Worth the Wait


A half-century after falling in love with the Peninsula, a Rolling Hills resident and his wife finally get the ranch they wished for.

A childhood aspiration for Dave Dennee became a reality in 2009 when he and his wife, Maggie, purchased a ranch-style home in the gated community of Rolling Hills on the Palos Verdes Peninsula. “Ever since I was a kid, I dreamed about living in Rolling Hills,” says Dave. “My parents bought five acres here in the 1950s when we were living in Inglewood, and they had plans drawn up to build a house. But my dad died before it was built, and my mother sold the land with the plans for $25,000, and it was built by someone else.”

While long-time South Bay residents Dave and Maggie were happily living in Redondo Beach near their Riviera Village furniture store, two of the Dennees’ three daughters, Monique and Michelle, were residing in Rolling Hills with their families when a property across the canyon from them went on the market. “We weren’t planning on moving until the girls saw the house,” shares Maggie. “We looked at it and loved its great ‘bones’ and the wonderful, natural light in every room.”

As they began redesigning their new home, a conflict arose. Dave, whose passion for everything cowboy goes back to the days when his father played in a band with Roy Rogers, preferred a western ranch design. Maggie, who is originally from Pasadena, had her heart set on her love of old-world design and recreating some of the beach home they were leaving behind. The couple, who will soon celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, agreed to merge their two distinctly different styles and design visions.

A sign that reads “Worth the Wait Ranch” now greets guests, and the casually meticulous grounds are so delightful that going inside is almost an afterthought. An old water pump and trough serve as a fountain below a hilltop-perched barn that will soon be converted to showcase Dave’s western art and memorabilia collection. A playhouse for their grandchildren—modeled after an estate—is a startling contrast to the adjacent old barn—a salute to the merging of an American cowboy lifestyle with traditional classic design that is repeated inside the home.
Upon stepping through the front door, the Dennees’ quaint, three-bedroom, single-story home reflects the welcoming warmth that is synonymous with their family name. Other than creating a pass-through in a kitchen wall and opening ceilings in the great room and guest room, the project was mostly restorative and decorative. “We prefer intimate rooms versus wide open spaces indoors and enjoy wide open spaces outdoors,” says Dave.

Architectural enhancements included new wood moldings, new windows and the installation of beautiful Lunada wood floors. The cozy, galley-style kitchen was fully remodeled, and the bathrooms were updated. Custom cabinetry was handmade by their son-in-law Kevin Murphy and includes refrigerator panels that mimic an old-fashioned icebox.

An eclectic, rich blend of furnishings and artifacts includes family keepsakes, collectibles and merchandise from their store’s various vendors, and warm beige-and-ocean-green painted walls make for a soothing backdrop. There is a wonderful balance of old and new that shares a common thread of fine craftsmanship.

An antique family bench that arrived in California by covered wagon flanks the entryway as homage to the Old West. Dining chairs hand-carved in Los Angeles complement a handmade dining table, as light plays in the rock crystals of a custom iron chandelier above. Throughout the home, inviting seating, handmade lush rugs and soft leathers are layered with elegant, traditional, patterned fabrics along with random, contemporary surprises—such as purple leopard chenille.

Maggie’s favorite room is the cheerfully bright sunroom that was designed around a beach painting found in Palm Springs that reminds them of their three girls. French doors open to Dave’s favorite “room”—the outdoors, which includes a rambling manicured yard, beautiful gardens, a pool, fireplace and an often-used outdoor entertainment room.

When asked how he knew that he found the right house after his decades-long wait to live in Rolling Hills, Dave responds with a smile. “The house picked us, because of the proximity to our kids. When we can stand in our driveway and look across the canyon and see seven grandchildren, it just doesn’t get better than that.”

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