Into the Woods


Montalba Architects designs a warm, mid-century marvel in Venice

A view of one of the outdoor gardens. Photos by Kevin Scott.

“Growing up, I spent my time between Lausanne, Switzerland, Carmel and Southern California. Having spent most of my formative years in towns and cities full of new and old forms of architecture, history, culture of design and the arts, I believe architecture and one’s environment can truly improve quality of life,” says David Montalba, founder and principal designers of Montalba Architects on his approach to architecture. It was this doctrine that guided the design of a Venice home that has a modern floor plan, abundant access to the outdoors and an overall warmth throughout.

End tables from Lawson-Fenning surround a pair of Montauk sofas covered in Otis Textiles. Photos by Kevin Scott.

Crafted for a young family with a sophisticated sense of technology and style, the 5,000 square foot home takes full advantage of the Southern California weather and landscape. “They had a clear sense of how they wanted to live, but not how the home would be laid out,” notes Montalba. “Ultimately that is what we do, which is to show clients varying paths of how they can design their lifestyle and home environment.”

Each space was positioned to enjoy one of three exterior courtyards and gardens while maintaining a sense of privacy. “It was important to make spaces where they could enjoy the outdoors from anywhere within the home, which was done by creating moments of pause, optimizing natural air flow and sculpting natural light throughout the home,” he says. Gallery-like moments were created throughout to showcase the couples’ dynamic collections of rarities found during their travels around the world.

A custom dining table by Denver Modern sits below the Drop system by Lindsey Adelman. Photos by Kevin Scott.
Thomas Hayes stools line the island that houses a Sub-Zero range.
Photos by Kevin Scott.

While the main objective was to compose modern lines and a family-friend flow, creating an overarching warmth was crucial for the clients. Montalba achieved this by installing wood in each space on floors, ceilings and cabinetry that follows the stylistic direction and creates a cozy vibe. “By contrast, the concrete block walls give the home an almost mid-century sensibility while clearly creating a dialogue with the wood and other earth tones,” notes the architect. “We also really wanted to keep the tones darker to minimize glare and control the natural light which is so strong in that part of L.A.”

Sofa from Environment Furniture, covered in fabric from Otis Textiles. Photographs by Nicole Cohen, Abstract art by Jeffrey Cutuair.
Photos by Kevin Scott.
Hermes wallpaper dances behind a modular mid-century shelving system that serves as an office space and curio cabinet. Photos by Kevin Scott.

Designers Brandon Quattrone and Mat Sanders to provide interior selections and personality. “Designing this modern home near the beach for a young family, we wanted to support the architecture while giving the client an inviting and livable space,” says Quattrone. “It was key to strike a balance between simplicity and casual comfort.”

The designers relied heavily on cool tones in the art, lighting and furniture to balance the prevalent wood and concrete. “The materials in the build were very warm, so we worked in an earthy palette of grays, deep blues and sun-washed army greens,” notes Sanders. “Comfort was a high priority so we paid special attention to texture combinations in order to achieve the cozy-factor”

The master bedroom offers clear views of the exterior spaces as well as family photos.
Photos by Kevin Scott.
Sconces from Apparatus shed light on the stone-clad master bathroom.
Photos by Kevin Scott.

Being the clients were extremely involved in the process, there was no big reveal, rather a serene happiness with the final result. “One of the challenges we always work with is that designing a crafted custom home means shepherding and going on the journey together, which often is based on strong communication and collaboration with the client,” says Montalba. “It’s particularly rewarding to see the home becoming the framework of the family, and to see them enjoying its modern warmth and landscape.”

An outdoor dining area is equipped with a table from Sempre and a group of pendants by Heather Levine. Photos by Kevin Scott.