A father and son channel their shared appreciation for architecture, design and old-world craftsmanship into a Spanish masterpiece.
Nestled in the exclusive Royal Oaks neighborhood, a grand yet charming Spanish-style estate stands out among the beautiful homes. It is the co-creation of local oral surgeon Rene Ghotanian and his father, Albert Ghotanian.
“In addition to operating my dental practice, I am a general contractor and enjoy building fine homes. I worked in the construction business with my father when I was growing up in the San Fernando Valley before going to dental school,” says Rene.
By education, Albert is a civil engineer—though his passion has always been architecture. “Being an artist, a hairstylist or an architect—things that require creativity—you can’t go to school for that. It has to come from here,” Albert says, gesturing at his heart.
With inspiration from their European travels (Portugal and Spain in particular) and Santa Barbara mission-style properties, Albert and Rene designed and built a 15,000-square-foot home that boasts seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms and a seven-car subterranean garage. One of their favorite parts of the house is the elegant mahogany staircase in the main foyer that was hand-carved by two brothers from Peru.
“They started working on it the day that we poured the foundation. It took eight months to complete,” says Albert.
According to Rene, a special wood shop was built in the back of the property for the Peruvian artisans. In addition to the staircase, they crafted wall paneling, wainscoting and unique scalloped window and door casings throughout the house, as well as some special exterior details.
“I felt that part of the façade of the house was empty, and I was inspired by decorative wood around windows that I had seen in Northern Spain to complete it. My father and I designed the detailing together and repeated some of the design above the garage.”
VALLEY VILLA The expansive backyard offers multiple seating areas for outdoor entertaining. Below: Albert Ghotanian in front of a stained glass window.
To complement the exquisite interior woodwork, hand-made walnut floors from South America were installed in intricate patterns. Wood ceilings balanced the rich wood decorative theme and were enhanced with exposed Douglas fir structural beams, including some that were transported from Northern Canada and Alaska for the project.
To offset the heaviness of the wood and to wash the rooms with soft, natural light, Rene designed beautiful, large, arched, leaded glass windows with subtle floral accents that were made by an Irish father and son in Glendale. Late-19th-century crystal and brass light fixtures from antique shops in Paris that once held candles were electrified to adorn the ceilings as a part of an old-blended-with-new overall lighting design.
In contrast to the delicate French lights, wrought iron exterior fixtures were designed with inspiration from French magazines and made locally by a talented Mexican ironworker.
The stone and tile installed in the home was a continuation of the artistically thoughtful selection of materials and finishes. Rene bought hand-painted blue and white tile in Portugal for the kitchen fireplace, backsplash and risers in the travertine back staircase. Emerald green marble from Italy greets visitors at the entryway and visually carpets the grand staircase up to the second floor.
Within an astounding 14-month construction timeline, the fruits of Albert’s and Rene’s labors, coupled with their natural affinity for design and old-world artistry, yielded a luxurious architectural masterpiece. Rene and his family have lived in it for the past seven years, but the home is now listed with Wish Sotheby’s International Realty agent Brian Pane.
Reflecting back on the houses he has built in California since relocating from Iran decades ago, Albert feels all are splendid works of art—“but nothing like this one,” he says with a smile.
INTIMATE SPACES Rene and Albert relax in the front courtyard.