West Indies romance finds a home in Hollywood Riviera
Photographed by Michael Neveux
A friend’s wedding in Hawaii and the fortuitous purchase of a book about historical French island homes put the wheels in motion for the complete redesign of Scott and Gayle Probts’ Hollywood Riviera home.
Gayle, a prominent South Bay realtor, found the house and its gem of a location in 2001. After she and husband, Scott, CEO of a mergers and acquisitions group, resided there for several years and completed a lengthy City and Coastal Commission approval process, builder Dave Buchholz started the 22-month remodeling project in 2007.
The extensive deconstruction phase included removal of the second story and most of the first floor. The existing garage, some front walls and the chimney were all that remained pre-construction.
“The design intention was to set the theme curbside and make you feel like you were being transported to a place on an island,” says Miles Pritzkat of Pritzkat & Johnson Architects in Redondo Beach. And transformed you are arriving at the home, with architectural detailing reminiscent of a French colonial West Indian home on the island of St. Barts, not unlike the ones the couple first admired on the pages of that inspirational book.
The exterior now boasts lush tropical landscaping, Bermuda shutters, a driveway of concrete pavers and grass ribbons, and a teak wood veranda with a Chippendale railing design that is repeated on the garage doors. Gas lantern-style exterior light fixtures crafted in Louisiana and commonly seen in the Bahamas adorn the exterior walls to create a romantic island ambiance.
As you step through the front door, a stunning ocean view and salty-air breezes beckon you. Island elegance merges with family heirlooms, antique architectural elements, a collector’s salute to exotic cars and pet-friendly design considerations.
“French island elegance was the creative vision for the project,” says designer Kelly Miller of Creative Visions. “Bringing the outside in, not to mention the fabulous chevron, wide-plank floors with a hand-hewn feel were integral to the vision. So we started with the disappearing, ocean-facing glass doors and the floors. The rest of the design came together after that.”
The inviting openness of the first floor was designed with intimate gatherings of family and friends in mind. The color palette of rusty reds and rich animal prints was built around Gayle’s favorite color, red, and a pillow that she wanted incorporated into the elegantly eclectic design.
Sisal rugs share floor space with a Persian rug, creating a cozy, layered effect beneath a classic blend of family antiques, new furnishings and accessories that exquisitely complement each other. A beautiful dining table, a dramatic, oversized china cabinet and a vintage Victorian mantle anchor and balance the comfortable living space with a sense of stately grace.
In the kitchen, a hand-painted Indonesian artifact mounted on the ceiling was the design inspiration. The tile, stone and wood tones complement the art piece, and a handcrafted copper roof above the sink is representative of the fine workmanship by local South Bay artisans who were a part of the entire project.
Tucked away near the entry is a cozy den that is the favorite room of the Probsts’ terrier, Maggie. A window seat is accessible to her via steps that were built into the cabinetry so she can keep watch over the neighborhood.
The room, designed around an antique desk that belonged to Scott’s grandmother, is painted charcoal brown to absorb light and create a sense of calm. Perched atop the desk is one of several model ships throughout the home, representing a seafaring sense of freedom and adventure.
Staircase newel posts adorned with carved pineapples aptly pay silent homage to the island- and ocean-loving European explorer Christopher Columbus, who discovered the fruit on a Caribbean voyage. Looking upward as you ascend the wooden stairs (roughed up on one side to ease the trek for four-legged Maggie), Bermuda shutters embellish the walls—further enhancing the home’s lovely island feel.
“We had a meeting and talked about bringing light inside, and then an inspirational moment happened and we brought the shutters inside too,” says architect Keith Johnson.
The romantic master bedroom overlooking the ocean was designed around an oriental rug of blues, yellows and creams, blacks and greys—another cherished family piece. A light-striped pattern on the headboard and coordinating bed linens soften the strong black in the rug, and a hand-painted chair adds the finishing touch.
In stark contrast to the peaceful serenity of island life, Scott, a Ferrari and Formula One motor racing aficionado since childhood, not only added meticulously designed displays of extraordinary automobile collectibles throughout his master suite office, he also has a Formula One racing simulator comfortably “garaged” across the hall in a Ferrari-yellow painted room of its own.
With only the pages of an island living architecture book as inspiration, a talented design and construction team—not to mention Scott’s keen eye for design details—beautifully blends old with new to bring French island elegance and an unexpected auto racing edge to a quiet Hollywood Riviera neighborhood.
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