At Home With Paula Rosen
Published September 6, 2012
As they drove up the driveway of a hilltop house in Rancho Santa Fe, Paula Rosen and her husband, David, knew they were home. “We’ll take it,” Paula said instantly. “It’s just what we’re looking for.” What may have seemed like a snap decision really wasn’t. Thanks to Paula’s persistence, and the patience of their real estate agent, they had already considered dozens of houses. This house, the Rosens knew, had been worth the wait.
“It just had such a great feel to it,” Paula remembers. “The spot was so spiritual.” Located at the end of a road, the two-acre property, dotted with birch trees and even a California redwood, has views of Del Mar and the ocean to the west, mountains to the east. This Rancho Santa Fe refuge was love at first sight for Paula, a jewelry designer and artist whose clients include pop icons and rock stars, and David, a businessman with post-production studios in Los Angeles and New York.
The Rosens worked with Pebble Beach architect Eric Miller and local contractor Jody Gregory to renovate the five-bedroom house, a project that took a year. The result is a sophisticated home that doesn’t take itself too seriously. There’s a playful “Do Not Sell” sign on the living room coffee table, Paula’s not-so-subtle hint to David. The home is filled with art, many by their friends, along with salvaged furniture, a toy rocking horse from 1910, and often quirky treasures from Paula’s weekly trips to Kobey’s Swap Meet. “I see the world with an artful eye,” explains Paula. “I see everything that exists, as art. It makes the world a much prettier place.”
The entryway, tiled in old tumbled limestone from France, is hung with large acrylics by American artist Sarena Rosenfeld. A whimsical mobile by Kenneth Prescott always delights the Rosens’ three grandchildren. In the living room, there’s a painting by New York artist Sam Goodsell, along with a mosaic bowl that Paula fashioned from pieces of glass and found objects. She discovered antique silk, once owned by Marie Antoinette, in a shop on Paris’s Left Bank, and stitched it into pillows. Paula loved the color palette so much, with its earth tones of avocado, sage, and burgundy, that the fabric became the inspiration for the Rosen home.
Even though the house is filled with beautiful things, it is not precious. “I like it because it’s a place where everybody is comfortable,” she says. “It’s that kind of house. You can put your feet on the furniture. You can eat in front of the TV. You know what I mean? There’s nothing formal about it at all. It’s just welcoming to anybody and everybody. It’s warm, and it’s home.”
In the dining room, mixed media by Lalo Yunda (who is also a well-known tattoo artist in New York’s Chinatown) flank a 17th century Irish pine armoire. A massive Kern & Co. pine table can seat 27; the dining chairs are from The Country Friends Consignment Shop. A pine hutch from Vermont displays another of Paula’s projects: a mosaic chair made of “recycled everything” — bits of glass, broken shells, the top from a bottle of Veuve Clicquot, pieces of vintage jewelry. “It makes people smile,” she says, “because it reminds people, ‘Oh, gosh! My mother had this!’”
In the family room, slouchy linen couches surround an old teak bed from China, inset with grass cloth, which has been turned into a coffee table. Lamps are made from antique wallpaper rollers once used to apply patterns to paper. There are modern touches as well, such as three television monitors so David can watch golf, football, and tennis, all at the same time.
Just off the family room is the kitchen, Paula’s favorite spot, with its refrigerator cleverly concealed by hand-painted Brazilian doors she salvaged in Carmel, along with coordinating, built-in cabinets. She likes to sit at the concrete counter while David, whom she describes as an “extraordinary cook” whips up pasta and chicken, with produce from nearby Chino’s and the Rancho Santa Fe Farmers’ Market. (When they eat out, the Rosens are regulars at the nearby Dolce Pane E Vino.)
It’s also in the kitchen where Paula creates her one-of-a-kind sculpture and jewelry. Her statement necklaces, bracelets, and earrings are wearable art, made from discarded and broken jewelry, with new chains and findings. While Paula won’t name names, her celebrity clients range from rockers to country western stars. (The pieces are available locally at Matti D in Del Mar, Traffic and Jose Eber in Beverly Hills, as well as online.) While she has an artist’s studio in L.A’s Venice, Paula is also working on a “dream studio” at her Rancho home with views of the Del Mar Race Track and the ocean just beyond. The new studio is a necessity, Paula says with a laugh, because her works-in-progress “just take over the whole house.”
While horror stories about home renovations abound, the Rosens’ experience was quite different. In fact, one reason they appreciate their house so much, is because of the people who helped to create it — whether architect or contractor, pool man or gardener. “We just fell in love with them,” says Paula. “All the people who surround this house and make it work are just these creative, soulful, really good friends. I don’t think you can replace that.” So when the house finally was finished, the Rosens threw a big Fourth of July party. They invited all those who worked on the project, as well as their families, to celebrate the house, that for the Rosen family is now a home. Andrea Naversen
Photography by Vincent Knakal