mahogany with froSteD glaSS cutoutS make the front Door functional anD Decorative, creating a Statement piece

that aDDS viSual intereSt from the Street aS well aS from the interior of the home.

Sweet
p r a i r i e m e e T s b a l i i n T H e H o l ly w o o d r i v i e r a

by pamela coranTe-Hansen

Surrounded by boxes on the first night in their custom Hollywood Riviera home, Andy and Christine Balk were treated to an unexpected bonus. A dazzling sunset over the Pacific and a movie-worthy view of the illuminated cityscape were enough to keep the television off for three nights. “And we actually talked to one another,” Andy quips. Married 34 years, the couple never imagined they would end up with ocean views and an expansive front lawn in one of the South Bay’s most coveted neighborhoods. Perched on a 14,200 square foot lot rising gently on a slope of mid-century modern dwellings, the Balks’ seaweed-green, metal-roofed house morphs harmoniously into the hillside, its low-profile facade ducking coyly behind a modest screen of gnarled pines that were planted when the neighborhood was first subdivided. As understated as the home is, the design takes full advantage of the trapezoid-shaped corner lot, allowing for an extravagant 1,000 square feet of near wrap-around storage space, ocean views from the basement and a garage deep and wide enough to contain the Balks’ RV. “When we were building the garage, people would park on the street and just stare. Men would drool,” says Andy. A veritable drive-in man cave, the garage’s discreet profile belies its epic proportions: 36 feet deep, 22 feet wide, 900 square feet. Indeed, architect Louie Tomaro and his clients shared a vision of honoring the neighborhood’s character, and the garage is just one example of how a modern design and floor plan can be seamlessly incorporated into an established subdivision.

“WHEN WE WERE BuiLDiNG THE GaRaGE, PEOPLE WOuLD PaRk ON THE STREET aND JuST STaRE. Men would drool,” says andy. a veritable drive-in man cave, the garage’s discreet profile belies its epic proportions: 36 feet deep, 22 feet wide, 900 square feet.

Taking cues from Frank Lloyd Wright, Tomaro designed the home with a linear emphasis reminiscent of Wright’s classic Prairie School style, but with tropical touches such as hip roof design and extensive use of dark wood. The Balks own a home on Poipu Beach in Kauai, and a trip to Bali sealed Christine’s passion for the Indonesian aesthetic. “The emphasis was to make an open house that flows easily to the outside,” Tomaro

says. “The doors telescope away and add a true indoor-outdoor feel. We live in an environment [that is ideal for] indooroutdoor living, so you almost inherently design the home that way.” Plans for the home were completed in four months, and the Balks attribute the successful execution to the fact that they stayed true to Tomaro’s design. The couple initially consulted with three other architects, but was not completely sold on the plans. Having once lived in a Manhattan Beach home designed by Tomaro, they decided to work with him on their new house. Tomaro incorporated some of their ideas into the plan, creating larger windows in the kitchen to maximize natural light and ocean vistas, and adding a bathroom easily accessible from the pool to allow current – and future – grandchildren to shower off before traipsing through the house. Construction was completed in 13 months. Andy and Christine were involved in the process, occasionally rolling up their sleeves and pitching in, as evidenced by an aerial photo of the home under construction, featuring Andy on the roof as it was being completed. Christine, a former apparel and merchandising stylist, oversaw the interior design on 4,100 square feet of living space. “I get a lot of inspiration from hotels,” Christine says. “Crazy places, not just fivestar properties.” The master bath is a subtle display of Christine’s affinity for day spas, with a shower floor made of smooth stones, and a wall clad in sleek travertine subway tile separating the shower from the bathtub. Christine jokes about her obsession with glass tile, which manifests itself in all four bathrooms. A basement bathroom boasts iridescent blue-green and golden glass tiles in the shower, providing an elegant foil to a distressed lighting fixture with an edgy, industrial vibe, equally suited for a 1940s army barracks or an underground nightclub. Christine sourced the fixture from a company in England. The pool bath dazzles with turquoise-blue and algae-colored glass tile set in a stylized wave pattern. Glass tile is nowhere to be found outside on the pool deck, however. Instead, subtle stippling highlighted with embedded shell gives the swimming pool a contemporary feel, its cerulean hue complementing the Pacific Ocean panorama that extends to Point Dume. The pool holds salt water, an effort to offset the effects of harsh chemicals on swimmers and the environment. Christine notes that her taste in pool tile errs on the side of understated. “With all those fleur-de-lis and patterns, one false move and it’s overwhelming,” she says. In keeping with her spa theme, the sage green ceramic tile evokes calm and tranquility. If peace and calm can be found in a kitchen, the Balks have mastered it. The eye is drawn to a simple yet refined backsplash of pearly white glass tile with an inlaid pineapple motif. A nod to the couple’s love for the island of Kauai, the design provides a sense of place without falling into cliché. White, prefinished custom cabinets from Canadian cabinetry firm Downsview provide ample space to stash kitchen appliances and essentials, yet avoid giving

