This is the first house I designed with Live Home 3D. It was designed to help with continuity for a series of books I’ve been writing during the Covid-19 pandemic. This house belongs to the lead character who just so happens to be a photographer. Write about what you know,they say.
The story takes place in Southern California and this house is based on a lot and home I found cruising Google Earth. I was looking for an oceanside home with a circular driveway and found exactly what I was looking for in Palos Verdes Estates.
In the story, the character had spent some time living in Japan, and so he has remodeled his California ranch house to include many influences from the Japanese architecture he fell in love with.
I just recently revisited this file I completed earlier this year as one of the major upgrades in Live Home 3D has been terrain mapping. I wanted to sit the house up on a bluff as it does in real life. It ended up being a relatively painless process to change the elevation of the house to 164 feet and add a coastline. The upgrade also made it much easier to create garden paths, so I redid those as well.
Let’s start our tour at the front gate. The lot is very private with 10ft hedges protecting the privacy from three sides. At the front gate there is a security keypad. We know the code so we can head on in.
Past the gate we drive down the oak lined driveway and get our first view of the house. Since I didn’t design this house, it is dominated by a four car garage in front. I wish my boxwood hedges looked this neat. Trimming hedges is one skill I haven’t been able to master, even though I’ve had lots of practice.
Further down the driveway we reach the circular area, with a flower bed and fountain in the middle of it.
We’ll pop into the garage first. The first two bays are for his Ferrari and F-150. Of course there’s also the normal garage contents such as garbage cans and a chest freezer, but he also has an antique gas pump. I’ve always loved those.
His girlfriend must be visiting because her Porsche 911 is also parked inside. In the book he owns a 1914 Indian with sidecar, a Ducati 916, and a Triumph Sprint ST (written before I crashed mine). I did find a model for the Ducati, the other two were as close as I could get. Behind the motorcycles, there’s a motorcycle trailer, a motorcycle lift, and a workbench with his woodworking tools. Photographs of his beloved Triumph line the walls.
Passing out the other side of the garage we enter the courtyard. We’ll see more of this later, but for now we’re going to cross over to the front entrance of the house. On the right you’ll notice the shoji screened windows. This is the gallery hallway we’ll be traveling down in just a bit.
The living room provides lots of comfortable seating with three sectional couches around the table. Craftsman and Japanese are the main furniture themes. In this room the ceiling opens up into a partial cathedral ceiling. As typical in a ranch house, there is an open floor plan, with the kitchen and dining room adjacent to the living room.
After entering the home, we’re going to take a u-turn down the gallery hallway. A couple of photos from Bodie are seen in this view.
The hallway runs the entire length of this wing of the house, where there are three bedrooms. The shoji screens provide soft light for viewing his photos which line the opposite side, protecting them from the harsh UV effects of direct sunlight.
Since our resident lives alone in the house, the first bedroom is used as a guest bedroom, as it has a bathroom attached to it. His photos line the walls, with the theme in this room being dancers who have modeled for him. The shoji panels here provide access to the closet.
Next stop down the hall is his office and gym. Some of his favorite black and white photos help decorate this room.
An antique view camera sits in one corner, which he still uses from time to time. In the other corner is his large format Epson printer. In between, a flat panel TV on the wall makes those extended workouts a bit more fun.
His desk features a dual display for doing all that Photoshop work. It also has lots of shelves to display his car and airplane models, as well as more of his antique camera collection. This was the first appearance of the cuckoo clock which was a nod to Grandma and Grandpa Key. A favorite childhood memory was seeing their clock in action, and this model has made it’s way into several of the houses we designed. I was thrilled to find models of a Plymouth Superbird, and a P-51 Mustang.
We journey back out into the hall to head down to the third room.
Another guest room, this one had the bathroom added in the room. I’ve always loved glass block walls so I used them to partition the bathroom for a bit of privacy.
Since this room has a bathroom in it, the theme for the photos on the walls is water. Water has always been an interesting subject for my landscape and model photography. The furniture is a mix of periods and styles. One notable piece is the LeCorbusier leather and chrome chaise. First produced in 1929, it still looks very modern.
Our tour of the bedroom wing complete, we return to the dining room, where we find a large dining table that can seat eight. Wintertime photos of Yosemite are displayed on one wall, and three of my favorite model photographs surround the window that looks out to the north. The door provides access to the north garden and the BBQ island on the deck.
The French doors leading off of the dining room go into the game room. Being a clever woodworker, he has designed a table with a rotating top. On one side is a four lane slot car track, and displayed here is the other side, a ping pong table. Surrounding the table are workbenches so his buddies can work on their slot cars on race nights. The photos in this room are all of one model, who I worked with for over ten years. They show a chronological progression of the shoots we did.
Coming back out of the game room, we get a view of the kitchen and the counter top and bar stools where a lot of informal meals are taken.
The kitchen is modern, but the owner has built the Craftsman style cabinets himself. Of course there’s a coffee maker on the countertop.
