Life & Style | Home & Interiors

A beautiful family home above Sunset Boulevard

A radical transformation of a much-loved family home on Hollywood’s tranquil hillside

  • By Charlotte Butterfield, Editor, InsideOut magazine
  • Published: 17:12 October 14, 2012
  • InsideOut

Hollywood Hills home
  • Image Credit: Supplied picture
  • Water and fire combine in the beautiful landscaped gardens that are, quite literally, made for entertaining.
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Julie Berchtold and Samantha Harris are no strangers to designing for the great and good of Hollywood. Actress Charlize Theron even entrusted the pair to
design five of her properties, so when long-time Hollywood residents Bernard and Zsuzsanna Silver approached them to bring their Forties’ home up to date with a stunning contemporary transformation, they immediately agreed.

The couple had lived in the four-bedroom, single-storey house since the Sixties, raising their three children in the breathtakingly peaceful neighbourhood of Trousdale Estates, above Sunset Boulevard. After nearly 40 years in this property, they wanted to recreate some of the tranquillity and exoticism they’ve enjoyed throughout their years of international travel. As they didn’t want to move from this idyllic location that they loved so much, the idea of a transformation of their existing home began to take shape. Julie explains, “When we first met with the Silvers, they wanted to simply update a powder room. By the end of our meeting, they were so excited that they decided to go ahead and renovate the whole house!

“We looked at the existing floor plan and showed them how we would be able to create a completely different home without having to knock the existing house down as we felt that would be tearing down history.”

Now, from the moment you enter the house through the pivot front door, you are wowed by a floating double fireplace structure that casually separates the large expansive family room and living room. Julie explains how their clients, who devote a great deal of time to entertaining and fund-raising, were excited about the idea of building an indoor living room bar that extended through the exterior wall and out to the pool area. Ceilings were raised and walls were moved – all in order to bring the outdoors in. Julie says the house first appealed to the homeowners, “because it is a very peaceful getaway above the hustle and bustle of the city, while still having amazing views, so it made sense to try and maximise these from every room.”

Julie remembers that in the initial discussions Zsuzsanna excitedly exclaimed, “I want to enter my house by walking on water.” This inspired the designers to create something different from the other homes in the quiet avenue. Samantha explains, “Many of the neighbouring houses have a more traditional look, but we wanted to create a modern oasis. When we think of creating a tranquil environment for our clients, we think of blending the inside and out. With this, a person is bound to feel more grounded and connected to the environment. The sound of the many serene water features and the play of water dancing on the limestone walls is a constant reminder to let go of the natural stresses of the day.”

A ‘floating’ wood raft that extends from the edge of the pool just above the waterline has a fire structure in the middle with cushions and pillows surrounding it, creating a romantic and serene feeling.

“By the end of our year together, Zsuzsanna had so much fun creating her dream home with us that she offered to work as our apprentice! I think it was our biggest compliment to date,” Julie says.

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