Bold Color-Block Moments Rule In this Modern LA Home

A ranch house in the foothills of LA offers a refreshing and unexpected take on Palm Springs modern.

Green and White and Yellow Exterior
Photography by Laure Joliet

The canary yellow front door demonstrates architect Barbara Bestor’s aptitude for color in one simple, striking stroke. “Anyone who thinks to paint a door that color is a genius,” says Michelle Nader, a longtime friend and client of Bestor’s and the owner of a modern but graceful ranch house in the foothills of Los Angeles. “Who doesn’t want to go home when they have an entrance like that to greet them?” 

Nader, a television writer and creator of the sitcom 2 Broke Girls, shares the three-bedroom gem with her 12-year-old son, Bruno, and is by any definition a dream client: adventurous, design savvy, patient, and fun. She let Bestor—one of Los Angeles’s most celebrated architects, who has been credited with turning Silver Lake into a world-class design destination—work her considerable magic unimpeded. 

Pink and White and Wood Living room
“There are real benefits to living in a single-story house like this,” says architect Barbara Bestor. “You walk through all of the spaces and they feel connected.” | Hexagon Perforated Sconce, Lawson Fenning, $525; Tuxedo Couch, Ten 10; Ogk Safari Daybed by Ole Gjerløv-Knudsen, 1stdibs; Jute Rug, Melrose Carpet; Womb Chair and Ottoman by Eero Saarinen, DWR, from $5,023; Damask Wall Hanging by Isa Dahlin, DeKor LA.
Photography by Laure Joliet

“Even though the lot is just a few hundred feet above Los Feliz Boulevard, it has what real-estate agents like to call ‘jetliner views’ of the whole horizon line of the city below,” says Bestor. “So we maximized that by elevating the pool a bit and moving the master bedroom to the back corner.”

Nader’s main priority was creating an outdoor living room, where she spends most of her time by the pool, sharing meals with friends or taking work calls when she has a rare day off. 

Black and White Patio
Custom Terrazzo Dining Table by Bestor Architecture, Outdoor Dining Chairs, Tivoli Coffee Table, 1.2.3 Series Couch, 1.2.3 Series Lounge Chair, Architectural Fiberglass Chairs, all Ten10. Photography by Laure Joliet

The architect brought on Cy Carter—a Commune alumni and founder of design firm Carter Design with his wife, Genevieve—for his talent to “mine the recent past for ideas that don’t rely slavishly on trends,” says Bestor. The result is a softer take on Palm Springs modern, inspired by the color-blocking style of painter Ellsworth Kelly. It’s a very Angeleno home: sexy, laid-back, and built for both entertaining and family life. 

“Barbara is a genius when it comes to floor plans,” says Carter, who walked through the project early on, after Bestor and her team uncovered the home’s original roof and reorganized the flow of the rooms to take advantage of the view and its potential for indoor-outdoor living.

“When I saw it, only the walls were finished, with some Douglas fir millwork and those great clerestory windows. But Barbara had a vision,” he explains. “She kept referring to the sunken living room as the ‘desert’ area, and then the rooms over by the kitchen, like the big TV room, as ‘watery.’ So we had real direction for the color palette.”

Black and Blue and Wood Dining room
Nader added Pop Art–style prints by artist Sister Corita Kent above the dining nook and in a bedroom: “I think they really work here, and help tell the story of this house. She really had a way with color.” | Print by Sister Corita Kent; Atomium Lamp, Lambert et Fils.
Pink and Purple and White Portrait

While some designers would have played up dustier desert shades, the Carters took a different approach. Following a trip to Joshua Tree in the spring, the couple noticed all of the wildflowers in bloom.

“We couldn’t believe that amazing pink,” says Carter. “So to us, fuchsia is a desert color.” (The idea carries through outdoors, where landscape designer Ana Saavedra planted a dry garden with South African and Australian plants that move with the wind and offer pops of purple and red.) 

Pink and White and Wood Living room
Tuxedo Couch, Ten 10; Ogk Safari Daybed by Ole Gjerløv-Knudsen, 1stdibs; Jute Rug, Melrose CarpetWomb Chair and Ottoman by Eero Saarinen, DWR, from $5,023; Damask Wall Hanging by Isa Dahlin, DeKor LA. Photography by Laure Joliet

“I knew when Cy started talking about purply pink couches that he really got it,” Nader says of the living room’s statement seating. Pieces like a cobalt-and-coral Swedish tapestry over the fireplace, chartreuse buffet in the dining room, and ocean blue barn door leading to the TV room all play off one another.

At first glance, the elements seem as if they shouldn’t go together. But by keeping the background neutral, with warm wood and white throughout, Carter was able to treat the house like a gallery space, choosing shades that share a similar intensity to create a more adventurous mix. The result is as refreshing and unexpected as that citron-hued door.

Black and Brown and Clear and White Dining room

Photography by Laure Joliet
Blue and Taupe and White and Yellow Bedroom
While the public spaces are open and welcoming, the bedrooms feel like a retreat, discreetly hidden down a corridor. | Kilim Rug, Amadi Carpets; Custom Bed, Dusk Designs

3 Ways to Add a Soft Touch

While the angular lines of Nader’s home are pure mid-century modern, a few key details round out the harder edges. 

1. To break up (and warm up) surfaces like concrete and stark-white drywall, Bestor installed wood paneling, milled to expose the natural grain. In a master bathroom or kitchen, especially, wood offsets cold stone and tile floors. 

2. When layering in textiles, incorporate luxe textures and plush details, such as velvet cushions, a sisal rug that’s fleecy underfoot, and nubby upholstery.

3. For outdoor spaces, balance spiky succulents with feathery, flowering plants and tall grasses. “There are tons of desert natives that are lush and colorful,” explains Ana Saavedra, who designed and planted the garden.   

Green and Yellow Patio
Nader, who grew up in a row house in Philadelphia, fully embraces the indoor-outdoor Southern California lifestyle. When she entertains, it’s almost always around the poured terrazzo table (a gift from Bestor) and patio furniture. | Architectural Fiberglass Chairs, Ten10. Photography by Laure Joliet
White Living room
Reupholstered Nelson Daybed, DWR. Photography by Laure Joliet

This story originally appeared in the spring 2018 issue with the headline "Pop Culture."

See more inspiring homes from the color issue:
The Outdoor Voices Founder’s Home Is as Cool as Her Clothing Line
Patterns Rule in this Colorful Austin Bungalow
Inside a Soulful NYC Home With a Knockout Art Collection

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Published on April 08, 2018 - 5:30am EDT

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