Dreaming in Spanish

Inspired by original 1920s homes on the Peninsula, Catherine and Doug Carlisle-Roven leveled a 1955 tract home in the Hollywood Riviera to make room for an entertaining family haven.


"My parents built their home here in 1948. When I was growing up, I always admired the beautiful, old Spanish architecture in the area,” says Catherine Carlisle-Roven of the Hollywood Riviera neighborhood she’s lived in most of her life.

The Carlisle-Rovens resided at their own aging property for 10 years with their two boys, Jordan and Trevor, when they finally decided they had outgrown it and required a major update.

They hired Redondo Beach-based architect Doug Leach in 1996 for what was intended to be an addition and remodeling project.

When the original architectural drawings were not approved by the city due to neighborhood compatibility concerns, Doug went back to the drafting table and designed a completely new home. Guided by maximizing the ocean view and the Carlisle-Rovens' Spanish design vision—which included numerous arches and niches, open spaces with a great flow (inside and out) and a lot of natural light—the new plans included demolition of the existing structure and soil re-grading to reduce the property height.

After the city approved the revised project, Matt Kroha of TriSam Development in Torrance was selected to build the house. Along with his general contracting expertise, he brought his personal passion for Spanish architecture to the project. According to Doug, they made a good contractor choice.

“We have stayed friends, which says a lot after going through a year-long construction project of this quality and magnitude,” he says. “Matt is unlike what most people perceive as your ‘typical’ general contractor. He has an artistic eye, which is helpful in the full swing of construction when changes are made on the fly. We also completed the home close to our budget—even with a number of changes.”

The hand-carved entry door from Mexico complements the stucco-and-clay tiled roof exterior and sets the stage for the harmoniously eclectic interior that boasts three bedrooms, four bathrooms, a hexagon crow’s nest-style upper room with a sundeck, and a basement family room and wine cellar. A special outdoor architectural feature is Doug’s favorite living space.

“It is our open air fire pit fountain ‘room,’ which is in a sunken area where the ocean view is the best,” says Doug. “It is a half-moon-shaped mini-amphitheater where we spend evenings talking, relaxing and listening to music after a long day.”

French doors and large windows fill the home with the desired abundance of natural light. Hand-forged wrought iron interior and exterior architectural detailing create old-world visual interest. Red oak wood floors complement the Saltillo floor tiles that Matt purchased in Mexico, and exposed wood beams richly contrast crisp, white ceilings and walls and bold accent colors.






The decorative tiles were made in Mexico, Oregon and Portugal and include some great finds from Classic Tile in Hermosa Beach. Rustic, hand-painted custom cabinetry throughout the house balances and softens the stone, tile, glass and iron materials.

Catherine’s natural artistic talent rounded out the team when she took the interior design lead. The rich, warm color palette, furnishings and finishes she selected were inspired by Spanish architecture and complemented by compatible Southwestern U.S., Mexican, Portuguese, Italian, Central American and South American design elements.  

Furnishings include family heirlooms mixed with other antiques (including a Steinway piano) and new pieces from various sources, including Dennee’s Distinctive Furnishings in the Riviera Village and Arte de Mexico in North Hollywood. Collectibles and artifacts from the U.S. and abroad include hand-crafted kachina dolls, rugs, pottery, tapestries, religious crosses, masks and wood-carved statues. But the Carlisle-Rovens’ favorite art pieces that adorn their walls are by their illustrator son, Jordan, and childhood art created by both of their sons.

“When I think about building our house, what comes to mind is how much we enjoyed it,” shares Catherine. “I sometimes hear people talk about how horrible the experience was for them, but we loved it.”