Since husband-and-wife duo Alexi Rennalls and Sam Gnatovich started Los Angeles-based design firm SIMO Design more than 10 years ago, they consider several big-name celebs and executives, including Jon Hamm and music executive Aaron Bay-Shuck, as clients. With more than 20 projects under their belt, however, perhaps the most heartfelt project has been their own home.
Rennalls and Gnatovich recently listed their split-level five-bedroom, six-bathroom home, located within the gated community, The Summit, off Mulholland Drive, for $11.995 million. The home has a beautiful contemporary Parisian aesthetic both inside and out.
The first thing one might notice about any of the firm’s projects is the precise attention to how materials fit within a space. This home, built in 1987, intrigued them because of its size, but it needed plenty of work. They were willing to take on a challenge.
“The volume [drew us to this home],” Gnatovich says. “The house has great scale. We knew that we would have to tear it to the studs, but it was worth it because the underlying volumes of the space were great.”
The home spans 6,100 square feet across two levels. All bedrooms are located on the upper floor, while the living and entertaining areas are on the main floor. The dining room opens onto a small garden in the backyard. There’s a lovely pool with a spacious pool deck and a nearby lawn with beautiful views over the hills. There is also a chic library with a fireplace.
They didn’t keep much from the original home, but Gnatovich says they did keep the plaster coffered ceiling dome in the entry, which “began the language to the spiral staircase.”
Upon walking in, there is a sweeping staircase in the entry that Rennalls loved for its dramatic effect. She says: “It was a purposeful decision to keep the details in the entry to a minimum. We eliminated the base molding that is in the rest of the house and kept a simple reveal. We wanted the eye to just focus on the curve of line from the railing.”
The duo were heavily inspired by Parisian spaces: boutiques, facades, apartments and gardens.
“The starting concept was to marry old and new,” Rennalls says. “The idea was to start with a traditional home with traditional spaces and traditional details but we wanted to be able to introduce modern elements without it feeling out of place or distracting. Parisian architecture has a wonderful way of blending old and new very seamlessly.”
The home utilizes a neutral color palette and beautiful textures in a way that delight, which Rennalls partially credits to the lime wash paint, which is the backdrop for the entire house.
“It adds a layer of tactility,” she says. “With that as a starting point, all the other materials we selected had to play off of the paint, whether complementing or contrasting.”
The home is grand in nature, but the spaces feel connected. Exaggerated entrances link several rooms, but pocket doors and large curtains allow spaces to feel intimate.
Ultimately, the duo feels the home is too large for their needs.
“We love the house and have enjoyed being here, but it is too much house for us,” Rennalls says. “We just do not utilize all of the spaces. If Covid-19 has taught us anything, it’s that we can be happy with less.”
And sometimes, less is more.