We head outdoors to the north garden where there is a croquet set waiting for us to be used on the expansive lawn. Or we could meander down the path that leads through the wisteria arbor and ends up at an area with two benches strategically placed to watch the action at the bird feeder.
It’s such a nice day though instead we’re going to BBQ some hamburgers for lunch and enjoy them at the park benches on the deck. It’s poppy season by the looks of it.
If we were in a hang-glider, this is the view we’d have of the house. When I checked the elevation in Google Earth for the house I was using as inspiration, I was surprised to see it sat up this high.
If our hang-glide catches an updrift, we get an even better view of the house and gardens. In reality, and in my book, there are houses to the left and behind it, on the other side of the road. But the area on the right is open and has a trail that goes from the street and provides access to the beach below.
We’ve enjoyed the views out of our own sunroom, so it seemed a logical thing to stick on the side of the house where the view is. It’s home to some Asian furniture, another LeCorbusier chaise, and a multi-level cathouse so that cats can enjoy the view too.
To our left is the tea room, which we’ll come back to. For now we’re going to visit his awesome home theater. Above the doors is a video monitor he can use to announce what’s playing that evening. We already have our tickets, so let’s go on in.
Any proper theater has a snack bar, but his just happens to be an old saloon bar. Stocked with drinks and candy, and root beer on tap, there’s also an antique popcorn machine to complete your snack order. After buying an antique barbershop cabinet and barber’s chair for our home in San Jose, it was always a dream to have a barbershop themed home theater. So while the front row of seating gets comfy modern theater seats complete with cup holders, the back row gets to lean back and watch the movie in the comfort of Victorian barberchairs. Fortunately they can pump the handle to raise them up so they have a nice view over the heads of the front row.
You may have noticed the movie posters on the wall as you came in. Those are from some of his favorite movies. On the opposite wall, is a collection of LP covers from some of his favorite albums. Even though CDs and then iTunes took over, the old album covers are still enjoyed.
Flanking the 100″ flat panel are two antique cabinets for storing CDs and DVDs. Spinning barbershop poles add to the ambience when the movies aren’t playing. A pair of subwoofers makes sure The Matrix can be watched in all it’s glory.
The movie over, it’s time to wind down and relax in the tea room. This room took a lot of research to create, and it’s bigger than most Japanese tea rooms. On the left is the tokonoma, where you display your most treasured pieces of artwork. The floor is covered with tatami mats laid in a non-traditional manner to fit the room dimensions. Typically, Japanese rooms are designed around the dimensions of a number of tatami mats.
The tansu step cabinet displays his collection of Asian pottery, and the walls are decorated with traditional Japanese artwork he collected during his stay in Japan. Both outside the entrance and in the room, antique kimonos are displayed on racks.
Crossing through the tea room and exiting out the other set of shoji doors, we arrive back in the courtyard. A red arched bridge invites us to gaze at the koi in the pond below.
The torii gate was positioned to elegantly frame the views from either side. Here we see a nice gazing ball and behind, a teak bench flanked by a pair of potted bamboos. I could use a sit at this point so let’s go make use of that bench.
From the bench we can see the pool and hot tub. A lot of great parties happen out here, and there’s also a portable BBQ for having poolside food.
We head out the gate to the south garden where we find a horseshoe pit and a bocce court.
At the southwest corner of the garden there is a Japanese temple inspired gazebo. Oh, it looks like we found where his girlfriend likes to hang out.
Next to the gazebo is a fire pit. We’ve really enjoyed having a fire pit in our yard, so it’s another item that made it’s way into several of the houses we have designed so far.
Heading back to the house, we find a couple of hammocks. Great place to take an afternoon nap, listening to the crashing surf below.
We enter the living room from the deck, and pass another tantu cabinet. When they’re not surveying the gulls from their perch in the sunroom, the cats can often be found sleeping on the top step. According to Lori, you can never have enough books, so the living room gets a large antique lawyers bookcase.
The master bedroom is upstairs, reached through a short hallway. Keys and hats are conveniently left on the small shelf. Bristlecone photos are from the White Mountains.
From the top of the stairs, we see that the master bedroom provides a 180 degree view of the ocean. The bathroom is reached through the Japanese screened pocket door. Behind the bathroom is a large walk-in closet.
I found a Japanese temple inspired bed online that I really liked and tried to use SketchUp to model. It was a dismal failure so I found this similar bed in the 3D Warehouse. Yet another LeCorbusier chaise upstairs. Hmm, he seems to have a penchant for those doesn’t he? A wood stove keeps the room toasty on chilly winter evenings.
With Live Home 3D you can paint surfaces with a number of materials, including mirrors. So just outside of the bathroom is a full length mirror so he can make sure he looks his best before heading downstairs. The Japanese artwork was collected online.
Well that’s it for this home tour. We hope you enjoyed your look at this multi-million dollar home on the coast in Palos Verdes Estates.