A Couple Builds their Dream Home in Toluca Lake
A sophisticated, contemporary farmhouse turns out to be the third-time charm for a couple in Toluca Lake.
Written ByHeather David
Photographed ByShane O’Donnell
Burbank natives and high school sweethearts, Tim and Paula Davis, have built three homes in their 47 years of marriage, but their latest project stands apart from the rest.
First, it wasn’t exactly in the cards. The couple were perfectly content in their Burbank home. Plus, going through construction again wasn’t appealing. But Tim, a member of Lakeside Golf Club, and Paula shared a growing affinity for Toluca Lake. And they just couldn’t get the notion of living with a water view out of their heads.
“Tim and I agreed that at this point, the only way we would move is if we found something on the lake. So when our realtor showed us this property in 2011, we said, ‘We’re going to build one more time,’” Paula fondly remembers.
The project turned out to be anything but easy. The original structure, built in 1951, was in total disrepair. “We had to completely demolish the house and reengineer everything down to the foundation,” says Tim. The couple hired Abel Builders and Kay Hicks Design for the building phase. “Kay helped me pick every tile, cabinet and material—painstakingly experimenting with me for the perfect color on the exterior,” recalls Paula.
“It’s not just about one chair or rug, but it’s how everything makes you feel together.”
After two years of construction, the structure was complete—a two-story, contemporary farmhouse featuring ¾-inch, hand-scraped walnut floors throughout.
When it came time for the decor, the couple turned to local interior designer Orit Srour, who lives just a stone’s throw away. Orit, who Paula describes as “an artist,” was instantly inspired by the sprawling 4,800-square-foot space that opens up to sweeping views. Although the architecture is traditional, the duo planned interiors with a contemporary vibe. “We agreed on a chic-meets-comfortable theme that could stand up to large parties and family dinners with their five grandchildren,” shares Orit.
The couple really wanted something impactful to greet visitors. So Orit suggested wallpaper. “The entryway features handmade wallpaper with gold metallic lines that’s meant to be like art. It’s by the dynamic designer Kelly Wearstler,” says Orit.
But the bold look didn’t catch on immediately. “I was scared to do it and Orit gently pushed back. Now I’m absolutely in love with it,” Paula says.
The main living space is also somewhat dramatic—largely due to the use of statement lighting, which Orit refers to as “the jewelry” of the home. “They really wanted to push boundaries with the fixtures. They’re a perfect representation of Paula’s personality—bold, stylish and dramatic,” the designer explains.
Dangling gracefully over the dining table are custom-etched, glass teardrops by Apparatus, a high-end lighting company out of New York. Handsome pendant lights in the adjacent kitchen compliment the dark tones.
The couple, who also own a vacation home in Laguna Beach, are art aficionados. “We like to buy in Laguna, but we also have purchased items at auctions,” Tim says, gesturing to two Salvador Dali etchings that flank the fireplace.
Originally they wanted to install metal doors leading to the spacious backyard, but they decided to play with metallic paint shades instead. “It was going to be quite an expense, and there were other things we wanted to splurge on. Paint helped us achieve the exact look we desired,” shares Paula. Orit chose the Farrow & Ball paint color, Railings, which is a brown/black shade evocative of a metal look.
While the home is filled with premium finishes, fixtures and amenities, it also includes touches of practicality. For the mid-century modern chairs in the main sitting room, they decided on an ivory acrylic, indoor/outdoor material by Perennials Fabrics.
“You can just give it a scrub and stains will come right off, even though these chairs look like linen,” says Orit.
Paula continues, “It’s not just about one chair or rug, but it’s how everything makes you feel together.”
For her, it was all about creating a vibe of casual elegance. “When people walk in here, I want them to feel relaxed and comfortable, like they’re at a resort.”
And as their most frequent guests—the Davis’ two kids and five grandkids all agree—mission accomplished.