Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

If you love it, you’re in luck: it’ll be on the market next month

Nena Farrell  – September 23, 2019 | Updated October 30, 2019

Carly Waters left family law in 2014 and launched her company, Carly Waters Style, the same year she bought her first home in Los Angeles. She originally planned for it to be an organizing business, but its focus shifted to design as her work gravitated toward creating functional, styled spaces. After purchasing her home that year, she and her husband, Chip, renovated it and sold it a few years later. Quickly after that, the duo decided to continue remodeling their own homes, with two young children along for the ride.

After selling that first home, they were renting an apartment looking for their next project. “ After seeing no fewer than 100 potential homes, we landed on this 1950s mid-century in one of L.A.’s most sought-after neighborhoods—Pacific Palisades,” says Waters. 

The house had sat empty for years, after the last owners foreclosed on it in 2012. “Upon walking onto the property, I knew in my heart that this was the perfect next home for us to save. It fit the bill—years of bad renos, bad finishes, water-infested walls—my cup of tea,” she says.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

“We ended up doing a complete remodel, and all but tore down the exterior walls. None of the systems —plumbing, electrical, etc.—were functioning, and the home had been cited for not having central heat. There was no laundry, and none of the bathrooms were functioning. The only silver lining was that the roof had just been redone as there was a major leak that caused water damage to the walls and ceiling. We ended up tearing down almost every interior wall, as most were water-damaged, and ripped out all the old drywall from the walls and ceilings,” says Waters.

She stayed true to the home’s original architecture, while at the same time completely reimagining and renovating the property. It was that architecture that influenced her design choices over the course of the remodel, giving it the modern update it desperately needed. “We infused the space with a sophisticated California vibe through both the finishes and furnishings,” she says. “The house has clean lines and minimal embellishments, which meant each material we sourced had to bring in warmth.”

Upon opening the front door, you can see that fresh new look front and center. “We designed an oversized mirror for the space, which immediately sets the tone for the rest of the house,” says Waters.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

Her biggest challenge, reveals Waters, “was knowing where to stop. When you peel back the layers (and walls) of bad remodels, you have to decide when you have done enough, and what areas should remain untouched. For us, that meant leaving the original fireplace but remodeling every other aspect of the home.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

“When I first saw the home, it felt like someone had attempted to cover up its mid-century roots,” she says. “Starting at the entrance, the front fence made you feel like you were arriving at a horse stable. Once you entered the property, all of the finishes were a hodgepodge of Craftsman and cheap ‘90s materials. The layout felt choppy, and the lack of windows made the space feel small and dark. It was clear why so many people wrote off the house—it seemed impossible to fix.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

What Waters could see in the home was that it had great potential for indoor-outdoor living, thanks to the complete privacy and surrounding canyon views, thanks to the house sitting on the end of a private street. “My goal was to expose the original character of the home. Design-wise, we set out to create a look I coined warm minimalism. In achieving this look, we needed to utilize muted tones—think rust hues, olive tones, and oak finishes. We incorporated textiles that mainly consisted of oatmeal linen fabrics, which softened the stark angles of the house. Because we incorporated a lot of black, we balanced the vibe with loads of wood,” she says.

Her ultimate living room additions? “Do not underestimate the power of a well-designed sectional—it is the gathering space for all of your guests, and the jumping gym for your children. Also, gas fireplaces are magical, even in L.A.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

Sitting next to the living room is the light-filled kitchen, facing out into the backyard and dining area. “My biggest design advice—use cabinet fronts on all kitchen appliances,” says Waters. “That one element elevates the entire space.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

The simple wooden open shelving matches Water’s warm minimalist ethos, complementing the darker countertops.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

“The dining room table was the very first piece we purchased for the home, and we designed the rest of the space around it,” says Waters. “I knew that a slab table was exactly what the room called for—and luckily, found the perfect one at a local shop.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

No living space is complete without a bar cart. This simple black cart, paired with the wooden frame above, rounds out the mood of the room.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

For the guest room, Waters’ adopted a less-is-more approach. “I believe in minimizing the amount of furniture, and instead, creating built-in dressers in the closet. Also, in terms of efficiency, it makes the most sense to have everything in one place.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

For the kids’ room, Waters infused practical concerns into the decor. “Blackout shades are a parent’s best friend,” says Waters. “We designed and fabricated the Roman shades, and added a leather detail to the bottom trim to keep them consistent with the rest of the house.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

Waters aims for her designs to be timeless, and the kids’ bathroom is no exception. While it’s tempting to deck it out with kiddo-specific decor, Waters warns against making the bathroom feel too childish. This pays off, too, as the room won’t need to be redecorated as your children grow.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

Another big challenge Waters faced with this home was the original layout. “It took a few trips to the property to realize we needed to completely flip the floorplan,” she says. After some sketching on the walls, Waters decided to move the kitchen and dining areas next to the living room, and relocate the master bedroom into the kitchen’s original location.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

But moving the bedroom to a new location provided its own challenge: a closet. “We decided to demo the existing shared garage wall, and steal square footage from the garage,” says Waters.

The result? The master now features a wall-to-wall reach-in closet, with a built-in dresser in the center.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

For her youngest, Waters made a surprising decision. “Because we value having a guest room (both sets of grandparents live on the other side of the country), we decided to add a nursery to our oversized master bedroom,” she says. “We sourced a Stokke wood crib on wheels, which has been one of my favorite purchases for this house.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

For the master bathroom, Waters stuck to a very minimalist aesthetic. “Plaster walls are my new favorite design element,” says Waters. “I will never do another house remodel without incorporating plaster walls. Shower walls without grout equals perfection.” She chose Tadelakt Decolakt Moroccan plaster.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

The plaster-walled master bath also features a free-standing tub, with its own wall nook to hold bath accessories.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

“The exterior was the hardest aspect of this remodel,” admits Waters. “For me, the interior comes naturally—and quickly. I can see things and do not hesitant with decisions. But exteriors and landscapes (and pools)…they are their own beasts (hence why landscape architects exist). We waited an entire year before touching the outside so we really could decide what the house needed.”

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

Waters took advantage of the angled exterior walls near the backyard to make an indoor/outdoor shower, and this eye-catching vanity to go with it. “We also designed the shower curtains to go from the floor to the ceiling, something I had never seen before. Because the ceilings are only eight feet high, we used every trick to raise the eye,” says Waters.

Photo by Jenna Peffley, courtesy of Carly Waters

It took Waters two and a half years to remodel and restore this now jaw-dropping home. “Good design does not happen overnight,” she reminds us. “We made intentional design choices to be as sustainable as possible, and reflect our lifestyle and philosophies. Often times, those choices took more time and money, but we knew in the long run it would all be worth it. We made a conscious decision not to cut any corners, so that our design would stand the test of time, and hold up to two young children.”

The remodeled gem is hitting the market next month, and Waters is already looking for her next project—hopefully in the same neighborhood, as she’s fallen in love with the Pacific Palisades over these last couple years.