They interviewed many architects and finally selected Brian Tichenor and Raun Thorp, husband-and-wife partners who not only have lots of experience designing gardens in Los Angeles, but are also the parents of a young child, and so understand the requirements of a growing family. It was they who recommended Thomas Beeton, a longtime friend.
“Michael and Jodi had a shared vision and similar tastes,” says Beeton, who credits the couple with being the “ultimate” clients because of the latitude they gave everyone to be their most innovative and creative. “They asked a lot of questions and were always willing to go out on a limb and let us do what we do,” seconds Tichenor. “We design from the outside in,” continues Tichenor, who planned the gardens first and let the house, which Thorp describes as “Sabrina goes to L.A.,” nestle naturally among them. Almost every room opens onto a small terrace or balcony. The jewel of a sitting room off the media and living rooms flows into a formal, walled garden with a fountain. A covered loggia extends from the living room. Outside the dining room is a small sitting area built on the roof of the poolhouse. And beyond the family room, an al fresco dining area has its own fireplace, which means the family can have barbecues year-round. Upstairs, a private balcony off the master bedroom steals views of the golf course and makes them its own.
On warm days, French doors are thrown open to the gardens. The family eats outside, and the three children, two girls and a boy all under ten, are in the pool, on swings built into a wisteria-covered trellis, or riding their Razor scooters and bikes on the long, sloping stone driveway, the last word in skateboard ramps. The Prices were adamant that, while they wanted glamour, this was to be a family house, and it stands as proof that the term “family glamour” doesn’t have to be an oxymoron. “When I was growing up, my family had a not-so-living room,” says Michael Price. “It was the room the kids didn’t go into. That’s not the way we live. We all use all the rooms. Our home is about living, not about creating a museum.” In the breakfast room, for example, the fabric on the chairs is by Etro, but it’s been vinylized (read, childproofed). Beeton worked with the children on their rooms, and each picked his or her favorite colors and furniture.
Though the house is large even by the standards of Los Angeles, the rooms are not. They are scaled down for warmth. Instead of one oversize room, the kitchen, breakfast area, and family room are separate spaces that nevertheless work as a single unit, opening onto each other. The same is true of the living room and entry, both inspired by their rugs; the hall, with its terra-cotta walls, has an Aubusson, while the pale living room features an antique Agra. One flows into the other, yet they remain distinct. The rug in the dining room is actually a reproduction Tabriz, “because of moving chair legs and potential food accidents,” explains Beeton. The painted panels on the wall were based on the Chinese wallpaper in a Swedish castle, and the deep amethyst on the chairs picks up the lilac of the panels. But the multicolored striped silk on the windows seems to come from nowhere, until Beeton points out that “undecorating is necessary when you have beautiful objects and when your intent is to create a backdrop for people. This house is simply a portrait of the people who live here.” And for the Prices, the “here” is as important as the house, which is why it is so intricately linked to the land they love.