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By Elizabeth Jenkins | Photo: Interior photography by Grey Crawford | October 17, 2016
A successful internet entrepreneur teams up with designer Jennifer Dyer to add texture and intrigue to his Palisades home.
For a self-described “internet guy” who says he doesn’t take himself too seriously, Daniel Starr knows an awful lot about design. He treasures midcentury-modern masters like Eames and Saarinen, and appreciates expert landscaping. His ex-fiancee, an interior decorator, may deserve credit for his initial interest, but with each new residence he inhabits, Starr’s love of design—and a good project—has grown.
The Pennsylvania native and internet entrepreneur has lived in Los Angeles for 15 years, bouncing from Hollywood to Santa Monica, Malibu to Beverly Hills, trying different neighborhoods on for size. When Starr came across this contemporary home in Pacific Palisades, he couldn’t resist the views. However, he was intent on improving upon them, while also modernizing the interiors and making the house more masculine. And he knew he needed help.
A decade ago, Starr rented a house in the Hollywood Hills and was taken not only with the home, but with the furnishings. He asked the landlord who had decorated it and learned it was the previous tenant, Jennifer Dyer of Jeneration Interiors. “I asked her name before I rented it,” he recalls, “and said, ‘When I buy a house someday, I am going to have that lady design it.’ Then I looked her up like a million years later and said, ‘Are you still doing this?’” Luckily, the answer was yes, and Dyer was brought onto the project.
In addition to the view, Starr loved the layout of the four-bedroom home. The open floor plan—with the kitchen, dining and living rooms all together—appealed to him, as did the outdoor entertaining areas and petite pool. He was not as keen on the outdated finishes and haphazard landscaping though. “It looked like someone took a bag of seeds and threw it at the house,” recalls Starr, laughing. “It was random and overgrown.”
He hired Brown & Associates Landscape Co. to overhaul the outdoor spaces and create the desert vibe he desired. “We found a great nursery down in Orange County that had this incredible 19-foot, 35-year-old cactus that we craned over and planted in front of the chimney outside,” explains Starr. “When it’s uplit at night, you can see it from all around. When I’m doing Postmates I just say, ‘Look for the cactus house.’”
The facade of the home was grayish-white stucco, but Starr preferred it white, so he had it painted. Afterward, however, he thought it looked boring, “like a white pill box,” he said, so he wanted to add texture—specifically, some kind of reclaimed material. Dyer suggested asking the contractor to locate beachy-looking driftwood. Kavin Construction ended up finding reclaimed wood from a 100-year-old barn in Northern California. They used it on a new fence, gate and garage door, and to surround the front door. “I think the wood has done so much to warm up the house,” says Starr.
Out front, on the terrace, as well as in the backyard surrounding the pool, he replaced the existing synthetic turf with a better-looking version by Smart Grass. He purchased teak furniture and Sunbrella cushions from Restoration Hardware and added a fire pit in front and a second in back. “At night I always have the fire pits on,” he says. “The view of the Pacific is really nice, and even though the pool is small, it’s the perfect size for me.”
With family on the East Coast and colleagues overseas who visit often—and sometimes stay for months at a time—Starr wanted the home to feel inviting. “I am a single dude, and I have dogs, so I wanted the interiors to be simple,” he explains. “I told Jen that the furniture needed to be comfortable; it needed to last; and it couldn’t be unfriendly or cold.” Dyer chose a palette of white, black and gray to give the 3,500-square-foot house the crisp feeling he was looking for.
Despite avoiding tearing down walls and changing anything structurally, the home received a major face-lift. “The bathrooms were completely gutted, with new plumbing, tile, vanities, showers and tubs,” explains Dyer. The kitchen island was redone and wrapped in Carrara marble, and all new stainless steel appliances by Thermador and Sub-Zero were installed. Dyer created a dining area adjacent to the kitchen, granting Starr’s wish for a marble oval Saarinen table and Eiffel chairs by Charles and Ray Eames. Overhead, a brass and frosted glass fixture by Roll & Hill helps define the space.
In the living room, Starr requested a Restoration Hardware sectional that he had seen in another home. “The sofas are in the perfect leaning, snuggling position for dogs—and for just chilling,” he says. “Plus, you can beat them up. Sometimes if you have a beautiful Minotti or another high-end couch, it looks [terrible] after dogs are on it. But the more beat up mine gets, the better it looks, even with their nail prints,” he says proudly.
Starr feels the same way about the rustic-looking French oak floors by The Garrison Collection that he chose to replace the existing walnut-stained wood throughout the house. “People always ask if they have to take their shoes off,” he explains, “but I’m like, ‘No. Do whatever you want.’ They are durable and will look even better [with wear and tear].”
All three bedrooms feature digitally-printed wallpaper in a matte finish that adds both character and texture. In the master, sliding glass doors allow for a completely unobstructed view of the ocean, as does the glass railing outside, which replaced a bulkier cable-style overrun with plants. “On a clear day, the view is amazing,” says Starr, “and when it’s not too hot, I open all the doors. It’s really bright and open and beautiful,” he says. The master also features a raised seating area with a tufted leather sofa by Article and a velvet chair from Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams.
Starr turned the fourth bedroom into a handsome office with grass-cloth wallpaper by Holly Hunt and bookcases by Noir. Besides books, Dyer filled the shelves with vintage motorcycle helmets. “I used to ride motorcycles and have lots of helmets,” explains Starr. In the den, a tufted leather sofa from Restoration Hardware and a sculptural travertine table by The Phillips Collection create another seating area for guests to congregate. “The cool thing about this house is that every room feels really special and unique,” says Starr, “and it’s the perfect house to have five or six people over and just hang out. Plus, my neighbors are really chill. Toward sundown, pretty much everyone is outside having wine or smoking a cigar. It’s really pleasant.” We would have to agree.
Kavin Construction Inc.
Brown & Associates Landscape Co.
Desk chair in office
Saarinen pedestal dining table and Eames Eiffel chairs
Coffee tables in living room
Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams
Velvet chair in master and club chair with acrylic sides in living room
Credenza in dining room and bookcases in office
Lamps in master bedroom
Powell & Bonnell
Brass and leather barstools in kitchen and desk in office
Teak patio furniture, tufted leather sofa in den, leather sectional in living room and pendants in guest bedroom
Rugs in master bedroom and master sitting area
Rugs in living room and den