Behind-the-Scenes: Equestrian Contemporary Residence

Our office recently visited one of our ground-up residences under construction: a contemporary home in Los Angeles. At site visits like these, our Project Managers share their work with other teammates, so our staff can learn from each and every home we design. The homeowners, avid equestrians and gardeners with three teenagers, hired TBA to create their dream home in an idyllic canyon setting to feel as though it has always been a part of the site. This intangible “sense of place” is imperative to all of our projects.

Our project team of Contractor Greg Shain (Shain Development, Inc.), Landscape Architect Lisa Zeder (L.Z. Design Group, Inc.) and Interior Designer Joy Stowell (Joy Stowell Designs) started with us from day one. The assignment? Design an open-concept, two-story house with garage, outbuildings, a pool and gardens.

Pencil Exterior Elevation Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
A preliminary exterior sketch of the front facade created during Schematic Design. The final design was refined and simplified, inspired by working horse barns.
Project Team Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
The TBA project team on site with Shain Development, Inc. From left: Interior Job Captain Isela Lopez, Job Captain Ben Jensen, Design Associate Mher Khachikian, Project Manager Sergio Schwark, Construction Administrator Kevin Sack, Project Superintendent Dave Green, Principal Tim Barber, Greg Shain.

This particular site lies within a tranquil canyon lined with trees – residents of the neighborhood have the best of both worlds by living in a place that feels very rural, but only minutes away from shops, restaurants and schools. “This set the stage for a really fun project where we could combine rural barn aesthetics with simple geometries and ordinary materials, reimagined into a modern home,” shares Senior Project Manager Kelly Becker. 

We sited the approximately 6,000 square-foot main house toward the center of the lot to  offer privacy and engage with all sides of the property: an edible garden sits at the front and a large backyard includes an outdoor kitchen, pavilion and pool. Alongside landscape designer Lisa Zeder, we suggested a bounty of sustainable features: permeable landscape, gardens and a cistern with underground irrigation drip system to recycle collected greywater. “The site plan revolves around the idea of a horse farm; with emphasis on indoor-outdoor living through cooking and sharing meals outdoors, wooden boardwalk paths and decks, and a pergola for shade,” notes Project Manager Sergio Schwark. Exterior materials of the home complement the rustic nature of the site with no steps, vertical wood siding, a corrugated metal roof and steel pipe chimneys.

Garden Shed Concept Images
Preliminary concept images like this one brought a shared vision for the landscape design to our TBA project team, Lisa and the homeowners. Image:

Indoors, we created an open floor plan to make entertaining all-inclusive, with opportunities to highlight the owners’ impressive art collection. Large exterior openings lead us into the surroundings. “This house has strong axial moments. From the front door, we have a direct view to the backyard. A wide corridor on the second floor separates the primary suite from the other bedrooms,” explains Kelly. “The front garden and rear yard are equally special exterior spaces that we can enjoy at the same time from these connecting spaces.”

The living room and bar include matching exposed flue fireplaces across from each other on opposite sides of the house. The exposed flue is framed by a large steel window on both sides. This space features Job Captain Dominic Dijamco’s favorite detail of the home: a hidden television. “The low built-in (which flanks the fireplace) frames log storage like art and also conceals a large television. The television is recessed into a four-foot slab depression – which was probably one of the most challenging details our team developed. The recessed TV provides grand views when concealed, and also serves as a theatrical reveal when it ascends through the top of the built-ins.”

Living Room Bar Elevation Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
The elevation of the living room fireplace and bar. Notice the outline of the television on the right, which is recessed into a four-foot slab depression when concealed.
Living Room Framing Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
The living room construction underway, which will soon house the fireplace.

Joy Stowell balanced warm woods, dark steel and bright whites, integrating farm vernacular with modern sensibilities. “We often met as a whole team, with Joy and the homeowners, to make design choices – it was collaborative, efficient, and fun,” explains Job Captain Isela Lopez, with TBA’s Interior Architecture department. 

Kitchen Elevation Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
Large steel windows and doors behind the kitchen sink capture the views outside, and modern finishes, sourced by Joy, contrast with the natural beauty of the canyon.

Framing is well underway – and is expected to be completed by the end of July; followed by rough plumbing and HVAC work. Thermal insulation, efficient heating systems, tankless water heaters, energy-efficient appliances, PV solar panels and EV charging stations will also be integrated into the home by Shain Development – a valued collaborator of this exciting project. “Greg and his team work with us to develop the best solutions while keeping the design intent and homeowners’ desires in mind,” shares Construction Administrator Kevin Sack.

Equestrian Contemporary Front Facade Rendering Framing Equestrian Contemporary Tim Barber Architects
3-D rendering of the front of the home (left); the front of the home in framing (right).
Equestrian Contemporary Rear Facade Rendering Framing Tim Barber Architects
3-D rendering of the rear facade/yard, pool and pavilion (left); the rear of the home in framing (right).

Our custom homes are made of many individual materials and details. So is our process in designing it – including TBA staff members and our many valued collaborators. Interested in seeing more of our in-progress projects? Explore them here.