Pro Portfolio: Calm and collected in Santa Monica


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On Mondays, we post a new home whose design is presented in the architect’s or designer’s own words. This week:

Project team: Designer Mark Cutler, Mark Cutler Design, Los Angeles; architect William Hefner, Los Angeles; contractor Turpin Levin Builders, Sherman Oaks

Location: Santa Monica

Designer’s goal: to sum up the client’s family and create a backdrop for their life.

Designer’s description: The project is actually a remodel. The homeowners had lived in the house several years and wanted to freshen it up. It turned into a major project: The house was lifted off its foundation, and a basement was dug, then the house was put back on top. It became, essentially, all new construction. The client wanted a home that felt “beachy” without the clichéd use of shells and blue and white stripes.

What we came up with was a lived-in, modern house that had a “collected” feel to it. This was achieved by mixing modern pieces with more traditional ones or, in the case of the master bed, turning an antique door into a headboard. The family has three young boys, so it was important that every space be suitable for them as well as for entertaining.

Keep reading to see more details and photos of the house. ...

In the living room, a collection of eclectic small tables, including a Chinese stool and a Cambodian drum, was used instead of one large coffee table. The grouping is more visually interesting and flexible; the tables can be separated and used in different conversation areas.The ivory chenille upholstery is kid-friendly and forgiving -- important in a house with children. The quirky, colorful fireplace screen by Philip Nimmo Iron Works complements the owners’ collections of African objects, antique binoculars and family ephemera displayed on the open shelves. The sculptural foot stool is by Aqua Creations. The armchair fabric is by Rose Tarlow.

The understated dining room works well for family meals and dinner parties, with pocket doors that slide shut, concealing the kitchen. The antique French refectory table is paired with Mimi London end chairs with rush backs and suede seats and simple leather dining chairs by A. Rudin. The Vreeland chandelier by Fuse Lighting is fabricated with squares of multicolored mica.

The custom kitchen cabinets are topped with Caesarstone quartz, chosen for its consistency of color. Classic Rohl faucets are installed at both sinks. Flooring throughout the house is walnut.

For a clean, pulled-together look, the stainless-steel range hood is faced with whitewashed Douglas fir, the same material on the ceiling. The pendants, which look like 3-D macrame, are by Kevin Patrick McCarthy. The three-legged stools are from Cisco Bros.


Blue vinyl, impervious to peanut butter and Play-doh, was used on the banquette. A playful pendant from wholesaler Roost is centered over the reproduction table.

A custom iron chandelier by Paul Ferrante dangles in the three-story stairwell.

In the third-floor master bedroom, rough-sawn board-and-batten paneling was added, and the Douglas fir ceiling was whitewashed. The pendant lights’ wire-frame shades by Kevin Patrick McCarthy resemble lobster pots. A 200-year-old door that the owner found on a trip to Spain was turned on its side and repurposed as the headboard. The upholstered foot board conceals a pop-up TV.

The brushed stainless-steel refrigerator and shelves serve as a counterpoint to the rustic stone used in the basement-level bar area. The stair-step-like fountain in the lower right is used for rinsing sandy feet.

The existing swimming pool and Jacuzzi were updated. Two sets of gates separate the pool from the beach. The glass gates can be shut for security but still allow the view. A wooden pair can be closed for privacy. The table and chairs are by Janus et Cie.

-- Anne Harnagel

Photo credits: Tim Street-Porter



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