Design Vidal, original photo on Houzz
Design Vidal, original photo on Houzz

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Interior designers Karen and Guy Vidal moved quickly when they discovered a corner house north of Los Angeles overlooking the glimmering Silver Lake reservoir, the views of which are coveted (not as much as ocean views, but homes by the reservoir are much less expensive). So even though the open house they dropped in on one Sunday was for a “stucco box with zero charm, small windows and thick carpets,” Guy says, they decided to take a leap of faith just to be near that water.

“It was so ugly,” he describes. “We went in, and nobody was there. Nobody wanted to buy it. There was just the agent sitting there. The price had dropped from $599,000 to $549,000. We saw an opportunity to get a house on the lake, and we didn’t want to miss it. We made an offer that day.”

The updating process didn’t move so fast. The couple spent a year just figuring out the design while collaborating with architect Ana Henton, then nearly six more years working out the kinks, like how to bring light into the dark interiors. Huge windows weren’t enough, so they had to punch out five skylights to brighten a second-floor addition.

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Houzz at a Glance

  • Who lives here: The Vidal family
  • Location: Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles
  • Size: 3,286 square feet; 4 bedrooms, 4 bathrooms

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The budget skyrocketed and, ironically, even though water had influenced the couple to buy the home in the first place, a different kind of water nearly ruined it. One rainy winter Guy had to wake up repeatedly at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. to drive over to the house and check that the tarps were secure so rain wouldn’t leak onto the original red oak floors. Then the hole-in-the-ground swimming pool threatened to overflow and flood the house, so he had to siphon off the water with a garden hose into the street.

The labor of love paid off, and now the couple can finally enjoy their hard work — and water-facing view.

Real African redwood veneer covers multiple phenolic resin panels on the exterior, creating a unique wood grain design that’s virtually maintenance free — no painting or oiling needed. “We’re designers, so we like to use new material and experiment with things,” Guy says.


The house was a stucco box “with no style or character,” Guy says. “The small windows made the interior really dark.” The couple added large windows and multiple skylights to brighten the space.

The Vidals completely changed the floor plan from basically a one-story house to a split level with four floors. The living room is on the lowest level; a dining room, kitchen and library are on the second level; the third level is a big main bedroom; and the fourth level contains the kids’ rooms.

The interiors are “modern and cozy, not cold,” Guy says, achieved with midcentury modern furnishings and bright, colorful fabrics and artwork, most of which comes from local artists.

A vintage screen helps divide the main living space from a bar area. Divide the Room With a Stylish Screen.

Painting: Alexandra Wiesenfeld; sofa: custom designed by Design Vidal

“We like white walls and lots of colors,” Guy says. Karen’s favorite colors are orange and pink, so those come up a lot. The couple bought the curtains on a trip to India.

Guests enter the home at the living room level. A staircase leads up to the dining room and kitchen area.

The kitchen was previously a small galley that combined a bathroom and laundry room. The Vidals opened the space into one large kitchen area.

Karen always wanted a semicircular booth like the one her grandmother had. This one is custom made with an orange and pink fabric-covered back and a seat made from automobile upholstery in a custom color. “It’s a throwback to the diner era,” Guy says. “We don’t have a formal dining room. We have this.” See 700 Square Feet of Color in an LA Apartment.

All the light fixtures in the home were designed by glass artisan Lianne Gold. The red oak floors are original to the house, which was built in 1937.

The kitchen island features pink powder-coated-steel cabinets. “We wanted something that is timeless,” Guy says. “These never need to be painted. They’re very heavy duty.”

The countertop is the same material found in science laboratories. “It’s kind of cool,” Guy says. “They’re heat resistant, stain resistant and very durable.”

Clock: American Clock Company

Custom stencil designs in the couple’s daughter’s room create a “Moroccan moderne look,” Guy says. Browse Wall Stencils.

The desk is a custom powder-coated-steel design.

Lianne Gold created the bedside lights from vintage Italian glass from the 1940s.

Bed: custom; painting: Michael Illes; bedspread: Isaac Mizrahi for Target

Guy keeps his clothes in a custom made powder-coated-steel unit along the wall. A bubble chair hangs in a landing area that leads to Karen’s walk-in closet. “We saw the chair and thought it was cool; we imagined ourselves sitting in the chair and reading and looking at views of water,” Guy says. “We don’t use it as much as we thought we would.”

The Vidals often eat dinner outside at a vintage marble table that’s “very, very heavy,” Guy says. The bench seat was hand made from tree branches by a local carpenter.

After trying several times to have real sod and wasting a lot of money, grass, landscaping materials and water, the Vidals installed artificial turf. “It looks real [and] feels good to lay on,” Guy says. “You can wash it by spraying it down. It drains really well. We’re very happy with it.”

A front deck overlooks the Silver Lake reservoir, the body of water that convinced the Vidals to buy this house.

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