsplash and on the island, yielding a more modern direction.
Barta made other subtle variations to the architecture, such as laying the entryway wood in a herringbone pattern for a dramatic effect; elsewhere it’s placed end-to-end. Another intervention included coffered ceilings. “Within 10 minutes she had drawn two of her favorite styles—one of which worked perfectly for us,” Todd says. The designer integrated moldings too, taking pains to match the details with the furnishings that would grace the spaces. For example, in the entry, instead of using what she terms a “super bubbly” raised molding, Barta chose a thinner style that nearly disappears. “It made the architecture look clean,” she says, and acted as the ideal foil for more contemporary furniture choices.
To execute the intricate architectural elements, the designer turned to builder Garnik Badalyans, who extended the utmost care and attention required for the project. A case in point: the skylight in the entry. “Because it had to be structurally stable to support the chandelier, electrical engineering was involved,” Badalyans says. “Luckily, we had good shop drawings from the interior design team to turn image into reality.”
Just like the architectural detailing, Barta knew the interiors needed to deftly blend old with new. “Kairavi has a modern, fresh style,” says the designer, adding that the wife had a few pieces from Asia she wanted to mix into the home. Existing pieces from the Daums that made it into the design range from the ornately carved mirror and bow-front chest in the entry to the breakfast room’s mod Lucite chairs to a painted Chinese screen in the living room and a console table in the family room. Barta also incorporated new pieces with both traditional and modern profiles, such as the living room’s comfy, classic sofa that plays off a pair of armless lounge chairs perched on bases with a brass finish.
Landscape designer Randon Garver achieved a similarly compelling mix of classic and contemporary elements in his concept for the grounds. Terracing, a time-honored technique, broke up the slope in the front of the house. In the back, “the homeowners wanted a certain amount of hard surface space for entertaining,” says Garver, so he chose modern concrete pavers to fulfill that wish. A spacious lawn runs outward from the patio, providing a rich green carpet, and flowers bloom throughout the year.
The end result is a sophisticated and charming residence that seamlessly harmonizes within the existing community. “I really appreciate how some neighbors feel this home could have been a part of their neighborhood for years,” Barta says, “but I’m most pleased that my clients feel I was able to work collaboratively, understanding their voice and design sensibilities, and translate that through my work and my own design direction.”