Los Angeles is not exactly known for its sweeping countryside. But homeowners Mario and Chantal Spanicciati, who had spent significant time in England, did not let that deter them from dreaming up a serene dwelling for their young family.
“I’m half Swiss and grew up hiking in the Alps,” shares Chantal, who runs a mental well-being practice based on sophrology. Prioritizing wellness for her family was key to the project, as was providing a peaceful refuge from Mario’s fast-paced career. The pair found the perfect plot of land near a protected stretch of the Santa Monica Mountains that would allow them to create a connection to the natural world amid Will Rogers State Historic Park’s powerful views.
A former designer herself, she turned with confidence to Bobby McAlpine to create a warm and receptive environment for loved ones. “I understood they wanted a romantic house, not a showplace,” the architect shares. “A home that would be resonant and traditional, but also youthful, fresh and modern.”
Taking stock of the site, McAlpine devised an unorthodox concept: orienting the public spaces toward views along the back of the property, while placing service areas street-side. “It is not intended to be a trophy or a temple,” he notes. “It’s an experiential house and a place for this family to live in an authentic way.” To wit, entering the residence at the center of the complex is an intentionally disorienting experience intended to “make you lose the street,” McAlpine says, and guide visitors into a new realm. Connected by long axes, the architect’s symphony of structures “does not ramble,” Chantal assures. “He keeps it very succinct.”
While another architect from McAlpine’s firm, J. Allen Harris II, served as project architect, it was his colleague Ryan Moss—acting as project manager on the architecture side—who handled the daily coordination of endeavors on site. Spearheading construction was the father-and-son duo of general contractors Ron and Tyler Udall.
The completed compound is bookended by a green clapboard carriage house and guest cottage—the latter complete with a home theater aerie—while a façade of mortar-slathered tumbled stone evocative of the Cotswolds covers the main buildings. The result is a poetic combination of provincial-meets-sleek, particularly in the pool pavilion capped with a roof of artificial thatch.