This Rolling Hills home blends equestrian instincts with ample space for enjoying grandchildren

Coming home … again.

  • Category
  • Written by
    Zoe Alexander
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

Linda Wood, a businesswoman who frequently travels, has remodeled homes before. She is familiar with the plot twists that accompany a remodel’s story. But as her latest home took shape, new chapters evolved and the original projected completion date was extended.

The result is a dramatic transformation of an aesthetically bland house from the ‘70s into a distinctive, contemporary home. Best of all, the final chapter revealed an idyllic view of the Rolling Hills peninsula where Linda grew up.

Linda leads an active equestrian lifestyle, and with new grandchildren in the mix she needed a practical house complemented by refined finishes. With a lifetime of family treasures to incorporate, she also knew the interior design had to be tailored to her in a deeply personal way.

She hired designer Diane Barber, who specializes in construction projects and is also an avid equestrian. Diane created inviting spaces for Linda and her family, as well as her beloved personal objects and four-legged companions.

Linda’s design specifications called for a transitional style that is popular among current homeowners. Transitional homes blend contemporary and traditional design to provide a backdrop for a number of decorative styles. Diane knew this design would provide both functionality and the appropriate setting for Linda’s unique decorative items.

Linda says, “I had definite ideas of what I wanted, and with Diane’s expertise we were able to bring it all together. Having Diane keep me on track and guide me was a definite must—especially because of my schedule.”

At the heart of their plans was incorporating equestrian art. Linda always wanted an oil painting of her horses, and Diane knew the perfect person to create an elegant work for the home’s entry. She commissioned Canadian artist Elise Genest, who worked from photographs to create a painting that wowed Linda. “She captured every detail, so the likeness is perfect,” Linda says.

There is also a large driftwood horse head that resides in the outdoor family room. A birthday gift from Linda’s son, it enhances the decor as if it was crafted especially for the space.

Linda and Diane, both world travelers, brought some global touches to the home while also keeping things local. Diane installed a custom chandelier that was crafted by hand in Israel. It is an impressive sculptural touch that brings a modern glow to the room.

The kitchen gets a fresh feel from Brazilian granite sourced from Battaglia Marble in Harbor City, and the travertine in the dining room was imported from Turkey—a find from Classic Tile & Design in Hermosa Beach. The powder room gets a vintage vibe from an antique Italian sink and mirror, also from Battaglia.

Cabinetry throughout the home boasts fine finish details and was made by His Life Woodworks in Redondo Beach. The wood flooring is made from custom-milled distressed walnut that provides an earthy tone and unifies the space. Diane’s ability to source and blend textures adds depth and contrast to the neutral palette, which provides a cozy elegance.

Diane has worked with Linda’s architect Miles Pritzkat and builder Norman MacKnight on numerous projects. Their partnership enables them to effectively address the ever-evolving needs of the homeowner and the structural needs of the house.

Miles states, “There are times when you can practically start from scratch and create whatever you want, and other times when you need to let the existing building tell you what it always wanted to be.” Plans expanded to include two additional en suite baths, level the living room and provide a significant facelift to the exterior with new windows, doors, plaster, roof tiles and the addition of aged wood beams.

The outdoor family room is a covered patio featuring a retractable screen door, outdoor cooking area, fireplace, fans and heaters. Miles used classic Spanish architectural features on the exterior to pay homage to the historic influences of the area and to give the house some “romance.”

He sums up the chronology: “The project originally started as a fairly straightforward addition remodel. But in time plans for the new Rolling Hills Country Club with expanded golf course were approved, so the nice location and view would transform into an amazing view and location.”

The home—and the location—clearly had a story to tell. Now, as this chapter reveals, Linda and her family can enjoy the outdoors, indoors and majesty of the landscape that brought her home all over again.

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