DuJour Navigation

Go Inside a California Dream Home

When childhood friends reunite, the result is a modernist paradise on Los Angeles’ Westside

View the gallery

Josh Greene was working for noted interior designer Michael Smith in Los Angeles when he got reacquainted with Michal Spitzer, with whom he was raised in San Marino, California. “We grew up down the street from one another and were in the same class in elementary school,” says Greene. “When my family moved to Seattle in the early 1990s, we lost touch.” Twenty years later, they reconnected in the interior design world and afterward, when Greene and designer Katrina Hernandez had a firm called Hernandez Greene (each designer is now working on their own), Spitzer reached out to him. She and her husband, Paul Davis, along with their two kids, were building a home in Santa Monica Canyon, an intimate enclave up a winding road from the Pacific Coast Highway, and needed a designer. “Paul wanted something very modern and Michal wanted something with more decoration, so, from the get-go, it was always going to be a give and take between the architecture and interiors,” says Greene. “They balance each other out as a couple.”

Greene’s interiors were inspired by the homeowner’s personal style and the architecture designed by Barbara Callas of Callas Architects. “She is one of the coolest women I know,” he explains. “Full of warmth, very stylish and extremely well-edited, but all in an easygoing and natural way.” The modern architecture, by comparison, was strong and angular, so furnishings needed to be softer but hold their own in the space. A lot of dark walnut was used in stairs, soffits, walls and millwork, and the window frames are black, so Greene used a mix of neutrals with bold solid colors. With all that black, the fear was that the rooms would be too heavy, but white shades and clean furniture staved off that pitfall. “Objects, art and accessories were ways to bring in more of a handmade, bohemian feel to soften the modernism,” says Greene.

For both Greene and Spitzer, shopping together was the most fun part of their collaboration. They were able to choose pieces they had coveted over the years while decorating clients’ homes, like the master bedroom lamps from Rose Tarlow. Greene sourced furniture locally from famed boutiques like JF Chen, Orange, Lawson-Fenning and Nickey Kehoe, and mixed in favorites from vendors like The Future Perfect, BDDW, Apparatus and Cassina. Spitzer and Davis have two young children, so the space needed to be practical and functional—and not too precious. They also like to entertain, so the indoor-outdoor dining and entertaining spaces are generous. “This house gets used!” says Greene. And, really, that’s all any designer could ask for.