Raising the Roof

A Rolling Hills family of five expands their living potential with an ambitious renovation.

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  • Written by
    Diane E.

Location. Location. Location. Before John and Laurie Ayoob moved with their three children from South Redondo to Rolling Hills Estates in 1998, John was taking the long way home from work via the Palos Verdes Peninsula in search of a perfect property for the family. 

They set their sites on one neighborhood in particular, and their quest subsequently included sending letters to homeowners in an attempt to reach potential sellers. Optimistic persistence for more than one year yielded a “for sale” sign at their current California ranch-style home.

Though the Ayoobs were delighted with their purchase, a remodel was unquestionably imminent. Built in the ‘50s, the chopped-up floor plan and low ceilings were dated and not compatible with their active family lifestyle. 

Newly partnered architects Miles Pritzkat and Keith Johnson were soon on board. After plans were approved and construction commenced with South Bay general contractor Jack Nelson, all that remained of the original design were the fireplace and the dining room bay window.

The main ceiling was vaulted from eight feet to 17 feet high, and the master bedroom ceiling was raised to 13 feet to create more inviting and open living spaces. Joined by a two-story catwalk that looks down into the newly created great room, two dormer rooms (an office and a hang-out room for the kids called the “barn room”) were added to break up an otherwise all-horizontal feel of the interior. 

“From a plan standpoint, the great room links both the kitchen and the outdoors with indoor family activities and unifies the core of the home both functionally and architecturally,” says Miles. “The mezzanine was a means to emphasize the new vertical volume and to pull light in from both the front and the rear of the house. The staircase’s picketed railing visually draws attention to the higher elements of the room by tracing the path of the stairs along the length of the walkway, culminating in the two-story hearth/fireplace.” 

According to Miles’ partner Keith, some of the key features in the new design were done ahead of their time. “We designed a trench drain in the bathroom shower and put a sliding barn door in the loft room upstairs, which seems to be done a lot lately. Lighting controls were also installed, which was relatively new back then.” 

Bringing the outdoors in was important to the family. Before window companies were offering their own glass bi-fold exterior door systems as they do today, custom doors were made for the project. Marvin window panels were shipped to the site, and folding hardware was purchased and added to them. 

“John had the idea for the doors that open out to the patio and worked with the window company to make them. They accordion-open all the way on both sides—connecting the whole patio to the house like another room, which is really great in the summer,” says Laurie. 

Interior designer Suzy Moore of Fowler & Moore in Redondo Beach was consulted for materials, finishes and lighting. “I know what I like, but I can’t visualize it on my own, which is why we hired Suzy,” Laurie says. 

Clear-coated, beautiful black walnut floors were installed throughout the home. The heart of the kitchen boasts an Italian Carrara marble-topped island, which is unusually complemented by deep green (almost black) soapstone on the perimeter countertops for its durability qualities. 

The Craftsman-inspired kitchen cabinetry crafted by Classic Woodworks in Gardena houses Fisher & Paykel dishwasher drawers and Thermador appliances. John and Laurie liked the Roman Colosseum-inspired Carrara marble so much in the kitchen that it was repeated in the master bathroom in a bricked tile pattern on the walls and a mosaic pattern on the shower floor. 

With a creative eye for design of his own, John masterminded the whimsical yet practical pool bathroom in celebration of the family’s collective passion for the ocean and watersports. All three kids (son, Mike, and twin daughters, Dana and Kari) played water polo. John is a self-proclaimed wannabe surfer, and Laurie is a former All-American swimmer. 

With a local Torrance beach shower as his inspiration, the surfboard countertop was specially made by a surfboard shaper in Malibu, a foot shower was added and a reclaimed Thermador wall heater was installed—extra touches that exemplify the “life at the beach” feeling of the room. 

After 18 months of planning, designing and construction, the Ayoob home was ready for furniture installation and the finishing touches. Lucas Design Studio in West 

Hollywood created a comfortable and relaxed living ambience—selecting, purchasing and installing all furnishings (everything except the paint on the walls, accord-ing to Laurie).

A close collaboration of the owners, architects, contractors, subcontractors and designers on the entire project was key to achieving the timeless design that the Ayoobs are still enjoying today. “Those team-effort elements in our house are our favorites,” says John.



Pritzkat and Johnson Architects
Jack Nelson, General Contractor
Suzy Moore, Fowler & Moore
Lucas Design Studios




Surfboard towel rack $59 

MarkerSix on Etsy, etsy.com

Rattan wicker bar stools (pair) $72 


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