- Written bySuzanna Cullen
It is always evident when someone has lived abroad, though it’s not the direct influence of the particular place that leaves a lasting impression. Living in any new environment affords the opportunity to develop the confidence to step out of the proverbial box and experience new lifestyles. When Kari and John Boiler had the good fortune to spend five years living in Amsterdam, it was a life-transforming experience for them that they continue to live daily in Manhattan Beach.
From the 1950s classic Cadillac parked at the curb to the vibrant orange front door, it is immediately evident that this is not a family bent on conformity. The Boilers purchased the house in 2002 and began a series of renovations. The kitchen is now streamlined with apple green cabinets and a modernist vibe, while the open dining room is a direct nod to 18th-century Amsterdam, boasting embellished crown molding and an industrial-influenced chandelier.
Incongruous art fills the house but is aesthetically pleasing, due to confident placement by a learned eye. Family photos and drawings grace walls and stairs and reassure that even though this is a highly intellectual wink at various styles and periods of architecture, there is still a happy family in residence.
The third and most recent renovation in 2010 with James Meyer of Lean Arch yielded enormous joy to the Boiler family. For years, the view from the glass-walled dining room was of the huge, two-story wall of the garage. Tired of looking at a blank wall, the Boilers decided to add a vista of constantly changing art to their life by creating a “living wall.” With the expert guidance of landscape designer Rob Jones, a series of felt pockets are hung in a massive grid, creating an abundance of verdant growth tumbling down the once empty wall. Woolly Pockets were trademarked in 2008 and can be used in small spaces, such as an apartment railing or on a massive canvas like the Boiler’s wall.
The living wall has given way to a new lifestyle for the Boilers. Once heavy shrubs blocked the back fence and created a dark entrance from the garage. Now a trim hedge provides privacy but lets daylight into the backyard, while a variety of verdant plants fall gracefully from above. The previously industrial concrete area now feels more private and lush from the insulating plants above.
Playground equipment, a hot tub and a built-in bench help create an outdoor living space that’s used by the whole family. With a balcony off the dining room just large enough to accommodate outdoor dining, the Boilers constantly watch life evolve on their Living Wall.
Kari Boiler was the president of Bugaboo Strollers but recently resigned in order to take time off to be with her children, Charlie and JP. When asked if she missed her busy career, she answers, “I just had the nicest day at home and spent a quiet lunch on the balcony alone watching the Living Wall dance in the sunlight and the breeze. I know my office thinks I’m missing them, but I’m actually loving this peaceful place.”
With her high intelligence and creative drive, it won’t be long before Kari is back in the business world. However, it’s certain that she will work from home with the view of her fabulous living art as long as possible, deriving both inspiration and peace from her tranquil outdoor art.
Hop & circumstance.
There was plenty of love in the air at the 24th annual Valentine Ball, a fundraising gala benefiting the Norris Center for the Performing Arts. This year’s event, “A String of Pearls,” celebrated the 30th anniversary season of the Norris Theatre and honored supporters Chuck and Carol Drexel.