Los Angeles-based designer and builder Rob Diaz is no stranger to buying and transforming houses that are "beyond saving." In fact, he relishes embracing the unexpected and taking architectural risks that may be challenging-like installing a garden on the roof between two A-frame structures.
When Diaz purchased this property in Sherman Oaks, California, he tore down the previous structure and began work on the outdoor space before building the home itself, underlining the importance of transitional indoor and outdoor living in southern California.
"I knew I wanted to plant really large Manzanilla olive trees in the back centered on these two steel French doors, so I had those craned in and installed before we even started the house," he says. "We dug the 50-foot long pool first, planted the trees, and then built the house."
The four bedroom, five bathroom project features a unique A-frame that divides the home into two halves. On the second level, French doors lead to a quaint outdoor garden in the center of the home. Though the home is modern in shape, Diaz was inspired by old European and French architecture when selecting his building materials. Rather than using concrete or drywall, he gravitated toward the liveliness and rusticity of plaster and clay (the interior walls are all hand troweled clay from Clayworks in England).
"The whole outside of the house was laid piece by piece and it's all natural material. There's a play between France and California," he says. "There’s no concrete on the outside of the property, it’s a mix of cobblestone and limestone. I just wanted everything to be natural."
Diaz inserted unexpected creative moments throughout the house, like carving out a nook for a daybed underneath the staircase, or placing an old piece of lumber in the powder bath. "Powder bathrooms are the most fun to do because you can do anything you want," he says.
The warm and airy kitchen sits adjacent to the living room and is situated in the back of the property with easy access to the pool and outdoor greenery. "What is hard to do hard on a 50-foot wide house is to put the kitchen in the middle of the house,” Diaz explains.
A stunning 16-foot marble countertop lies beneath a vintage Angelo Leii large flush mount. The tile backsplash is from Cle Tile, while the stainless steel appliances are Thermador.
Right off the kitchen, the living room offers a beautiful view of the backyard. The large glass steel doors and bright white drapery by Everhem allows natural light to fill the room. The focal point of the living area is the sleek Apparatus fireplace made of Arabescato Calacatta marble. "I left the fireplace marble to just speak for itself, I didn’t do built-ins there," Diaz says.
Beneath the staircase is a recess daybed built out of white oak. Inside the hideout, you'll find little cubbies for storage and a task light-making for a cozy reading nook. The walls are plaster from Clayworks and the contemporary wall large sconce is from Apparatus.
It was crucial for Diaz that the primary suite was separated from the other two bedrooms and bathrooms on the top floor. To reach it, you have to walk through a glass hallway on the left side of the A-frame. The retreat has fluted walls with demi rustic clay and custom floating oak closets made of white oak. Off the suite is its own private landscaped terrace.
In the primary bath, a single white resin tub graces the center of the room with an arrow-shaped pendant from Apparatus hovering overhead. The geometric cylinder mirrors from Bower Studios add dimension above the massive 17-foot Arabascato marble on the vanity. "We put it [the marble vanity] over the windows, and we have motorized Roman shades that drop down behind the vanity, so we had to wrap the vanity 360 degrees," Diaz explains.
The exquisite outdoor landscape has a 50-year-old coastal live oak tree, 60-year-old Manzanilla olive trees, and Brazilian pepper trees. "We also have water fountains on the property, including a fountain in the back from Bali. We have 4,000 pound piece of marble that we had installed as a fountain in the front yard," Diaz describes. The resort-style quartz pool is a rough cut limestone block.
While it may look like concrete at first glance, the facade of the home is made of a beautiful Horizon stone, while the patio is composed of cobblestone and limestone from Eco Outdoor Natural in Beverly Hills. "We also did a gravel driveway and corrugated steel roof,” Diaz says-a decision that adds texture to the space.