Steven Covey advises in his Seven Habits for Highly Effective People to begin with the end in mind.
When builder and developer Ami Harari opted to build a new spec home in the hot, hot, hot Beverly Grove neighborhood of Los Angeles, he met with his real estate team long before he tore down the existing old house on the 6,500-square-foot lot. “I know every house in the neighborhood,” says Harari, principal of LA Build Corp, “and I would go to every open house. Before I built, I wanted to know what people want in this neighborhood, what the market will bear, and where we should invest in the amenities and details.”
Harari’s market research resulted in a crisp, modern 6,500-square-foot home with a $5 million price tag, with living spaces on three levels, six bedrooms, a gourmet kitchen, home theatre, massage room, gym, an elevator, luxe materials and a fully landscaped yard with a lap pool.
The builder’s long list of desired features came to fruition through his collaboration with architectural designer Eran Gispan, principal of NE Designs, Inc., with whom Harari has worked on many projects. “This house was a challenge,” says Gispan, who is based in Sherman Oaks. “The lot is 50 feet by 130 feet, which is typical in this area, and there are two established neighbors on either side. Between the neighbors, the adjacent sidewalk and the street, there’s a privacy issue, particularly if you want to put a large house like this on the lot. And today, everyone wants big windows for light and the indoor-outdoor lifestyle.”
Gispan met the challenges by creating a three-level plan that includes a full lower level with a game room, home theatre, gym, massage room and two bedrooms; a main level with the living room, dining room and kitchen, as well as a bedroom or home office; and an upper level that includes the master suite and two additional bedrooms.
To ensure privacy, the designer presented largely a blank face to the street and created a small entry courtyard. “I put the entry on the side of the house and recessed it,” says Gispan. “That allowed me to use a glass front door, since people can’t see it from the street. On the second level, I used bands of windows—some vertical, which I had etched for privacy—and some horizontal, which bring in light to the bedrooms without sacrificing privacy.”
The home’s modernist exterior is marked by smooth stucco walls, ipe wood cladding and cantilevered roof overhangs. Large expanses of telescoping glass walls connect the interior to the side and back yards, flooding the interior with daylight. Even in the lower level, a glass wall opens on to an expanded light well, designed to look like a patio.
The home’s modernist exterior is marked by smooth stucco walls, ipe wood cladding and cantilevered roof overhangs.
Inside, pale floors and walls create a neutral background for numerous details, including a dramatic open-tread staircase, cantilevered from the wall, that connects the three levels, and the state-of-the-art kitchen that sports dark wood cabinetry, quartz countertops, a walk-in pantry and a flush-to-the-ceiling range hood. Modern, linear fireplaces warm several rooms, including the master suite, where the bathroom’s walk-in steam shower includes a second glass door that leads to a private atrium, open to the sky. Even the ceilings throughout the house were detailed with recessed channels, painted black, to house the track lighting systems.
Outdoors, Harari and Gispan worked with DoubleGreen Landscapes to develop every inch of the yard spaces for outdoor living, including creating a 53-foot long lap pool that runs past the side of the living room and opens up to include a lounging area and a spa. The backyard’s wood deck includes an outdoor kitchen, areas for dining and seating, as well as a fire pit. Shrubs and small trees along the garden’s side walls create a sense of quiet isolation.
To stage the house, Harari turned to Yeara Design an interiors firm that furnished the house with low-profile, European-modern pieces in a palette of cream and grey, mixing fabrics with metals, wood and stone, giving the home a distinctly sophisticated appeal.
The bottom line? Harari’s market research and instincts proved right. The house sold not long after it was completed.