Take a Peek into a Toluca Lake French Country Traditional—an Ode to Old World Craftsmanship

They’re not making them anymore like this.

  • Category
    Homes, People
  • Written by
    Linda Grasso
  • Photographed by
    Shane O’Donnell

When Lew and Carolyn Goldstein got married in 1996 in Santa Barbara, they became enchanted with the local architecture, especially the classic Spanish Colonial Revival style that is so prevalent in Montecito. “I just love the striations in all the hardwood planks, the Handelman fixtures, all the archways—so much charm,” shares Lew, a longtime entertainment marketing executive, who helped launch both Fox and The WB networks. The couple also gravitated toward the warmth of French Country style. Soon after the wedding, they started talking about a hybrid house that would blend those two styles for casual living. “We aren’t formal people; we just wanted something that felt intimate.”

In 2000, the couple bought a property on a rectangular corner lot on a secluded, tree-lined street in Toluca Lake. Architect Marsha Scully, known for her work designing French Country homes, was hired to transform it.

Throughout the 4,700-square-foot residence are polished pecan floors with planks of varying lengths, hand-hewn distressed beams and custom molding. The ceilings are a demonstration of craftsmanship and artistry. Each one is distinct, and all are at least 10 feet high.

Keeping with a classic design, the living and dining rooms front the house on either side of the entryway. The living room features a coffered wood ceiling and large fireplace with a thick-beamed mantel and Santa Barbara stone. The living room has a built-in wet bar and French doors leading to the backyard.

Also on the first floor are a guest suite and French doors that open to a secluded sitting area surrounded by mature fruit trees.

The kitchen is a focal point, particularly with its built-in seating and large table. Standout features include a high vaulted ceiling with trusses, Brazilian granite countertops, and cabinetry with handblown glass fronts.

The backyard offers three distinct areas for relaxing and entertaining. In addition to the sitting area by the guest room is a central space with an outdoor woodburning/gas fireplace. There’s also a bar with a barbecue.

On any given day you can see the couple’s two kids, 12-year-old Aubrey and 11-year-old Brayden, splashing in the saltwater pool with the family’s two Australian shepherds. “We spend more time out there with the kids and the dogs than just about anywhere,” shares Carolyn, a salesperson for the clothing line Etcetera. The surrounding landscape of morning glories, hibiscus, roses and hydrangeas gives the space a tropical vibe.

On the second floor are three bedrooms, Carolyn’s office and Lew’s office/den. The Goldsteins put a lot of thought into creating their master suite, making it relaxed and comfortable with elements like a cozy window seat and a fireplace. But the architectural details continue, including hand-hewn beams and an eyebrow window over the bed.

An arched entryway leads to Carolyn’s office. It has twin skylights and windows that overlook the kitchen. “I asked the architect to put in those lookout windows (no glass). That way I could be up there working and look down and see what was going on with the kids!” she laughs.

Lew’s office/den, has a 350-bottle wine cellar as well as built-in cabinetry filled with baseball memorabilia. “I’m from New Jersey and so I’m a lifelong New York Yankees fan,” shares Lew.

Back when the couple bought the property, Toluca Lake was a different place. There were a just smattering of famous residents and the main drag, Riverside Drive, was filled with ho-hum retailers and longtime tenants like Bob’s Big Boy. But in recent years, Riverside has attracted trendy eateries and upscale shops, and more celebrities have put down roots. Steve Carey, Viola Davis, and This is Us creator Dan Fogelman all live nearby, and the Australian singer Sia is building a large home up the street. Still, the couple feels the neighborhood has retained its tranquility.

“It still feels very private. Despite all the development going on around here, it is still quiet enough to go out there and read a book,” states Carolyn.

Both Carolyn and Lew have elderly parents who live in the West Valley. Feeling the tug to be closer to them, they recently listed their home with SRM Real Estate Group. The listing comes with mixed feelings, admits Carolyn with a hint of wistfulness. “It is a magical place.”

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