When designer Anne Carr first saw this Southern California home, it was the property’s large center courtyard that excited her most. The house was originally built in the 1940s, and was updated just once in the ’80s, giving the designer carte blanche: she had the opportunity to take it down to the studs and plan out every single detail. From making savvy layout decisions to reduce street noise to ensuring most spaces had easy access to the outdoors, the home is now a far cry from the dated “Palm Beach” style Anne first saw. Think tons of natural light, a mix of natural materials and beautiful floor-to-ceiling windows. The designer tells us more:
Hi Anne! First, where is the home located? How did the location factor into the design of the space, if at all?
The home is located in Brentwood. It is very close to Sunset Blvd., so noise was of the utmost concern. Although the house is U-shaped, I made sure the master bedroom and one guest bedroom were on the side of the house farthest from the busy road, while the family room and kitchen were on the side closer to Sunset. These parts of the home were probably going to be used in the evening and night when the traffic was gone. The house has a center courtyard which is great for entertaining, so I added a fountain to provide a pleasant and serene sound.
What are some of the main changes you made to the design?
The house was built in the 1940s–probably a post war build–and had only been updated once, but that was in the 1980s. It was a pinkish coral color and had a lot of ornate trellis’. I think they were going for a Palm Beach look, but it just looked sad. I fell in love with it immediately because I love a center courtyard and this one could be accessed from most of the rooms. There were many more rooms, yet they were small and choppy, which I hate. The house was taken down to the studs because all of the electrical and plumbing needed updating and the windows were not up to code. By doing this, I had the ability to reconfigure all the walls.
I took the three old rooms, family room, kitchen and dining room and made one large space for the new kitchen/family room and then a small dining room. I don’t like to give a dining room too much real estate because people only use them a few times a year. In fact, if we had decided to live there, I wouldn’t have even made a dining room at all. We also took a bathroom and closet from one of the bedrooms and combined them to make part of the master bedroom suite (walk-in closet and master bath) and then added a 500 square foot bedroom with a cathedral ceiling.
Do you have any favorite design details or features?
Because the center courtyard was a big selling factor, I wanted to be able to enter from most of the rooms which made it great for entertaining. I added French doors to three of the rooms that faced the courtyard and then removed the back wall of the living room and replaced it with a 15-foot Fleetwood Door. I loved how private the master bedroom seemed, but the overall kitchen was my dream. I have always wanted a large wine closet and we used the subzero 30” wine storage with a capacity of 146 bottles. I wanted a unique piece of marble for the island–one that you do not see everywhere. I found a slab of princess white, which has a lot of color variation, but I had it leathered, which mutes the colors and really roughs it up.
When designing for indoor/outdoor living, what are a few things that a homeowner should consider?
Obviously, the weather makes a huge difference. If it is in California, you will be using indoor/outdoor spaces much more throughout the year than if you live in the north or east. It’s also important to really tease out what you use the space for. Will you be entertaining and need seating for guests or will it be more of a place where you will lounge by the pool? I also like to mix up the companies I use outdoors. I hate when it looks like a homeowner bought a standard set of furniture. I like to use a mix of materials and vendors and often use a vintage piece, similar to what I do indoors. I used to recommend dark fabrics on furniture, but now because of the durability of outdoor textiles, you can use much lighter fabrics and materials. I actually just had a client use a bright white chenille!