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A Young Family’s West Hollywood Home
A young L.A. couple infuse sophistication, style, and plenty of art into their introductory home redo
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When Sara and Trevor Smith began their quest to leave an apartment for bigger digs in 2012, they expected that their search would result in a speedy transition to Home Sweet Home. But the mission turned out to be more Let the Games Begin.
The young couple was suitably equipped for the ready-set-go pace of the competitive West Hollywood real estate market. But even with game faces on, they were still left without a new place to live after offers on four properties were turned down. Time to get aggressive. A promising new online listing pushed Trevor into hustle mode, and he called the broker. Before other potential buyers even had a chance for a look-see, the Smiths made their offer.
And this time, they came out winners.
“I was pregnant with our daughter, Ellie, when we found our home,” says Sara of the house, built in 1926. “The main criterion was a location that was walkable to restaurants and shops where we would meet other families along the way with our new baby.”
With the transaction finalized, Sara and husband Trevor were far from the finish line. The house had undergone a series of piecemeal remodels and was in desperate need of a cohesive new one. While researching on Houzz, they discovered the work of famed Los Angeles architect William Hefner. Sara and Trevor assumed Hefner would not consider taking on a small-scale project such as theirs, but they called him anyway, hoping he might give them a solid recommendation for another talent. Lesson learned. Don’t assume.
Sara and Trevor’s A-frame home, built in 1926, is in the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. “We laid out a list of goals that the renovation needed to achieve,” says Trevor. “We added three fireplaces throughout the house to give it a cozy feeling. And to take advantage of the southern light, we opted for transom windows and skylights so the spaces were always bright and happy.”
Photography: Victoria Pearson
Architect: William Hefner, Studio William Hefner, 5820 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90036; 323/931-1365, williamhefner.com.
Interior designer: Michael Ostrow, Grace Home Furnishings, 11632 Barrington court, Los Angeles, CA 90049; 310/476-7176, and 1001 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92262; 760/904-6337, gracehomefurnishings.com.
The Smiths formed an instant connection with Hefner, who, coincidentally, once lived in the same apartment building where they were residing. And the house bought by this soon-to-be family of three (Mason, born in 2015, has since joined the clan) reminded Hefner of the first home he bought with his own wife. So he agreed to accept the renovation project.
Sara and Trevor didn’t start the design process without doing their homework. The organized and prepared couple laid out a list of goals for each professional they hired. Their agenda for Hefner included a great room addition and a reconfiguration and expansion of existing spaces to make a dining room and walkway.
For the decorative vibe, the Smiths turned to Michael Ostrow, Brentwood designer and co-founder of the interiors emporium Grace Home Furnishings. His challenge was to fashion a warm but neutral environment that would highlight the artwork Sara and Trevor planned to acquire.
"The living room has a good balance of interesting pieces,” says Ostrow. “But not everything in a room has to be important and play a starring role. The eye needs a rest, too, and we worked hard to create those calm moments in the room.”
Century’s “Belle” cocktail table, a mirror from Made Goods, and a slatted wood settee play into the mélange of materials.
Pair of chairs (‘Trevor Chair”); sofa facing mantel (“Clark Sofa”): Grace Home Collection, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Chair fabric (“Maya”/Pewter #152103): Vanguard Furniture, vanguardfurniture.com.
Wall and ceiling paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Hanging lantern (“19th Century English Openwork Pendant”): Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
Area rug (hand-stitched leather hide, #9761 in Silver): Exquisite Rugs, exquisiterugs.com.
Drapery (“Katana”/Ivory, Ebony #GWF-2812.168, by Kelly Wearstler): Lee Jofa, leejofa.com.
Settee opposite chairs (discontinued): Caracole, caracole.com.
Settee cushion (“Kaili Strie”/Indigo): Beacon Hill, beaconhilldesign.com.
Pillows at end of settee (“Zelva”/Gunmetal #7650/01, by Black Edition); striped pillows (“Viridis”/Storm #7661/02, by Black Edition): Romo, romo.com.
Coffee table (“Belle Round Cocktail Table” #MN5574): Century Furniture, centuryfurniture.com.
Side table to right of chairs: owner’s collection.
Mirror over mantel (“Claude”/Cool Gray Faux Shagreen): Made Goods, madegoods.com.
Fireplace screen (“Tulun” #425013): Interlude Home, interludehome.com.
Bar cart (“Terrace Bar Cart”/Polished Nickel): West Elm, westelm.com.
Spiky sculptures on bar cart (“Urchin-Bright Silver,” large #D8.80089, and small, #D8.80090): Global Views, globalviews.com.
