Labor Of Love


When Jules Wilson of Jules Wilson Design and Paul Basile of Basile Studio decided to move in together, it was understood that not any home would do. Photos by Jay Drose

It was serendipity that steered them to this property. “We are still wondering how we scored this place!,” exclaims Wilson. They had stumbled on the property after a matinee one winter afternoon. “We knew instantly we had to have it,” says Wilson.

The couple were immediately entranced by the home’s spectacular view of the ocean and its feeling of solitude. Surrounded by trees, the home feels nestled in nature, unmarred by the cacophony of traffic or the scribble of electrical lines overhead. “From time to time we hear a lawn mower, but it’s mostly birds chirping in the trees,” says Wilson.

Built by architect Frederick Leibhardt in 1951, it’s considered one of the touchstones of modern La Jolla with the photographs by Julius Shulman to prove it. Liebhardt and his wife, Marianna aka Mimi, had been apprentices to Frank Lloyd Wright, and there are clear influences of Wright’s work at Taliesin West in the home’s stepped lines. 

Other than a slight modification in the 70s that expanded the master bedroom and the kitchen, it had otherwise been left untouched. “We essentially see the structure as a beautiful creation that was masterly crafted; we want to honor and respect its history.  We see our role as primarily restoring and bringing this gem back to life,” says Wilson, adding “We do plan to get under its skin and fully renovate the utilities and technology.”

Their discovery of the property feels fated. “We believe that not only did we find the house, but the house found us,” says Wilson. “It’s kind of like we are all in it together,” adds Basile. Despite the fact that the home was worn and abandoned, it was clear that it had good bones and that, during its prime, it had been well-maintained.

Restoring the house, an ongoing project, is clearly a labor of love. “We’re giggling right now,” says Wilson, “because there are so many elements of the house that we love. The structural materials and methodologies themselves, we believe, are the strongest gestures worth celebration.” The next step will be figuring out a landscape design that harmonizes and enhances the architecture. Also on the list: adding an ADU and creating spaces for cooking and entertaining outdoors. And, of course, furnishing the interiors.

“The renovation started the moment we walked through the door for the first time,” Wilson shares, “but we both decided it’s best to wait to furnish the house until we move in, fully absorb our surroundings and make the best choices that suit the home and our needs. We have agreed that this is a really special gem that we need to preserve, but the interior design of how we fit within the space is to be eclectic and more to our design sensibilities. We don’t want to recreate a time capsule! Preserve, protect and influence is our theme.”

Call it history in the making, one step at a time.