Something Old, Something New

Diaz + Alexander Studio gives the classic French Château style a modern twist by combining clean, geometric forms with rich materials.
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The charm of a period home is hard to capture in a new build, yet timeworn beauty defines a new family home by Diaz + Alexander Studio in Studio City, California. The four-bedroom Mary Ellen House is a modern take on French Château style, with a thoughtful mix of new and old materials. One of the most striking is the heart oak timber flooring from Madera.

"While this is a new build, it has an old charm to it," explains architect Rob Diaz. "Our palette is a blend of Southern California warmth with a big splash of European influence."

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The interior features clay walls and impressive swaths of oak flooring, complemented by sumptuous textiles and sculptural lighting. "We wanted the floors to shine and pull back from a busy design," says Diaz of the decision to use Madera’s "live grade," which celebrates the raw, natural beauty of the timber.

Madera, a design and fabrication firm that utilizes the medium of wood for innovation and creative expression, produced 14-inch-wide heart oak timber flooring in up to 24-foot lengths for the expansive first floor. The wood flows seamlessly into the stairs, which feature 13-inch treads to match the wide-plank flooring.

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"Rob and his team wanted to highlight the natural beauty of wood, so instead of going with a prime grade selection—which is common these days—they specified live grade, a dynamic cut that embraces the natural beauty of the oak tree," says Daniel Clason-Höök, managing partner and owner of Madera. "This cut and grade tells the full story of the tree with articulated center cracks, rift and quarter edges, and an overall dynamic look."

The house was developed to sell on the open market—and key to its appeal is the timeless beauty of its timber-rich palette. Unsurprisingly, it quickly went to a family of four who were enchanted by the play between old and new. "Mary Ellen House was a big moment for me," says Diaz. "I am so proud of the finished home."


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