Moving to the far corners of the northwest Valley came as something of a surprise for Gina and Reza Izad. The two met 20 years ago while working in the entertainment industry, and they had always lived on the Westside. But when daughters Ruby and Stella came along, the couple felt a need for change.
“We wanted more open space and a slower lifestyle to raise our toddlers. Reza’s parents were building a home in Bell Canyon, and we fell in love with the quiet equestrian community,” Gina explains.
In 2016 the couple started looking at property in the gated community, ultimately zeroing in on a spec home on a secluded cul-de-sac. It had a Santa Barbara stucco façade, terra-cotta roof and a sprawling backyard.
They originally wanted something more transitional in style, with more natural light—not to mention higher-end finishes and fixtures. But the bones were spot-on for what they aspired to create: a Spanish modern villa. The couple hired Toluca Lake-based interior designer Orit Srour for the transformation, offering succinct directives.
“We wanted to keep it bright, organic and clean, with pops of color and art. We aspired to juxtapose heavier materials such as iron, limestone and marble with softer organic materials found in nature,” says Gina.
The family moved in in 2010, with plans for a multiphase renovation. The first phase included recreating the master bathroom as well as two dated rock fireplaces. Ebony-stained hardwood floors were installed in the living and billiards rooms, bedrooms and office.
For phase two, the couple built a large pool, deck, barbecue station and a fitness studio—Gina is a Pilates instructor—that also includes an office.
The final phase was completed last year: redoing the flooring on the first story with oversized, reclaimed limestone, sourced from old French and Italian villas.
“I knew the limestone would give the home a sense of history. We had already replaced part of the home with dark ebony-stained hardwood floors, so the choice had to be something complementary. The existing arches as well as the wood-paneled ceilings set the tone for the antique limestone floors,” shares Orit.
The kitchen was also redone. Although Gina had visions of an all-white kitchen, the final design ultimately integrated several enhancing hues, masterfully selected by Orit.
“We added interest with handmade Moroccan Zellige tiles from Clé Tiles for the backsplash. Each batch of tiles is different, providing variety in texture and color and ultimately giving off a compelling vibe of imperfect beauty. And we incorporated a little color with the dark blue/black center island, painted with ‘Railings’ by Farrow & Ball,” Orit says.
That center island ended up being the spot for what Orit calls the kitchen’s “tour de force.” After culling through more than a half dozen stone yards, the designer found a striking slab of Calcutta Borghini marble. “It had just the right amount of drama we were after,” she concludes.
The ceiling soffits were lifted to add height and drama and a large pass-through window was installed over the sink, offering a seamless flow into the verdant backyard. The breakfast nook was widened—with floor-to-ceiling windows throughout—to allow for more natural light.
The dramatic environs set the stage for the Izads’ eclectic collection of art, which is thoughtfully placed throughout. In particular, the couple is drawn to works that reflect pop culture. There are several paintings by Donald Robertson (former Estée Lauder creative director-turned artist) in the home, including depictions of Karl Lagerfeld and Coco Chanel. Reza, who is cofounder and chairman of the multiplatform media company Studio71, is also drawn to Western-themed art. “My grandparents were ranchers and lived in both Fillmore and Rivers, California. I have always loved Western art with landscapes and cowboys.”
Relaxing in their bright kitchen on a Saturday morning, nibbling fresh grapefruit that Reza’s father has just dropped off, the couple’s appreciation is palpable. “It’s been a real blessing during COVID to have the backyard and the Pilates studio/gym,” notes Reza. One can also sense their pleasure at having created an idyllic design that exudes California lifestyle and sets the stage for their family’s future.
The food is only part of the charm.