Not even a modern California retreat can conceal the Midwestern roots of Kathy Taslitz, an interior designer and artist. When describing her and husband Matt Grode’s dream home—that is, one that could be comfortably shared with family and friends, the Chicago-raised decorator is on one of the heartland’s greatest cinematic scenes, quoting Kevin Costner’s character in Field of Dreams: “This was one of those, ‘If you build it, they will come’ moments.”

Taslitz and Grode also had the tools to turn their wish into reality. As president of MG Partners, a leading construction firm for custom homes in the LA area, Grode has built residences and relationships alike with boldface firms such as Olson Kundig, Ferguson & Shamamian, and Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects. (Seven of the practice’s recently completed homes have been featured in AD—Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis’s modern farmhouse, in Beverly Hills, Barry and Sheryl and Schwartz’s surfside getaway, in Santa Barbara, and Kipp Nelson’s cantilevered retreat in the Hollywood Hills, among them.) With Grode overseeing construction and Taslitz leading the interior design of their own house, the duo tapped architect Howard Backen and landscape designer James Doyle to round out their team.

Together, they created a modernist home bathed in sunlight and rich in natural materials, inviting textures, and custom sculptural works. “I like to keep things really simple on the eye,” says Taslitz, who approached each space keeping in mind the “yin and yang of heavy and light.” Incorporating organic elements such as oak floors and whitewashed wood ceilings throughout the 7,000-square-foot home, for example, helped soften the defining blackened steel windows. Elsewhere, in the open kitchen, lavishly veined white marble surfaces and backsplash counter the shadowy-hued cabinetry and range hood. “By keeping things understated, I can then let the objects of interest stand out,” Taslitz says.

And that, they do. One step through the front door and guests are immediately greeted by the first of many custom Taslitz designs, the We Need to Talk bench, made from a burled wood slab perched on a sizable bronze orb. In the primary bedroom, a pair of her Meant To Be bronze-footed oak nightstands flank the bed, while the Party in the House indoor-outdoor dining table is coated in a bubblegum pink to match the nearby climbing bougainvillea on the pool deck. Until, that is, new inspiration strikes. “That’s one reason it’s so great to be married to a contractor,” Taslitz says. “I get bored, so I’m always experimenting and changing things up. Matt always jokes, ‘Just don’t get bored with me.’”

While the palette was kept intentionally neutral indoors, a rainbow of colors awaits beyond the expansive retractable doors—a signature Backen element employed in the living room and the upstairs sitting room to foster indoor-outdoor living. “Having lived in Chicago most of my life, there’s nothing that makes me happier than being able to open those doors and bring the outside in,” Taslitz adds.

Bushes line the exterior to create not only privacy from the neighbors, but also a verdant backdrop from interior views. A rose garden wraps around the second-floor terrace, and nearby, an edible garden sprouting lemons, limes, kale, peapods, squash, and more is ready to fuel guests at a moment’s notice. “We love making our signature cocktail using fresh basil, lime, and hot peppers from the garden mixed with tequila,” Taslitz says.

It’s a hospitable home, indeed. “Building this house together in Santa Monica with our families and community of friends in mind, that for us is a dream,” she says. After a pause, Taslitz reconsiders: “Sometimes we joke that maybe we shouldn’t make it so inviting. This is the kind of house where people come and sometimes they just don’t leave.”

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