off a storage-unit feel. The marble counter tops, pale jade in tone, display booking motifs and draw the lush greens of the outdoor landscaping into the home. Christine selected the lighting fixtures, three generous globes of clear glass suspended from the 11-foot high ceiling, adding a modern contrast to the traditional fixtures and flooring. Anchoring the home’s main level, wide-plank oak wood floors in a dark custom stain add a degree of warmth and help carry the Indonesian influence. With three dogs having full run of the house, the Balks chose a semi-distressed, flat finish. On this level, a long entryway provides a clear line of sight to the pool, drawing visitors directly from the statement piece of a front door to the pool deck with city, mountain and ocean vistas. The wood flooring extends from the entry to the three bedrooms, dining room, kitchen and living area. Downstairs in the basement, polished cement flooring gives a hip, warehouse-y energy to the couple’s work areas. Natural light illuminates an expansive office, with windows that provide enviable ocean views. A smaller studio is primed for creative work. The basement level offers access to the garage, and a quick jog up a short flight of stairs leads to a landing with an Alice-in-Wonderland-esque square door. Beyond the door, which one enters with the help of a folding chair, is the fabled 1,000 square-foot, fully finished storage area, in which an adult over 6 feet tall can stand without having to crouch. In addition to housing the water heater, central vac and cooling and security systems, there is more than enough space to stash seasonal items and household staples. Originally, the area was to be left unfinished, but the allure of having additional storage space inspired Andy to work with Tomaro and make it functional. But the space also holds an item that carries deep significance to the Balks. Suspended from a beam is a six-by-five foot tapa, or Polynesian textile made from the bark of a native tree. A gift to the Balks from the wife of the stonemason who worked on their Kauai home, the tapa features delicate stamped bird and plant motifs. “She made it when she was 15,” Andy says. “We became good friends with them, and they were surprised that we would go to their house.” A self-made businessman who left home at 15, he says, “I feel very fortunate, but in the end, we’re all the same. There’s no magic formula; you just have to treat people well.”

36

SoutHBaydigS.com | 09.16.2011

a lanai off tHe kitcHen and dining area affordS panoramic VieWS of tHe Santa monica mountainS, SoutH Bay SHoreline and tHe cityScape. landScaped terraceS eVoke tHe cantileVered SurfaceS preSent in Some frank lloyd WrigHt HomeS. landScaping By SoutHern california landScape.

tHe SaltWater pool iS underStated to keep tHe focuS on tHe expanSiVe VieWS. cement Work By pearce conStruction.

pHotograpHy By paulJonaSon

caBinetry By canadian firm doWnSVieW proVideS ample Storage Space WHile adding decoratiVe flouriSHeS.

irrideScent glaSS tile in tHe BaSement leVel SHoWer eVokeS tHe Blue-green toneS of Sea glaSS and tHe Warm SaBle SandS of local BeacHeS.

09.16.2011 | SoutHBaydigS.com 37

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful