Free to strike a Zen pose

A 1950s house that was ‘closed into it­self ’ opens up to a dif­fer­ent mind-set.

Los Angeles Times - - BEFORE & AFTER - By Kavita Daswani

The Bene­dict Canyon prop­erty that de­vel­oper Jerry Gureghian and his part­ners ac­quired in May of last year had a rooftop book­ended in a style rem­i­nis­cent of Ba­li­nese pavil­ions, which may have been be­cause of the pre­vi­ous owner’s con­nec­tion to In­done­sia.

That gave Gureghian and his co-de­vel­op­ers, broth­ers Ty and Ravi Bho­jwani, a spark of in­spi­ra­tion.

“I en­vi­sioned it as an Aman re­sort,” said Gureghian, re­fer­ring to the lux­u­ri­ous Sin­ga­pore-based bou­tique ho­tel chain. “I wanted it to have seren­ity.”

But first, a major over­haul was needed. In­clud­ing the per­mits — and re­plac­ing the sewer line, plumb­ing, elec­tri­cal, putting in smart-home tech­nol­ogy and adding 1,500 square feet of liv­ing space — the re­vamp took about a year and cost roughly $1.3 mil­lion.

Built in the early 1950s, the now 4,300-square-foot house pre­vi­ously had 8-foot ceil­ings, nar­row cor­ri­dors and old-fash­ioned bath­rooms and kitchen.

“The en­trance was through a long, dark hall­way, which made you feel like you were go­ing through a tun­nel,” Gureghian said. The wood pan­el­ing had a vaguely nau­ti­cal theme, and the wood floor­ing had turned orange.

“And al­though it had the pool and the gar­den, it was closed into

it­self. We wanted to open it up so the house could be en­joyed from all sides,” Gureghian said.

What the house had go­ing for it was that it was on half an acre, more than half of which is on flat land, 10 min­utes from the heart of Bev­erly Hills.

“It wasn’t one of those houses bunched up on a smaller lot, and that gave us the abil­ity to add space,” he said.

The new own­ers ended up adding 40% more space, in­clud­ing a new 800-square-foot fam­ily room, which was given a dou­ble­height ceil­ing and opens out onto the pool.

They also ex­panded and re­out­fit­ted the kitchen and added an of­fice/guest suite and a larger dou­ble mas­ter suite with his and hers walk-in clos­ets and separate bath­rooms.

Through­out, they used nat­u­ral stone and wood fin­ishes and put in large win­dows and French doors to con­vey an in­door-out­door sen­si­bil­ity.

Some parts of the house had to be dis­man­tled al­most to the studs; a new roof and new pale wood floor­ing were in­stalled. Ul­ti­mately, the house went from three bed­rooms and four bath­rooms to five bed­rooms and seven baths.

“It of­ten hap­pens on th­ese projects that you dis­cover some­thing about the house you didn’t know,” Gureghian said. “In this case, we dis­cov­ered that we could dou­ble some of the ceil­ing heights to cre­ate a grand en­trance.”

Out­side, the pool and front and back yards were com­pletely re­done: The pool was re-tiled and re-plas­tered, and land­scap­ing in­cluded adding trop­i­cal plants, palms and bam­boo.

Gureghian said he wanted it to feel like the oc­cu­pant was loung­ing at a re­sort. “We wanted to keep the whole Zen thing,” he said, “with a bit of Gior­gio Ar­mani thrown in.”

Pho­to­graphs cour­tesy of To­tal Agent

AF­TER: A large par­cel al­lowed for the home’s ex­pan­sion to 4,300 square feet; the kitchen ben­e­fited from the $1.3-mil­lion over­haul.

BE­FORE: The kitchen was old-style, and ceil­ings were 8 feet.

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