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Lost & Found

After an incongruous ’70s remodel, a Spanish Colonial Revival in Los Angeles gets its groove back

By Jenny Bradley Pfeffer / Produced by Darra Baker
  • Karyn Millet

    The 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival house in Los Angeles’ Little Holmby neighbor-hood may not have been perfect, but it had legs—classically beautiful legs hiding behind a bungled update or two. Thankfully, -Colette Dartnall and Rick Roskin saw the potential from day one.

    “When I first saw the house, it had a warmth to it,” Colette says of the home she shares with Rick and their children, Henry, 21 (now at Vanderbilt), William, 18 (a freshman at Tulane), and Adele, 14. “It had great bones. I knew it could be our forever home, but it needed to be given back some of the character it had lost. After a remodel or two, it had become more of a ’70s sliding-glass-doors kind of house.”

    Although the ubiquitous sliding door has its place, it’s certainly not in a charming Spanish Colonial. So, with the original floor plans in hand, Rick and Colette reached out to architect Tim Barber and designer Kishani Perera for help.

    “The homeowners said the magic words,” Barber recalls. “They told me that they wanted a really modern floor plan in a traditional house. They wanted a cozy, traditional house that lives for today.”

     

    The 1930s Spanish Colonial Revival now takes full advantage of the beautiful backyard.

  • Karyn Millet

    Because the floor plan had been radically (and somewhat randomly) changed, the project required more than just a new set of doors. No detail was left undiscussed during the two-year project. Rooms were combined. Original features were rediscovered. The master bedroom was given an entrance that no longer requires Colette and Rick to enter via a walk-through master bathroom.

    Alluding to what awaits inside the house, archways and encaustic tiles were added to the front courtyard. Every interior space now relates to the property’s charming outdoor spaces, thanks to six new access points to the courtyard and backyard.

     

    Architect Tim Barber added archways and used modern versions of historic tile from Mission Tile West to add authenticity to the gallery.

  • Karyn Millet

    “Rick and Colette make so much use of the outdoor spaces,” Barber says. “In the 1930s, there just wasn’t as much engagement with the outdoors. The house had just one access point to the back, and that was through the laundry room. With an active family, that just didn’t work.”

     

    Arched steel-frame doors between the kitchen and den lead to a bougainvillea-canopied eating area furnished with woven chairs and a table from World Market.

  • Karyn Millet

    In the living room, an outdoors focus meant installing French doors below a quatrefoil window—not just for access to the yard but also for additional light. Updates were thoughtful. Oak floors were retained and refinished. A dark Colonial fireplace surround was replaced with a simple mantel with chunky corbels—streamlined yet appropriate, authentic yet not museum-like.

    Furthering the more modern take on Spanish Colonial, Perera brought in colorful elements with a rich edge. Sofas are covered in a garnet-hue cotton velvet accented with navy blue. An ottoman is covered in a vintage kilim rug. A card cabinet topped with colorful art offers a creative storage solution. For impact, an Indian peacock mirror hangs above the mantel, echoing the curve of the doorway’s arch.

    “The design feels collected and well-traveled,” Perera says. “It has a Spanish-y, Mediterranean, Moorish vibe—layered and global.”

     

    The arch between the living room and stairway, original to the house, became a touchstone for architectural updates. Designer Kishani Perera layered global pieces—vintage pillows from Hollywood at Home, a peacock mirror from Design Mix Furniture, and a Moroccan rug from Lawrence of La Brea—to give the space a colorful, collected aesthetic. Creative storage comes in the form of a vintage card catalog.

  • Karyn Millet

    In the expanded dining room‚ original mahogany wainscoting was meticulously duplicated for the extra square footage, illustrating the great care taken to honor the home’s heritage while prioritizing the family’s needs. Relocating the original laundry room and replacing those distinctly 1970s aluminum sliders with French doors let the couple erase boundaries between indoors and out when they entertain. The dining room now facilitates a natural flow between the front courtyard and back garden. New arched bottle-glass doors serve as an additional “bread crumb” that visually leads guests from one space to another. Utilitarian, as well, the doors can be closed to offer privacy while still admitting light. Nickel-plated door hardware is based on an original piece Colette salvaged.   

     

    Art Deco rug was a colorful gamble in the dining room. “The rug just spoke to us,” Perera says. “It adds a classic yet cool, hip feel to the room.” Twin custom light fixtures were inspired by period-appropriate lights seen in a book by actress Diane Keaton.

  • Karyn Millet

    Through the bottle-glass doors, a large kitchen highlights the home’s new and improved, light and airy nature. White cabinets replace mint green. A terra-cotta tile floor takes the place of linoleum. A cozy breakfast area and a small bay window with a sink offer views of nature. Dual peninsulas topped with natural stone provide a wealth of work space.

    Playing off Barber’s neutral backdrop, Perera pulled out all the color stops. A smattering of vibrant kilim rugs animates the terra-cotta floor. Copper pendant lights and red counter stools make a vivacious statement against the simplicity of white. 

     

    White cabinets, an open plan, and a wealth of counter space are just a few of the improvements made to the kitchen.

  • Karyn Millet

    Wildly hued pillows made from vintage textiles adorn the breakfast area, lending cheerful embellishment to a space that might be the most heavily trafficked in the house—used to jump-start the morning with coffee and newspapers and end the day with family dinners.

    “We tried to capture the character of the house while adding quirky elements and -color—lots of color,” Perera says. “Tim brought this house back to life. Then we came in and added the finishing touches. Colette and Rick were so open to color. They had no fear.”

     

    Orange midcentury-inspired chairs, raspberry-hue Sunbrella upholstery on the banquette cushion, and a slew of chromatic pillows make the breakfast room a happy, colorful space with a view.

  • Karyn Millet

    Equally energetic, the den radiates welcoming warmth—impressive in that it was previously the garage. A navy blue sofa dressed with a phalanx of patterned pillows holds its own against a colorful kilim rug and a stained checkerboard ceiling, a more modern take on a classic coffer. Floor cushions and a leather pouf bring a bohemian edge to the classically inspired architecture—a magical mix for this family of five.

    “We wanted to ensure that this house is specific to the Roskins and the way they live,” Barber says. “It’s authentic but imaginative. It’s high and low. There were no frivolous or capricious choices. They were all carefully designed with this family in mind.”

     

    A sofa upholstered in a navy fabric from Manuel Canovas and strewn with a collection of textural, patterned pillows pairs beautifully with a colorful kilim rug.

  • Karyn Millet

    Dreamy and serene, the layered master bedroom is a new addition given period details—quartersawn white oak floors, a simple plaster fireplace, and French doors—to ensure consistency with the original rooms. An ebony-painted, turned-wood four-poster, Moroccan wedding blanket, and antiqued-silver nightstand lend to the global scheme.

     

    The dreamy, light-filled bedroom is masculine and serene. An ebony-painted four-poster and a blue-and-white palette contrast white walls. “It’s a really simple room,” Barber says. “There’s almost no detail except for the new fireplace.”

  • Karyn Millet

    A barrel-vault master bath harks back to the romance of the 1930s with graphic black-and-white tilework, leaded-glass windows, and arched details. A favorite of Colette’s, it honors the past while embracing the way we live today.

    “It seems to me that the more a room is lived in, the more that space feels special,” Colette says. “Tim and Kishani somehow made the house feel both old and new, open and intimate.”

     

    Graceful arches, Calacatta marble counters, and black-and-white tile with lacy details were painstakingly researched to offer a nod to the home’s 1930s roots. Leaded-glass windows, a bank of satin-metal-framed medicine cabinets, and a barrel-vault ceiling ensure that the space is flooded with light.