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Nestled in the hills of Santa Monica, California, Laura and Steven Baker's home blends as seamlessly with the surrounding landscape as any man-made structure could.
The open style and thoughtful siting of the 1,600-square-foot house, designed by famed modernist architect Craig Ellwood in 1953, are among the traits that persuaded the Bakers to purchase it in the early 1990s. At the time, the couple, who have two children, Jed, 15, and Lucie, 12, were living nearby in bustling Century City. "We decided we needed nature to be a bigger part of our lives," says Laura, an interior designer. "When we came here, it was so peaceful. I looked out at the greenery and trees, and they just won me over."
The Bakers, with their children and fox terrier, sit around a steel fire pit, a reproduction from a late-1940s design.
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A pair of Paul McCobb chairs in striped velvet (left) and a T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings coffee table are set before a plaster fireplace.
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Room with a View
The living room windows frame the trunk of a sycamore tree; the room features a rattan chair by Franco Albini and a custom linen-velvet sofa.
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The home's quartzite flagstone floor and Douglas fir ceiling are mirrored in the patio pavers and roof overhang; sleek, vinyl-mesh butterfly chairs are arranged on a gravel seating area.
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The Dining Area
A brick wall that has been painted white divides the kitchen -- with its mahogany dining table, made by a family friend, and 1950s French wicker chairs -- from the living room.
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Honed black granite countertops are juxtaposed against honey-colored Douglas fir cabinetry in the kitchen; translucent glass doors on the cupboards provide a glimpse of Laura's collection of vibrant Czech pottery from the 1920s and '30s.
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The Master Bedroom
In the master bedroom, a wooden table with a rattan pull, a reading lamp in the same contrasting hues, an African stool in a rich chocolate shade, and whimsical vintage skateboards soften the white-and-gray color palette.
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The studio was designed to look like the main house.
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Along one wall of the living room, floating shelves hold "things we think are beautiful," Laura says; these include ceramic vessels, old bottles, surfboard fins that washed up on the beach, and even a twisted column of melted candle wax.
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Forming a pretty tableau in an adjacent corner are pieces of Steven's pottery propped up on Douglas fir pedestals, a shapely midcentury chair upholstered in pale wool, and a vintage surfing photo.