Not many architecture firms are bonafide one-stop shops. You’re more likely to find outfits that focus instead on a single aspect of a home’s design or construction, its interiors, or its landscaping.
But in the case of Marmol Radziner, a design-build practice with offices in Los Angeles and San Francisco, that’s exactly the 360-degree experience they offer their clients. And Marmol Radziner COO Todd Jerry and his family would know—their home in Mar Vista, a Los Angeles neighborhood a stone’s throw from the Pacific, embodies the firm’s ethos.
“What’s unique about our company is we’re vertically integrated; so we do architecture and construction, but we self perform a lot of that work,” says Jerry. From the architecture to the construction, the landscaping to the cabinetry and interiors, Marmol Radziner was involved in every step of the design process of his family’s home.
Jerry and his wife, Ing Lee, have lived in Mar Vista since 2002, where they’ve owned two homes that involved more restoration than construction. In fact, Jerry’s introduction to Marmol Radziner was when he was renovating his first home, a house designed by Gregory Ain, and the company did their new kitchen cabinets. He subsequently started working with them, joining the firm in 2008. After another home renovation, also in Mar Vista, the couple’s two children were growing and they felt it was time to think bigger.
“As our family grew, we kind of outgrew each project,” Jerry says. “We arrived at this [one] when we needed more space.”
When they saw their current home’s hilltop site, they loved the way the lot provides an ocean view, and that it was slightly larger than others in Mar Vista. But they didn’t love the house that was on it. After purchasing the property in spring 2015, they took down the existing structure to make way for a brand-new Marmol Radziner design.
“My wife and I worked closely with [Marmol Radziner], going through the process, describing our needs, and developing the program and design,” Jerry says. “I was probably more involved than, you know, your typical owner,” he adds.
Jerry’s main objective for the home was to have enough space for their children, guests, and visiting parents. They wanted accessible outdoor areas, something Marmol Radziner is particularly equipped to handle, given its expertise creating seamless transitions between indoor and outdoor spaces.
The home’s front facade looks out to the ocean, and in many ways the orientation of its interiors turn conventions on their head to optimize light and sun. This decision “really drove the core shape of the house,” explains Jerry.
A pool could have easily been sited at the rear of the house, but the couple and the design team decided to have it installed at the side of the home to catch the afternoon sun. Similarly, the second-story roof deck, which is surrounded by a green roof, also sits at the front of the house, offering a view toward the water.
In contrast to the ubiquitous bright color palettes seen in many new homes, the family opted for a dark-gray acrylic exterior plaster that, visually, creates a house that nestles into the lot’s lush green landscaping. A front gate of vertically slatted aluminum creates a privacy screen without sacrificing light, and blends in with exuberant native plants like deer grass, sedges, and olive trees, rather than imposing itself or feeling dropped in without consideration.
The path beyond the gate leads to a front door made of American walnut and outfitted with a custom brass pull. The practice’s care with materials is evident throughout the home’s interiors, too, seen in interior touches like custom, built-in walnut cabinets throughout. Marmol Radziner made use of built-ins not only for storage but for more high-use areas of the home, like the kitchen’s custom banquette for informal meals, to the statement master bathroom tub, which is made from Quartzite.
The material palette of the home, Jerry says, is, overall, darker, which helps lend the home an organic, rather than assertively manmade, feel. The main artery through the first floor is flanked by a wall of windows, which brings indoors a sense of being outdoors.
Finishes and furnishings throughout the interiors echo the structure’s earthiness, with concrete floors on the first floor and cocoa-brown mohair-upholstered Milo Bauhgman for Thayer Coggin sofas flanked by custom burled-walnut side tables and a travertine-topped coffee table. Smoked-oak flooring covers the second story, and the master bathroom’s dark-gray porcelain tiles play off the lightness of the shower and soaking tub. White walls and windows—especially those above the kitchen’s banquette—let natural light brighten the space.
Jerry says the driving force for the spaces his family has inhabited has been the family’s evolution—and their love of Mar Vista. And, in a way, their current home’s reliance on nature as a central source of inspiration—whether landscaped or wild and ever changing—is inherently an expression of how time affects our perspective on our surroundings.