Cape Cod and Tudor architectural styles merge harmoniously for a new build in Palos Verdes.

Thad Malit always had an appreciation for Cape Cod architecture and longed for that style home for his family. In 2002, he and his wife, Elaine, found an imperfect home on a perfect lot in Palos Verdes. The cul-de-sac location and picturesque view captured their imaginations while their sights were set on building the home of their dreams.

They moved into the existing house with their two young daughters and spent four years compiling a file with photos and design ideas, including inspiration by houses on John Street in Manhattan Beach. They also selected Palos Verdes-based architect Russ Barto to design their new home and help them navigate the building department and art jury.

“We chose Russ, because he was not only a good personality fit but also because of his great relationship and track record with the city of Palos Verdes Estates,” says Thad. “We gave him a folder with houses that we liked, and he quickly came back to us with exactly what  we wanted.”  

The clean lines of traditional Cape Cod homes, matched with the dramatic variation in roof pitches typical of Tudor-style homes, topped the Malits’ exterior wish list. To accomplish this, space typically used inside for heating and air conditioning was traded for varied ceiling heights. Air conditioning was eliminated, and radiant heat floors were planned, with the equipment located in a finished basement—another must-have for the Malits.

“Thad and Elaine had a strong vision for their new home,” says Russ Barto. “My task was first to understand that vision and then translate it onto paper—then ultimately into bricks and mortar. The design for their home was well-received by the art jury and the neighbors, despite being different than anything in the neighborhood at the time.”

After the plans were approved in 2006, the Malits moved in with nearby family. The original house was torn down and construction began—awakening childhood memories for Thad. “When I was 8 years old, my father bought an empty lot in Rancho Palos Verdes to build a house,” he shares. “I went every weekend when it was being built. He also collected antiques for the house, so family vacations included stops at antique stores.”

To complete the creative team, the Malits hired South Bay interior designer Phil Norman of Phil Norman Interior Design Group. “There were so many choices from start to finish. Phil put us in contact with places we would not have known about, and he really narrowed everything down for us,” says Thad.

Nineteen months after construction began, the Malits’ new home, which pleasingly charms the typically Spanish-style neighborhood with East Coast tradition, was finished. Grey-stained shingles finish the exterior walls beneath a slate roof, and select diamond-shaped, leaded-glass windows complement the architectural design.

With a hint of San Diego’s famed Hotel del Coronado, a turret that houses Thad’s office captures the eye and softens the sharp angles of the roof. “It was designed with windows all around, so I could see my kids playing outside,” says Thad.

On the inside, a peaceful color palette of soft linens and buttery creams contrast with dark woods and white painted surfaces. Espresso-stained, white oak wood floors with tile inlays at the entry define the space, as wide, distressed floor planks extend throughout the home in dramatic contrast to white millwork.

“The detailing for the cabinetry, staircase, wainscoting and coffered ceilings were in keeping with Thad’s and Elaine’s desire for a more formal feel,” says Phil Norman. Opposite the front door is a secret door to the basement that is faced with beautiful custom cabinetry to create a more inviting entry by not walking through one door to look at another.

The Malits spend most of their time down the hall from the front entry in the inviting, open kitchen and family room—where walnut beams balance the dark wood floors. “I designed a chef-style kitchen accented with a black Viking range for dramatic contrast,” says Phil. “The commercial feel of the glass-front Viking refrigerator was also selected because of its professional feel.”

Polished Calcutta stone countertops with a custom edge detail and a soapstone-surfaced island are finished with a Verde Luna marble backsplash and harlequin detailing.  Beveled glass-front cabinetry with polished nickel hardware, exposed hinges and a walnut butcher block set into the soapstone complete the design.

In keeping with the classic elegance throughout the home, the master bath boasts Sahara Beige polished marble and cream-colored limestone from Walker Zanger, with a mosaic backsplash to add interest and texture. The cabinetry was designed with inset-exposed face frame doors and deep drawers. Polished nickel Water Works fixtures and graceful sloped sconces with asymmetrical shades add finishing touches.

The powder room repeats the formal, masculine, library feel of Thad’s office. Smokey taupe grass cloth covers the walls above warm, beige, limestone wainscoting finished with rich tile embellishments. An oval mirror softens the edges of the angular sconces installed higher than usual, so they would not compete with the mirror.

For a family that loves to entertain, the Malits’ East Coast-influenced South Bay home is perfect for their active community lifestyle. With regular charity meetings, Indian Princess and Girl Scout gatherings, and softball meetings, the door is often found open to family and friends. •


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