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Pacific Notion

Tranquility reigns in a Los Angeles house renovated by Barbara Barry.

“Remodel heaven” is how Barbara Barry describes the house she redesigned in Pacific Palisades, California. The homeowners had chosen the property for its site—a large lot with an established garden, near the ocean, on which perched a badly designed dinosaur of a house with dark interiors and oversized rooms.

Evoking an idealized Midcentury California home, this new living room by Barbara Barry glows with golds and muted greens set against an ivory background. The vintage French coffee table is from the 1950s.

A tabletop still life expresses the relaxed spirit of the home.

Prescribing a total renovation, Barry stripped the house down to the studs and reconfigured rooms—even lowering ceilings—to create a more intimate scale. Windows were added or resized as needed to bathe the new space in natural light. In the end virtually every surface was touched, and yet the whole project was completed in only nine months—an extraordinarily ambitious timetable.

Wood paneled walls painted ivory provide a consistent backdrop from room to room.

How was that speed possible? “The recipe for achieving a tight deadline is always to resolve all details before beginning construction,” Barry explains. “Design is all about the details, and detailed drawings defining each material transition, if thought through and resolved ahead, ensure seamless construction.”

The ramada, with its stone fireplace and casual seating, extends the house’s Midcentury aesthetic outdoors.

One of her techniques for achieving a unified aesthetic vision is to keep detailing consistent from room to room. “The same detailing throughout makes for a cohesive experience—and a calming one,” she notes. For this project, she designed ivory-painted panels as a recurring element. Subtle grass cloth wall coverings in pale colors like faded eucalyptus and soft caramels set off the painted panels and add subtle textures. The palette was inspired by a Mexican fig tree in the interior courtyard.

A Mexican fig tree on the property inspired Barry’s color palette for the interiors.

“My favorite thing about this house is how it wraps around that huge tree,” says Barry. By playing off the colors in the tree’s paint-bynumbers bark, she honored the homeowners’ desire for a house where parties could flow effortlessly from indoors to outdoors. And more than that, she achieved a dreamlike, natural tranquility that suffuses every interior space.

Subdued, natural and luxurious are the words to describe the master bedroom. From the honed limestone fireplace surround to the floor-toceiling wool drapes, the details are minimalist but of the highest quality.

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