The only thing better than owning a brand-new custom home in Southern California is acquiring a historic residence designed by a master architect. Topping the ranks of the latter are the early-20th-century houses by Wallace Neff, best known for creating the estates of Douglas Fairbanks and Mary Pickford, Charlie Chaplin, and Katharine Hepburn. Kitchen designer Laurie Haefele retained the essence of Neff’s style in this San Marino home, originally built for Douglas Fairbanks Jr., while giving the current homeowners their dream kitchen.
“The entire house was gutted, but we did a lot of research to make sure we were preserving the right things, such as the single-barrel vault that encompasses the kitchen and the arched pocket doors that separate the dining room,” says Haefele, a former architect at Gwathmey Siegel. “There were no-holds-barred here. My clients wanted the best kitchen imaginable.” The resulting 750-square-foot space, with an additional butler’s pantry, contains three Sub-Zero 36-inch refrigerators, three Miele dishwashers, a 60-inch Viking Professional range, seven stainless-steel Franke undermounted sinks, two warming drawers, and two walk-in pantries.
“It’s always easy to make a kitchen look beautiful, but the challenge is in making it practical, too,” says Haefele, who included a separate children’s island with locks on the drawers so that it could double as a wet bar. “The family has five kids, and the kitchen is where they spend the majority of their time. This is also where the family computer and home security surveillance system is, so the room has a multitude of functions.”
Outfitted with Wm Ohs handmade cabinetry, the kitchen also features a limestone hood and a Renaissance Bombay island in an etched turquoise finish, both from Wm Ohs. The colors complement the tile backsplashes painted with the family’s crest, which, like the lighting fixtures, were suggested by Jack Lowrance and Richard Gaz, who designed the home.
“There are so many details and products to keep up with that it’s like doing a smaller form of architecture,” says Haefele, “especially here, where the kitchen is the size of a small house.”
Haefele Design, 310.429.3525, www.haefeledesign.com;
Lowrance Interiors, 323.655.9713; Wm Ohs, 303.996.2681, www.wmohs.com