Green Acres

Huge sage bushes spill from the garden into the driveway, while kumquat and olive trees dance under the canopy of a massive eucalyptus tree. Grape vines fill in the trellis, and Swiss chard grows in abundance.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Suzanna Cullen Hamilton

Huge sage bushes spill from the garden into the driveway, while kumquat and olive trees dance under the canopy of a massive eucalyptus tree. Grape vines fill in the trellis, and Swiss chard grows in abundance. For well-known environmental advocate Christiana Wyly, the garden that welcomes visitors as they pull into the driveway is the first hint at what lies ahead: a fully sustainable, green compound tucked in Topanga Canyon. 

Christiana, a venture capital partner and environmental advisor to Sartori Capital and a contributor to The Huffington Post, first got exposed to Topanga Canyon while attending boarding school in Switzerland. She befriended a fellow student from Topanga Canyon and visited the area. Years later, while living in LA, Christiana “wanted to be away from the exhaust and noise of the city,” and she remembered Topanga Canyon. She was smitten when she found the 1977 Craftsman house on 21 acres.  

After purchasing the property in 2005, Christiana decided to completely renovate it into a sustainable, green home in 2009. “I realized that the issue was two-fold. First, I wanted to create a healthy lifestyle for myself. And second, I realized the ripple effect each of us has in the world,” she shares.

Because of strict building codes in Topanga Canyon, the original footprint of the house was not altered. Christiana also didn’t want to change the character of the Craftsman vernacular, because she liked its durability.

Today the remodeled home is a remarkable accomplishment in every capacity. A bank of solar panels provides electricity, while a well provides water. A bio-diesel pump was installed so Christiana could drive her diesel car from the canyon into the city with ease. 

All of the paint used on the home is non-toxic, to avoid “the VOCs we come in contact with every day,” Christiana explains.

Recycled blue jeans provide insulation, and all the lighting is LED-certified. Beautiful wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council is used throughout the house, and durable Trex floors—made from recycled materials—are used on outside porches.

The eco-friendly interior design store Epoxy Green in Venice was the source for the interior finishes and appliances. The furniture is a blend. Antiques were culled from local shops and are mixed with new pieces from the green living website  

As impressive as the main house is, two of the most spectacular achievements are found outside. The swimming pool chlorine system was replaced with a non-chemical, oxygen ozone purification system. With effects similar to a hyperbolic chamber, the warm water feels rich, soft and creamy.

However, it is Christiana’s amazing tree house that is both the literal and physical pinnacle of the property.  Believing that “our bodies are designed to live with trees,” Christiana commissioned famed tree house designer Roderick Romero to create the Moroccan, lantern-shaped structure in a huge eucalyptus. Perched high in the branches, the top and bottom of the tree house are made from copper, while salvaged redwood from olive oil tanks and found eucalyptus branches form the body, stairs and banister. 

It is here that Christiana retreats for writing and yoga. With incredible views, this fairy-tale structure is engaging, clever and substantial: a true representation of its owner.

The original fireplace and beamed ceilings were kept intact, and the home combines both antiques and eco-friendly furnishings.

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