Splash of Color
The Smiths’ relationship with Ostrow and his business partner, Roger Stoker, actually has deep roots. When Sara and Trevor were students at Brentwood High School, they often walked past the retail village where the team’s business is located. Remembering it years later, they returned to select furniture for their first home. “Our intention was to buy one sofa and that was it,” Trevor says. “But then it was another piece and then another piece, and before you knew it, we wanted their design expertise and developed a friendship with them that remains to this day.”
Homeowners naturally use words such as “cozy” and “comfortable” when setting down their design aspirations. But Sara and Trevor emphasized that this before-and-after needed to achieve those goals while incorporating their penchant for simple style, free of overwhelming colors or decorative elements. A fresh white color scheme enhanced by the southern light that floods the home replaced the previously dark, heavy tones. With the neutral backdrop in place, Sara focused on artwork to dress up the clean palette. As a creative person with her own fine jewelry line, Smith+Mara, artwork was high on her list of priorities.
In the living room, random splashes of color in a painting by Secundino Hernández contrast with the geometric pattern on matching armchairs.
Art (Untitled, by Secundino Hernández): through art advisor Mia Romanik, miaromanik.com.
Remember how the Smiths wanted a neighborhood where they could walk to a range of businesses (rare in many areas of auto-dependent Los Angeles)? That foresight paid off. A casual stroll resulted in a chance meeting between Sara and art adviser Mia Romanik, who turned out to be their neighbor too. The Smiths worked with her to find pieces painted by emerging artists of diverse geographical backgrounds, from California to Spain and Germany.
“For a while, we visited galleries to familiarize ourselves with what was out there and tried to figure out how to go about collecting that way,” says Sara. “We had an affinity for contemporary abstracts. It was fortuitous that we met Mia; otherwise it’s an intimidating process. She filtered out a lot of the visual ‘noise’ for us.”
The largest addition to the house was the great room, an extension off the kitchen where the focal point is a large contemporary painting by German artist Max Frintrop. Shiny metal tables in the great room balance the khaki sofa and highlight the adjoining kitchen’s Calacatta marble.
Wall paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Countertop: Calacatta marble.
Backsplash behind range (glass tile): Ann Sacks, annsacks.com.
Cabinetry hardware (“Lugarno”/Polished Nickel): lights over island (“Clemson Classic Single Pendant”/Polished Nickel); bar stool (“Madeleine Armless Fabric Stool”); sectional sofa: Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
Art (Untitled, by Max Frintrop): through art advisor Mia Romanik, miaromanik.com.
With substantial framed canvases in mind as the primary accessories for the interiors, large walls were important. The new great room addition, in particular, provided plenty of uninterrupted surfaces for display. During the renovation, the great room was added on to the kitchen, where a flat dropped ceiling had hidden that room’s A-frame architecture. In the redo, the ceiling above the kitchen was knocked out to expose the vaulted space, but it was scaled down to a flat surface over the seating area.
Above the credenza painted in a dark cream neutral hangs Knaul, a contemporary painting by German artist Jan-Ole Schiemann.
“For us, the great room and kitchen as one unit was the most important component of the house,” Trevor says. “The challenge was how to orient the two spaces so they were separate but connected.” Sara notes this communal area allows family members to interact and participate in what’s going on yet claim their own spaces too—and that includes her young children. “I love watching them play underneath the banquette,” she says. “I like how they have designated it as their own little spot.”
A tufted banquette, designed by Ostrow for the Grace Home collection, was covered with a kid-friendly indigo-and-white striped vinyl fabric from Duralee.
Wall paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Hanging lantern (“Small Cornice Hanging Lantern” #SL5871): Circa Lighting, circalighting.com.
Dining chairs (“Madeleine Armless Fabric Side Chair”): Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
Banquette; dining table: Grace Home Collection, gracehomecollection.com.
Banquette fabric (#42384-193 in Indigo): Duralee, duralee.com.
Credenza (“Spencer Entertainment Console”): Redford House, redfordhouse.com.
Throughout the great room and the rest of the house, Ostrow helped refine the Smiths’ preferences. The curved living room sofa, the piece that drew Sara and Trevor to Grace Home Furnishings in the first place, prompted an assemblage of equally sculptural pieces that could stand on their own against the new French doors and tongue-and-groove wood on the ceiling.
The dining room boasts modern, glamorous furniture in shiny nickel finishes, but Ostrow added coordinating textural fabrics, grass cloth on the walls, and a warm, mirrored chandelier, making the room anything but cold.
“It’s about layering to create warmth,” says designer Michael Ostrow of the dining room, where a hammered metal table from Julian Chichester, stainless-steel chairs from Vanguard, and a Mr. Brown mirrored chandelier offer a sleek and glamorous touch. A black abstract on paper was a gift from Ostrow and partner Roger Stoker.
Wallcovering in dining room and hallway (“Haiku Sisal”/Charcoal #5006864): Schumacher, fschumacher.com.
