At first, Rosalie MacInnis was hesitant about repeating the past. She's a landscape designer who had grown up in the Pacific Palisades, a self-described close community near the Pacific Ocean in Los Angeles, and she planned to return to her childhood home with her own two kids and father. MacInnis had happy memories of the one-story property that was built in the 1930s—it’s close to hiking trails and the beach—but she left the area after her mother and sister had passed away. She didn’t know if her neighbors would welcome them again, or what to do with the house itself. Like everything else, it had changed.
"It had a streamlined modern curvature to the front facade, but sadly it was completely dilapidated," architect Chris McCullough says, who MacInnis hired alongside his partner Peggy Hsu. "The roof had caved in a number of places with water damage."
The architects’ namesake firm Hsu McCullough had to make some necessary repairs to the original structure, but the duo also had to alter it. MacInnis envisioned a space where her kids and their grandfather could have equal privacy and camaraderie, as well as enough room to entertain the frequent guests bound to stop by. "I have a circus walking through the house with kids and dogs, and a lot of activities and noise," MacInnis notes. "I need a calming place."
In order to make the new layout feel as cozy as it could be accommodating, McCullough kept the natural surroundings in mind. "We worked with Rosalie to create a material palette inspired by beach homes: light colors [made] bright with skylights, and many large aluminum-framed glass doors and windows." They even used a natural shade of stone on the original fireplace—the sole relic of the previous structure—as "a nod to the past," McCullough says.
Outside, however, was a different story. MacInnis requested overhangs for the front and back of the home to shade it from the L.A. sun, and she and McCullough agreed on an unconventional design that mimics the light patterns cast by the open ceiling in the living room. "We came up with a wood-framed diamond pattern that offered intriguing shadows throughout the day," McCullough says.
The specific look, which was achieved with help from multiple mockups by the contractor, is heightened by a coat of jet-black paint to match the rest of the moody address. And although it’s quite a color shift from the airy inside, the many windows and doors between the two keep them connected.
In fact, MacInnis feels connected, too. The hesitations she once had about returning to her childhood home have given way to a fresh start with familiar surroundings. Her children have been embraced by the neighbors she grew up with, and everyone is happy that they can call this place home once again. "I feel very lucky," MacInnis says. "The kids can learn the past and build the future together."
Get the Renovations Newsletter
From warehouse conversions to rehabbed midcentury gems, to expert advice and budget breakdowns, the renovation newsletter serves up the inspiration you need to tackle your next project.