A young family of four merges the lines of an existing property with elements of modern design to create their dream home.
Photographed by Lauren Pressey
Hidden off the windy route of Palos Verdes Drive in Rancho Palos Verdes is a 1.4-acre lot with stunning panoramic views and a little piece of history restored to meet the needs of today’s modern family. “This whole area used to be a ranch,” explains Kave Niksefat, “and this house was originally the ranch house.”
Kave and his wife, Betsy, bought the property from its second owner in 2011. Originally built in 1951, the home hadn’t been updated since then. The landscape was heavily overgrown, and there were many upgrades needed. But the Niksefats were game to take on the project.
“We liked the original house,” says Betsy. “It was very livable. We knew we didn’t want to keep it as-is for the long term, but we liked the structure and the bones of the house.”
The major selling point, however, was the view. From the moment you turn off the main road, head past the gate and down the private drive, there’s a sense you’re tucked away, hidden among the hills. However, it’s not until you walk through the house and gaze from the multitude of windows lining the home that you see the expansive views the property has to offer. “This is why we bought the house,” Kave notes.
As part of the remodel, which began in May 2014 and ended in April 2015, the Niksefats went to work on both the interior and the exterior of the home. “We fenced in everything and redid the landscaping,” Kave notes. Out went the overgrown foliage—a mix of tropical plants and native landscaping taking its place.
Helping the Niksefats realize the outdoor vision for their property was landscape architect Jamie Schwentker of Schwentker Watts Design, with additional work by Costa Verde Landscape. The result: unobstructed panoramic views, family-friendly vegetation, charming pathways to stroll along and an expansive haven for the family’s two friendly pups to patrol. Tall hedges in the front of the property lend to the private, tucked-away feel of the home.
Like the yard, the house went through its own transformation. What began as a 1,793-square-foot ranch house has since evolved into a modern yet family-functional, 2,576-square-foot abode. And while they didn’t completely scrape the original home, “we came pretty close,” Kave explains. “We kept a lot of the existing foundation as well as the original roof lines and 50% of the original walls. But the house was stripped down to the studs.”
Pictures of the original property reveal an almost time-capsuled, black-and-white kitchen, heavily dyed red oak floors, and tiny bathrooms that left much to be desired. But there was still a lot of potential in the original framing. “A lot of the shape and feel have stayed the same—just with changes in the surfaces,” Kave notes.
Helping the Niksefats transform their property while maintaining its original charm was architect Kevin Oreck. Kave says, “We chose Kevin based on his history of modernizing older homes while staying true to the historical design of the original building—and for his ability to maximize the utility of relatively small spaces.”
The exterior of the home plays with texture and color, mixing stucco with stone and redwood. With the exception of the bathrooms, the interior flooring is exclusively white oak, juxtaposed with walnut accents on the walls, cabinetry and built-ins. The lines of the home are clean, with mid-century modern décor adding to the elegant sophistication of the space.
The kids’ rooms (Kave and Betsy have two adorable daughters with quite possibly the most gorgeous red hair imaginable) are minimalistic, with deliberate pops of colorful accents and statement pieces. “We’ve been working with Bailey O’Neill of Edit Interiors and Homepolish to assist with our interior design,” Betsy says. Also adding her expert eye to the project was art consultant Jennifer Klos of Collector House Inc.
Connecting the girls’ rooms is a massive Jack-and-Jill bathroom. “They have the biggest bathroom in the house,” Kave says. A bonus room with a full bathroom attached currently serves as a playroom for the girls, though Betsy and Kave could see it evolving into a study room or possibly a guest room in the future.
The master, like all the rooms of the home, boasts incredible views of the property. Vaulted ceilings add to the light-and-airy feel of the room. His-and-her showerheads in the master bath sit under even more incredibly high ceilings, with skylights at the top providing an abundance of natural light.
All of the main living areas of the house feature sliding doors, with windows lining the perimeter walls and peekaboo skylights cleverly placed throughout. It’s no surprise that the kitchen and family room serve as the main hub of the house.
The kitchen, with its large island and ample counter space, is an amateur chef’s dream. The family room, which was originally the home’s formal dining area, faces the kitchen—making for open conversation whether you’re cooking over the stove or lounging on the sofa. “We wanted an area where we could be in the kitchen but still see the kids,” Kave explains.
South Bay residents since 2010, the view wasn’t the only perk that drew Kave and Betsy to Rancho Palos Verdes. “When we purchased the home in 2011, we were expecting our first child,” Kave explains. “We wanted to make sure we purchased in an area with excellent public schools.”
Touring the property with Betsy, Kave and the girls, it’s easy to see how happy they are with the choice they made and the home they’ve built together.
THE COLLABORATORS | KEVIN ORECK, ARCHITECT | BAILEY O’NEILL, EDIT INTERIORS AND HOMEPOLISH | JAMIE SCHWENTKER, SCHWENTKER WATTS DESIGN | COSTA VERDE LANDSCAPE | JENNIFER KLOS, COLLECTOR HOUSE INC.