Paint below chair rail (“Super White” #OC-152): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Chandelier (“Galaxy Chandelier”): Mr. Brown, mrbrownhome.com.
Area rug (custom, faux sisal): Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Dining table (“Dakota”): Julian Chichester, julianchichester.com.
Dining arm chair (“Boswell” #W745A); side chairs (“Boswell” #W745S); side-chair fabric (“Riptide”/Grey #152357): Vanguard Furniture, vanguardfurniture.com.
Armchair fabric (“Amour 260” by Dekortex): available through Interior Decorating, fabric-textiles.com.
Art (“Abstract Papers, Large: Black”): Natural Curiosities, naturalcuriosities.com.
Spiky sculpture on table (“Urchin-Bright Silver-Large” #D8.80089): Global Views, globalviews.com.
A tufted pouf from Lee Industries and a shapely “Leon” side table from Made Goods sit between a pair of lounge chairs covered in “Nantucket Zig-Zag” by Mark Alexander through Romo. Drapes and sheers are from Grace Home Furnishings’ Grace Home collection. The polished nickel rod is from Houlès.
Wall paint (“Balboa Mist” #OC-27); ceiling paint (“Super White” #OC-152): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Drapery (“Jack”/Grey); drapery sheers: Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Drapery hardware: Houlès, houles.com.
Area rug; upholstered bed: Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
Mirrored bedside chest (“Hastings Chest”); lounge chairs (“Simon Swivel Chair”): Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishing.com.
Lounge-chair fabric (“Nantucket Zig-Zag”/Dove #M249/05, by Mark Alexander): Romo, romo.com.
Table between lounge chairs (“Leon Side Table”): Made Goods, madegoods.com.
Tufted ottoman (#9309-10): Lee Industries, leeindustries.com.
White rug (Australian sheepskin): Overland Sheepskin Co., overland.com.
Table ("Leon Side Table"): Made Goods madegoods.com.
Jewelry: Smith + Mara, smithandmara.com
Watch: 1968 Rolex
The addition of son Mason meant that Sara needed to find new digs for work. A space in a corner of the master bedroom featuring the “Audrey” desk by Made Goods and a Lucite chair covered in Zinc Textile through Romo “Baxter” fabric provides a spot for Sara to use her computer.
Desk (“Audrey”): Made Goods, madegoods.com.
Art on desk (Material Evidence (Bucket), by Melissa Gordon): through art advisor Mia Romank, miaromanik.com.
Chair (“Verona”): H Studio, hstudio.com.
Chair-seat fabric (“Baxter Jet” #Z342/01, embossed faux fur, by Zinc Textile): Romo, romo.com.
Drapery (“Jack”/Grey): Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Statuary marble creates interest and pattern in the master bathroom, eliminating clutter.
Wall paint (“White Dove” #OC-17): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Cabinetry hardware (“Lugarno Pull”); wall sconces (‘Lugarno Single Sconce”); mirror on vanity (“Essex Vanity Mirror”); bath accessories (“Asbury”): Restoration Hardware, rh.com.
Countertops and door frame: statuary marble.
Sink: American Standard, americanstandard.com.
Faucets: Waterworks, waterworks.com.
Mirrors (custom): Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Painted in a calming mint green, daughter Ellie’s room is anchored by a black-and-white striped teepee from Land of Nod.
Wall paint (“Lido Green” #617): Benjamin Moore, benjaminmoore.com.
Valance on window; window-seat cushion: Grace Home Furnishings, gracehomefurnishings.com.
Black pillow: Target, target.com.
White pillow (“Mongolian Lamb Pillow Cover”/Stone White); dresser (“Mid-Century 3-Drawer Dresser”/White): West Elm, westelm.com.
Area rug (“Union Rug”/Navy): Pattern Society, patternsociety.com.
Sheepskin rug: Overland Sheepskin Co., overland.com.
Tent (“A Teepee To Call Your Own”): Land of Nod, landofnod.com.
Whether they are recapping the day in the serene master bedroom or saying good night to Ellie and Mason in their stylish kid quarters, the Smiths retire each night overjoyed with their home.
The back patio was outfitted with furniture from Koverton’s Parkview collection to accommodate outdoor gatherings and a spot for Trevor and Sara to watch their children play.
Sofa and chairs (Parkview Knest Collection); fabric; pillows: Koverton, koverton.com.
Cocktail table: owner’s collection.
Happy at Home
“We love this house and the fact that it’s something we’ve created together,” says Sara, noting that she and her husband are both homebodies. “It’s funny, we go on vacation to stay in nice hotels, but find we really just want to come home. We are very happy here.”
Sara and Trevor Smith with children Mason, 1, and Ellie, 3. “Our taste is overall pretty simple,” says Sara. “For instance, when you walk through the hallway, you look and see this moment of glamour in the dining room. There’s plenty of shine, but it’s not over the top.”