High Waters MarkAuthor:Abigail Stone
Interior designer Carly Waters faced her toughest critic when she renovated a midcentury modern home in Pacific Palisades: herself
“Unlike a developer,” says interior designer Carly Waters, “I save homes and honor the home’s original architecture and finishes.” In this case, with a home built in 1958, that meant a midcentury foundation that wraps three bedrooms and three bathrooms into 2000 square feet.
Waters, who’s self-taught, transitioned from law into organizing before becoming a designer. “I wanted to merge organization with design to create functional, stylized spaces,” she shares. “I believe the ideal space is one where form meets function.” Her signature style, which she dubs “warm minimalism,” relies on white spaces and clean lines and textures in order to create peaceful and purposeful rooms.
“When we originally looked at the house,” Waters remembers, “the ceilings felt very low, the house felt very dark and the layout was just plain wrong.” Chalk that up to both the way life has changed in the last sixty years — with open-plan living and the blur between inside and out pulling more light into indoor spaces —- and the many tweaks that had been made to the house throughout the years. Years of neglect as the house sat abandoned had degraded the interior; the plumbing, electrical and heating systems needed upgrading. “Nothing functioned. To add insult to injury, the roof had sprung a leak, causing major water damage to the walls and ceiling. I had my work cut out for me,” she laughs. But Waters saw potential in the house and its location at the end of a private road.
She started by stripping away the remnants of the multiple bad remodels that the house had endured with the objective of exposing the home’s character. “In the original floor plan, the living room and kitchen/ dining room were on opposite sides of the house,” Waters remembers, “So the first order of business was creating one cohesive space that opened up to the pool.” That meant swapping the master bedroom and kitchen/dining room locations. “We knocked out almost all the interior walls, and part of an exterior wall as well.” Twenty-foot wide pocket doors open the inside of the house to the deck and swimming pool, blurring the line between indoors and out.
To further unify the central living space, Waters hid the kitchen’s appliances behind cabinetry and forwent backsplash to keep distractions from the view to a minimum. “Our objective was to continue the flow from space to space; we wanted the eye to focus on the picturesque hillside that is seen through the back windows.” As an exclamation point to the new layout, the original fireplace was salvaged. Refinished, it’s now a focal point.
With the layout tweaked to perfection, Waterns turned her attention to the interior furnishings. “I believe every home calls for furniture that matches the style and space. For this house, we curated and customized every piece of furniture, repurposing only two pieces of furniture from our previous house: a queen bed and a midcentury credenza I’d found at The Rose Bowl Flea Market.”
The result is bright and airy space. “Prior to the remodel, we thought we were going to need to raise the roof to brighten the home,” Water says. That turned out to be unnecessary. The addition of six skylights, the expansion of the existing windows with larger casement-style designs, as well as a few new openings, was enough to flood the interior with light.
“Every single person who comes over to our house tells us that they feel like they’re on vacation. We set out to create our very own private retreat, and achieved it through the use of wood — and more wood! — texture and bringing the outside in.”