Bold and Beautiful

A life change spurs a Fryman Canyon Mediterranean renovation—filled with bursts of color and personal treasures.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Suzanna Cullen Hamilton

Hot pink cowhide rugs on a glossy, black ebony floor surrounded by white plaster walls and mid-century European art send a clear message that the home of Gail Becker is one layered with fascinating objects created by equally
interesting people.

Gail purchased the home 15 years ago but didn’t renovate until last year. It had been a conglomeration of styles and periods, all of which worked for a busy family of four. Then, life changed.

“I think homes should reflect the owner’s personality, and it was time for me to make this house mine,” Gail explains of her decision to renovate after getting a divorce.

Starting with the bones of the house, all the paint was scraped off the brick floors to create a worn Mediterranean feel. Dramatic, dark floors were installed in the living and dining rooms, providing a marked contrast to the hand-plastered, clean, white walls. An exquisite, hand-forged iron handrail snakes down the stairwell—offering a delicate shape foiled by a formidable material.

For expertise, Gail hired her good friend, Valley-based designer Cari Berg. “My first thought was that this house could use some ethnic flair,” Cari says. She zeroed in on the living room, purchasing two pink (vegetable dyed) hyde rugs. “I’d been dying to do a hot pink hide rug for some time. It just felt right here. I did have to talk Gail into it at first,” she laughs.

“Now, I love the rugs,” Gail chimes in, adding “when you have a friend as your designer, I think it is easier to trust her judgment. I couldn’t have hired anyone but Cari to this.”

Cari helped Gail pare down the living and dining rooms and find a way to integrate a rich collection of pieces both inherited and newly purchased. Simple but elegant opposing sofas create a sophisticated seating area, while a black grand piano that her son plays floats in front of a massive window looking out onto the verdant garden. It is a space open enough for entertaining but inviting enough for intimate conversation.

Gail, a senior global executive at Edelman, explains that her “home is made up from all of the people in my life and the objects they’ve left or created for me.” On a business trip to New York, Gail stopped in the showroom of New York antique dealer Liza Sherman. Having seen the fabulous, Sherman-designed chandelier in the home of actress Sarah Jessica Parker in a magazine spread, Gail hoped to find a similar one for her own home.

“I think homes should reflect the owner’s personality, and it was time for me to make this house mine.”

The chandeliers in Sherman’s showroom were too small for Gail’s home. So in true designer style, Sherman sold Gail the one from her own home–which, it turns out, was the exact one Gail had seen in the home of Parker. Now the fabulous, huge, turquoise glass chandelier hangs in the foyer, sending a magical, blue light at night.  

 

Although deceased, Gail’s mother is very present in her home. Her mom was an artist, and her paintings, as well as those of her contemporaries of the ‘60s and ‘70s, line Gail’s walls. Gail’s kitchen was renovated after her mother’s death as both a tribute to and a gift from her mother.  

“My mother was a great cook, artist and interior designer, and our house was filled with rich experiences. When she died and left a little nest egg for me, I remodeled my kitchen to remind me of the one I grew up in. I call it ‘my mother’s kitchen,’” notes Gail.  

From that kitchen, the newly remodeled family room opens, continuing the burst of color and light found in other parts of the house. “Color makes me happy,” said Gail, and the rich, cerulean blues and bright yellows echo the Mediterranean flavor of the home.

Gail’s children’s rooms are enormously creative, featuring murals of the outdoors and sports. A chandelier made from a bucket of tennis balls from IKEA hangs from the ceiling, while a green painted floor is reminiscent of a grass tennis court. Nestled high among the trees, the bedrooms are filled with light and the peace of nature.

The back of the house spills out into a succulent garden with a private pool. Trees and plants surround the house, insulating it both from noise and pedestrian views. The white adobe house with bright blue trim might be located in busy Studio City, but it feels like it’s perched in the Mediterranean countryside.  

“I’m never leaving this house; it’s the most secure, comfortable place I know, and I love it,” smiles Gail, a content homeowner in the space she now can truly call home.

 

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