The View From Here
A showbiz couple and their family of rescue pups delight in an exquisitely appointed hilltop home in Sherman Oaks.
Written byPauline Adamek
As you drive up the winding streets off rustic Benedict Canyon, it feels like you are in a wildlife preserve—except for the homes discreetly tucked into the hillside. One of them—perched on a flat expanse up a curved driveway—belongs to Valarie Ianniello and Mark Perez.
The couple felt like they were in heaven when they first moved here back in 2001; they traded up from a 600-square-foot, one-bedroom apartment in West Hollywood. However, there was work to be done.
Wrought iron fencing, unmaintained trees and messy hedges blocked the panoramic vista from the one-level structure, which was built in the ‘50s. “But we could totally see the potential,” Valerie adds.
“I wanted a Frank Sinatra-style house,” Mark muses. And at 1,900 square feet, the three-bedroom, 2½-bath pad with generous windows fits the bill.
Another priority: a killer view. Smiles Valarie, “We both grew up in Florida where it’s flat. There’s no such thing as a view like this,” gesturing to the sweeping panorama beyond the picture windows. “It’s so peaceful, looking at the mountains.”
The pair had been together for years before they officially married on the property, under the picturesque pine tree with its symbolically intertwined trunks. They’d started dating while studying at Florida State College, eventually moving to LA to pursue entertainment careers.
Valarie landed several acting gigs before turning her hand to screenwriting. A French production of a farcical comedy she penned is slated for next year. Mark, a comedy screenwriter, is currently working on a Universal Pictures comedy starring Jennifer Lopez.
The couple are ardent animal lovers and big proponents of recusing pets. In fact, as soon as the offer was made on the house, Valarie headed to East Valley Animal Shelter to adopt a second dog. They currently have four rescue dogs quietly padding about the house.
The home has undergone three remodels over the past decade, which have included removing all the heavy wood paneling and replacing the creaky, rusty doors and windows with dual-paned ones. New hardwood flooring, tinted with a grey-blue wash, was installed, and the kitchen was expanded, including new appliances.
Throughout the various phases, Valarie worked with Loren Schnider of Concept Design to achieve an effect of minimalism and simplicity—with clean lines and earthy, neutral tones. “She has been my mentor,” Valarie raves. “My taste has really evolved because of Loren.”
“Valarie and Mark are extremely down-to-earth people,” Loren says, “and their goal was to create a home that was completely comfortable, dog-friendly and warm. It wasn’t about trendiness or fashion, but simply for them to love their environment and have personal and meaningful things around them.”
Acknowledging her clients’ priorities, Loren confirms, “Everything else is secondary to this grand view, and there is very little need for art because it is all windows.”
Indeed, Valarie says they were careful to ensure that none of the decor would compete with or detract from their magnificent view.
Several key pieces of antique furniture take pride of place, including a comfy Vioski armchair swathed in blue ikat fabric. A large, round, distressed dining table that can seat 10 was custom-made by Jeannot Fine Furniture in Van Nuys. A sculpture by Shani Foster is the perfect centerpiece.
One key transformation was the master bedroom suite, which originally included a small bedroom, an antiquated bathroom and tiny TV room. Loren urged the couple to break through all three rooms, eliminating the TV room, in order to create a spacious master suite with walk-in closet. “It changed the whole feel of their home and made them so much more comfortable,” Loren shares.
Eye-catching bronze statues and various objects d’art, some obtained by Valarie during travels in Africa and Southeast Asia, are thoughtfully positioned—placed on antique, low cabinets and side tables.
“This house is a reflection of us,” says Valarie. “We don’t travel as often anymore. We figured out we’d just rather stay here and enjoy our ‘spa.’”