With style and purpose, A Palos Verdes family stages a barn revival like no other.
- Written byDiane E.
Thirty years ago when equestrian Carole Hoffman and her late husband, radiologist Dr. Richard Hoffman, were living in Rolling Hills with their children, Rex and Heidi, Carole found a neglected, rundown property nearby that she fell in love with.
“I saw the barn, the land and the magnificent view, and I knew that it had great potential. When I showed it to Dick he also loved it, and I felt like the luckiest person in the world. My dream of building my own dressage paradise was about to come true,” says Carole.
George Sweeney, architect
|Rick Marshall, West Construction and Design|
The Hoffmans purchased the 1940s-era, ranch-style house and brought Palos Verdes architect George Sweeney and general contractor Rick Marshall of West Construction and Design onboard for the renovation. Unlike most remodeling projects that usually begin with the residence, the Hoffman multi-phase project started with the barn and riding arena—not surprising given that Carole cofounded the Palos Verdes Chapter of the California Dressage Society and was long-listed for the U.S. dressage Olympic team in the ‘80s.
The Hoffman home is filled with antiques and treasures, many Carole collected in Germany with her late husband, Dr. Richard Hoffman.
Carole’s great attention to detail coupled with Dick’s admiration for her passion guided the redesign of the large, historic barn and installation of the Olympic-size regulation dressage arena, complete with a sound system, bougainvillea-draped judges box and viewing gazebo. A dirt access road was added, and a stepped pathway was carved into the fruit tree-adorned hillside behind the barn leading to the family residence, which is perched atop the three-acre property.
After the equestrian phase of the project was completed, the transformation of the house began in 1985, with Carole and her design vision at the helm. The original old-English cottage feel was carefully retained when 2,000 square feet of living space was added, ceilings were raised and finished with trussed beams (a hallmark of George Sweeney designs, according to Carole), and skylights were added to wash the home with natural light. The kitchen and the library were remodeled first, followed by the dining room, master suite and family room.
As visitors step through the entryway onto restored original oak floors, they are greeted by an authentic American carousel horse suspended from the ceiling—one of many cherished horse collectibles from Carole and Dick’s travels, artfully displayed in every room. Other collectibles as notable as the horses are a vast array of clocks and Bavarian furniture, which pay homage to Dick’s medical career and their life abroad in Germany in the 1960s.
“After completing his radiology residency,” Carole explains, “Dick fulfilled his military obligation in the U.S. Army’s largest European hospital in West Germany, where he created their heart catheterization laboratory. Most of our many antique grandfather and wall clocks are from Heidelberg, Berlin and Wiesbaden, and the wood carved furniture is from Oberammergau, Germany.”
The crisp, blue-and-white barn color scheme was repeated in the kitchen with Walker Zanger tile finds, including an unexpected bold splash of vinyl floor tiles in a checked pattern that added cushiony comfort while visually breaking up the monochromatic alder wood cabinetry. Trompe l’oeil art (“fools the eye”) was whimsically painted by artist Roger Wood onto woodwork and walls to playfully beckon second glances.
Convex glass from a guesthouse in Germany was inserted into kitchen cabinet doors, blending old-world interest with new construction. “It was always an adventure working with Carole. She came up with great ideas, and we built them—such as the brick chimney that disguises the commercial cooktop exhaust hood and designing the library around an antique bar from Germany,” says Rick.
Typical in California architecture and design is bringing the “outside in” to living spaces. Carole considered fabulous views, sunshine and lush gardens with this in mind, but she creatively took it a step further and brought the barn inside too.
One of the faux painted wood walls in their grandson’s room boasts a blue-and-white barn door that duplicates those in the tack room. Rocks from the arena construction were repurposed and used to build the family room fireplace, and a table in the room is made of wood from an old barn fence.
With her adoration for flowers as another design inspiration, Carole blended antiques, collectibles and traditional furnishings while creating a warm and inviting French country decor. “I love flowers and being surrounded by them,” she says.
To complement the Bavarian hand-painted furnishings from Germany, artist Maria Bliss painted floral designs on the dining room floor and family room ceiling beams. Carole also selected Ralph Lauren wallpaper and fabrics that were in keeping with the floral motif for the upholstered furniture and finishing touches.
Still feeling like the luckiest person in the world today, Carole reflects with great pride on the life and the home she and Dick created together for their family. When asked which is her favorite room in the house, she answers with a smile, “The barn, of course.”