4 min

DOMINO - The Design Updates That Made This House Worthy of a Bid $700K Over Asking

It might have something to do with the exterior transformation.

When designers Amanda Leigh and Taylor Hahn of House of Rolison relisted this Beverly Hills home after a months-long renovation, one of the very first people who strolled through the open house was the woman they bought the place from. “It’s always nerve-racking when an original owner comes through,” says Claire O’Connor, one part of the duo behind O’Connor Estates, the company representing the listing. It was especially stressful in this case given the original owner had been there since the property was built in 1950. Everyone was on the edge of their seats. Finally, after getting a good look around, she turned to Claire and her sister–slash–business partner, Sam, and said, “They saved everything I loved and made everything else better,” recalls Claire.

Leigh and Hahn made it so much better that when they put the house back on the market, it went under a pending sale for $700,000 over the initial asking price of $5,995,000. There were six offers—five of them all cash. Part of it was the O’Connors’ clever marketing. They listed the house with a twilight shot of the exterior that made it look like a warm, homey treehouse. “I think that appealed to a lot of people,” notes Claire. Part of it was the location: It’s on a corner lot on a wide street. But of course, it really whittled down to the design decisions House of Rolison made inside (and out), from turning the ADU above the garage into permitted square footage to sandblasting the ceiling beams to show off the raw wood. “You have these flippers who go in and try to maximize the assets and then sell them. For us, we really care that somebody’s going to walk into our properties and have never seen something before,” shares Leigh.

Fool the Neighborhood With a Dramatic Exterior Change

the exterior, before
Photography by Gavin Carter

When Leigh and Hahn first told the O’Connors that their plan was to stucco the facade and paint it all black (specifically, Benjamin Moore’s Graphite), they were a little taken aback. “And then they did it, and it turned out to be such a cool part of the property,” says Claire. The transformation was so dramatic that agents who were long familiar with the property didn’t recognize it at the broker’s open house. “It was cool to see other people be like, ‘Wait, I remember I’ve been here,’” says Sam.

Clear the Way for an Intimate Lounging Experience

the living room, before
photography Nils Timm

As you enter the front door, you’re greeted by the kitchen on your right, a TV room in front of you, and a formal living area off to your left. The sense of openness is brand-new (before, there was a large wall bisecting the informal family room), but everyone will ultimately pull up a seat around the salvaged brick fireplace—at least, that was the place people naturally gathered during the open house. “Everyone was so drawn to that room,” recalls Claire. “People were comfortable enough to just hang out, which is the ultimate compliment for a real-estate agent.”

Tap Into the Kitchen’s Alter Ego

The kitchen, before
photography Gavin cater

Hahn and Leigh’s renovation mantra is less “let’s buy cheap subway tile at Home Depot” and more “let’s honor the architecture.” The kitchen is the perfect example of their marrying the past with the present. The peninsula is a nod to the home’s traditional cottage vibe with its oak cabinets, spindle-style handles, and Crema Marfil marble countertop, while the galley side combines trendy Calacatta Viola and chunky stone hardware. “We were a little scared it wouldn’t go well together, but I actually think it came out really fun and different,” says Leigh.

Utilize a Tight Bathroom’s Side Wall

Photography Nils Timm

House of Rolison pulled a slab of green stone from its warehouse when designing the narrow guest bathrooms on the ground level. They opted for a side faucet and an elongated, curved shape so that people wouldn’t feel claustrophobic in the space. “We wanted there to be enough room to get around without putting in an ugly corner sink,” says Leigh. They gave the stone some extra texture by adding an etched detailing around the perimeter and swathing the walls in a matching roman clay treatment.

Pay Homage to Old Paneling

the stairs, before
Photography Nils Timm

As the designers tackled the stairwell, they attempted to save the original wood paneling, but as they broke into the walls to update the electrical systems, “it all just kind of crumbled away,” recalls Leigh. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise. They used it as an opportunity to re-create a similar design that fit the scale of the space better and accounted for a secret door moment leading to one of the bedrooms.

Bring the Party (and the Cooking) to the ADU

Photography Nils Timm

At the top of the garage, the designers made a crucial addition: an up-to-code ADU. The space now features a bedroom, bathroom, balcony, and kitchenette all-in-one that count toward the property’s overall square footage.

photography Nils Timm

They replaced the carpeting with 9.5-inch-thick oak planks, realigned the brick fireplace, and added a cooking area complete with an electric cooktop and double-drawer refrigerator. That way, the next owners can entertain friends up there or work and won’t have to worry about trekking down to the kitchen to make a cup of tea.

Raise the Roof—Er, Tub

Photography Nils Timm

Hahn’s idea to situate the freestanding bath in the primary bathroom on a marble platform was an ergonomic one: It feels better to step up into a tub rather than immediately crouch down. They also didn’t love the idea of water constantly dripping straight onto the new wood floors. “Then we got carried away,” says Leigh. The stone detail turned into them buying nine slabs of Viola Mocha marble that they then used on the vanity and inside the shower. They almost thought about wrapping the baseboards in stone, but stopped themselves for the sake of staying on budget.

Photography Nils Timm

The massive shower was all about the idea of togetherness. “People love to say they can both take a shower, right?” says Leigh. “You want to hang out with your person but not feel like you’re on top of each other.” The designers brought a few of their friends over during construction to see the space and put it to the test. Six of them sat there chatting and there was room for everyone. “To be clear, the water was not on!” Leigh says, laughing.

Prioritize the Grass Over the Grill

the backyard, before
Photography Nils Timm

After making the pool safer by adding a second drain and replastering the whole thing, the designers replaced the wood decking with a smaller concrete border and carved out a small lawn. They decided against making the new grill space a focal point, relegating it to the brick wall border.

photography by Gavin cater

“Normally, whoever is grilling is like, ‘Everyone leave me alone; I’ll be over here.’ So we tucked it away a bit more,” says Leigh. It’s the little things, like some privacy and peace of mind, that people are willing to pay a whole lot more for.

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