House on a High Note
- Written bySuzanna Cullen
When David and his wife, Kei, discovered an empty lot in Palos Verdes with an incredible view of Catalina, they knew they wanted to build a home. “I would have been an architect,” says David, but music took him on another, incredibly successful path.
Architect Doug Leach understood that David and Kei wanted a contemporary house with a warm, inviting interior that also had terrific acoustics for home concerts and composing. When Doug and David met at the site, their first priority was to find the perfect location within the lot in order to plan the studio and accommodate a pair of grand pianos.
nitially concerned about the building codes in Palos Verdes, Doug introduced some ideas to give the house historical and architectural relevance yet convey the contemporary feeling that the Benoits desired. Prairie School-style architectural features such as transom windows, overhangs, wood and slate have been incorporated into the modern home. Interior corners are gently rounded with a bull-nose finish that references Spanish architecture and further softens the lines.
In total, it is a clean, open, contemporary space that most subtly incorporates prior historical architectural designs to achieve a warm, inviting interior. “We love to entertain, and this house was designed for both home concerts and dining with friends,” says David.
Upon entering the front door, it’s evident that the house moves much like a musical score: the living room is a few steps lower than the foyer and dining room, while David’s studio is a few feet above it. The purpose of the flow is to “create places for music to flow, because it dies in a big, box-type room,” David explains.
The massive living room with soaring ceilings and a wall of windows facing the sea accommodates two large grand pianos, a drum set and a seating area. Commanding the wall above the concert grand piano is a huge, colorful portrait of the Benoits’ daughter, June.
Beyond the living room is David’s studio, with a remarkable and uninterrupted view of the Pacific. Whether composing, playing or listening, every person seated in the house has a wonderful perspective of the beautiful, natural world outside.
The dining room has a table that can accommodate more than 12 guests, while huge doors open for a seamless transition to the outside living area. A yard, pool and several seating and dining areas are perfect for outdoor entertaining. The kitchen and family room adjoin this area.“It’s where we live,” notes David.
“I’m so busy and I travel frequently, so I always eat out in restaurants,” he says. “The last thing I want to do when I get back home is go out to eat. We want to have our friends over and relax and enjoy the house.”
His albums Full Circle and Conversation rank at the top of the charts, but those words also perfectly describe David Benoit’s home life. It seems that the Mira Costa graduate has come full circle to raising his own family in the South Bay and enjoying rich conversations while entertaining at home.
A taste of Modern Mexico.
Mr. Sexton took me to dinner at Joe’s on Abbott Kinney for my birthday some years ago, back when we were first dating. At that time, I was still in what my friend Adam memorably called my “faux-heiress stage” (when one pretends one has a trust fund when one, uh, decidedly does not).