A model and a rocker create a tranquil setting in Toluca Lake to anchor their family.
- Written byPauline Adamek
In the heart of charming Toluca Lake, at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac, lies a refined, tasteful, traditional two-story home. From the exterior it probably looks much like it did in 1939 when it was built … one of the things that attracted Mitzi Martin. She discovered it two years ago while her husband, Buckcherry lead singer Josh Todd, was on the road.
Mitzi, who has a successful career as a model, was attracted to the fact that it had “a little bit of a patina on it, with real hardwood floors and brick.” Yet she hesitated about taking on a complete remodel.
A year went by, and Mitzi heard the owners had dropped their price. “Josh called me from the road and said, ‘Buy the house.’ He never even saw it,” she marvels.
The family, which includes daughter, Willow and son, Martin, migrated here from the Westside. “Hollywood’s great when you’re young, but we just grew out of it,” Josh explains.
“You can shop easily, and the mall’s amazing. There’s parking everywhere, and you can hike. So we became Valley kids,” Mitzi adds.
Complemented by beautiful, antique marble light fixtures and marble fireplaces, the four-bedroom main structure is bright, airy and kid-friendly. The recent remodel introduced more white marble throughout—even in the laundry room situated behind the predominantly white, pristine kitchen.
With its Mediterranean blue-and-cream rug, built-in shelving that is painted a deep blue and sunny yellow, and cotton velvet upholstered couches, Mitzi declares the living room her favorite area. Small vintage ottomans, purchased from the Rose Bowl Flea Market and recovered, flank the coffee table.
The family can often be found hanging out in the backyard under one of the covered lanais that frame an enormous, 12-foot-deep pool. “It’s amazing, beautiful and so glamorous, and of course the kids love it too. It comes in handy as they swim all through ’til October,” she quips.
Antique stone frogs spout water at each corner. There are also pool and guesthouses on the grounds.
The family also makes good use of the sophisticated dining room, with its romantic, floral wallpaper and dramatic, vintage crystal chandelier—both of which are original to the home. Green velvet chairs cluster around the antique table from Wertz Brothers. A bench seat has been sensibly stain-proofed with an olive green, crocodile-print, vinyl seat cover.
In place of an expansive, dark, clubby drinking room complete with a newspaper rack, Mitzi and Josh created a kids playroom. Using the original bar structure and chairs, which are drilled into the ground, they’ve fashioned a utilitarian snack bar. On the wall rack, now painted a fresh blue, the kids place their favorite books.
Interior designer Sarah Buxton was given the guideline of “cool and easy glamour”—to which she added contemporary flair. “Mitzi likes things glamorous, and she doesn’t like modern,” she says. “She loves color and wanted to freshen up the dark look of the original house.”
After making the initial wish list with the contractor, reality sunk in. Most of the budget was going to be eaten up by new roofing, rewiring, painting, flooring and structural changes like raising some of the ceilings. So Sarah and Mitzi realized they were going to have to get creative with decor.
“I went from Pacific Design Center to the streets of downtown and to swap meets to recreate this look I had in my head. I had to duplicate the fabrics and furniture with a much smaller budget, plus there was no time for long lead times. I designed and had most the furniture custom-made,” Sarah explains.
There were some splurges, though, such as hand-knotted Tibetan wool-and-silk area rugs from The Rug Company on Melrose. Ann Sacks “blossom” tile was selected for a pretty, green-hued mosaic backsplash behind the cooking range. Adds Sarah, “I always think if you throw in a few expensive quality items with the less expensive items, it creates a layered, lush look.”
And that lush look has definitely created a low-key yet luxurious vibe—one that is ideal for recharging. Josh shares that he has traversed the world twice in 2½ years and admits he feels a bit tired. But the rocker is not complaining.
“I’m super-fulfilled, and it’s a quality life. I’ve got the American dream—a beautiful home, beautiful wife, kids. Every time I leave, I feel like I’m always fighting to get back home.”
A creative lair, indeed.