Expansion above the Canyon

Expansion above the Canyon

Contemporary Project  |  Bel Air, California
This luxurious home in Bel Air reached its peak potential with a renovation that modernized and expanded its footprint, with all needs met under one roof. Kolbe’s VistaLuxe® Collection windows and doors created floor-to-ceiling walls of glass and framed the show-stopping views like works of art.

Architect: Chris Richartz | Builder: FORM design & development | Kolbe Distributor: Window Concepts Inc – Irvine

| Interior Decorator: Robyn Ordon | Photographer: Adrian Van Anz

In Bel Air, where tall hedges and winding roads hide the havens of movie stars and music executives, sat a home that was a time capsule of the famed neighborhood’s past. “It was a very charming, traditional home with great bones,” says interior decorator Robyn Ordon, who owns the property with her husband. “But there were quite a few drawbacks.”

The house was built in 1952 and had been renovated by the previous owners in the mid-’90s, but not much had been done since. Despite the city’s perennially blue skies, sunlight barely made it inside the dated floor plan, which (this being Bel Air after all) seemed quite modest for the area. “The house had too few bedrooms for this neighborhood today, plus their layout wasn’t ideal,” Ordon recalls. “There was also no foyer, and while not all homes can be blessed with one, the existing entrance opened into a narrow hallway right off the living room.”

It did, however, have 4,000 square feet to work with, and the potential to add a great deal more. Ordon pictured a bright, contemporary home where a family could have all they needed under one impressive roof. She didn’t want it to be too ostentatious, since newer neighboring homes sprawl considerably over these mountains, but the size needed to better complement the luxury materials that would soon be found inside.


A Kelly Wearstler brass chandelier hangs above the dining table, while French outswing doors sweep open to embrace the outdoor spaces.



Uniquely placed casement windows, instead of a mirror, welcome soft, natural daylight into one of the home’s many bathrooms.


And besides all that, nothing was as problematic as the one true wasted opportunity. “There were overgrown hedges and scrubby trees surrounding the entire property, and as a result there was absolutely no view,” Ordon says. “I had to climb my way through the brush to be blown away by how gorgeous the canyon, mountain, and ocean views were.”


The home’s existing portico was turned into a foyer, complete with 10-foot ceilings.


After living in the home for two years, Ordon teamed up with Michael Campbell of FORM Design and Development to undertake a renovation that would introduce modern amenities and a larger footprint to the nearly two-acre site. Together, they would prepare the property for future buyers. “We kept a lot of the stone and wood details of the exterior, and we opened up the rooms and staircase to create better flow and light,” Campbell says.


Floor-to-ceiling multi-slide doors open the primary bedroom to views of the canyon.


Over the course of five years, Ordon and Campbell painstakingly brought every aspect of the house into the 21st century, adding 5,000 more square feet and bringing it to a total of six bedrooms and nine bathrooms. To give the home an airy feel, they reconfigured the layout and created space for a foyer with 10-foot ceilings that opens to a gourmet kitchen and a grand staircase.


Casement windows and direct sets with black performance divided lites provide sophisticated views with the look of steel.


It was a constant dance, figuring out how to modernize each space while keeping the aesthetic warm


Kolbe multi-slide doors cleanly pocket into the walls, fully opening the home to outdoor vistas and canyon breezes.


As for the home’s show-stopping view, Ordon and Campbell turned to Kolbe Windows & Doors to make the most of it. Ordon selected direct set windows, swing doors, multi-slide doors, and casement windows from the company’s VistaLuxe® Collection, and she decided to frame them in black and Abalone to showcase each view like a work of art.
“With the wonderful views in the primary bedroom in particular, I wanted floor-to-ceiling walls of glass in a more contemporary look,” she says. “In this case, I had them done in white, and the final result was gorgeous.”


“The black frames of the Kolbe windows and doors add such class and dignity to the project without distracting from the interior design and exterior views,” Campbell says.


The project updated the home’s existing five bathrooms while introducing four new ones. “There was originally one primary bathroom, which was gutted and redone, and the original bedroom office was turned into another bathroom,” Ordon says.


“The Kolbe doors work extremely well with the custom iron doors we have throughout the home,” Campbell says. “The finish, especially on the black doors, is very soft and reflects the light gently. As far as doors go, they’re works of art.”



The most challenging aspect of the project was extending the outdoor living space, which required 16 caissons for support

The backyard’s expansive veranda proved to be the project’s biggest challenge – the initial budget estimated that it would need six caissons for support, although it ended up requiring 16. The added effort was worth it—the space features heated floors, a pool deck, a hot tub, and a fire pit. They even spruced up the pathway leading to the property to make it feel more welcoming.

The residence is currently up for sale, and its future owner will get to experience what Ordon and Campbell envisioned all along: A house with a cherished history, modern touches, and a perch that puts the beauty of Los Angeles on full display.

“We really were able to create something very special in this home,” Campbell says.