High school sweethearts settle in to their
sophisticated empty nest
Written by LESLIE GREGORY HAUKOOS
Photos by MICHAEL COONS
When Josie and Marty Martinelli moved from the large traditional Westlake home where they had raised their family, the decision happened quickly. Renters living in their Westlake townhouse gave notice that they would be moving out and Josie said to her husband, “Want to downsize?”
Though the process of freeing themselves of a lifetime’s worth of possessions was a daunting and emotionally difficult task, Josie says now that it’s done, it feels liberating. She has time to go to the gym daily and do the things she wants to now that her home responsibilities have been knocked down to size.
And what’s not to enjoy, seeing how beautiful they made their downsized empty nest. “I told my husband I’d only do this if we did it right,” Josie says. And right they did.
Designer Elyssa Parton of Pacific Rim Design was a big part of the project. She helped Josie and Marty define the clean contemporary style that is so different from the traditional design of the home where they raised their three children. “Josie knew she wanted a contemporary look in her newly designed home so we set about creating a Zen paradise for her and Marty,” Elyssa says.
The Martinellis had kept the townhouse, which had belonged to Josie’s parents, as a rental. Once they decided to move in, there was much work to be done to bring it up to date and make it “just right.” The couple lived in a hotel 4½ months during renovation—expensive, says Josie, but kind of a treat in itself.
The process began with some significant reconstruction. They raised the ceiling in the living and dining rooms to 11 feet and pushed out the back wall as far as they could go, within the restrictions of the townhome development, which helped achieve a “more spacious feeling,” Elyssa explains. Even with the additional square footage, the Martinellis still have a sizeable outdoor patio area which feels even larger since it butts up against a greenbelt, affording plenty of impromptu visits with neighbors walking by.
“There was an old-fashioned fireplace that we replaced with a contemporary fireplace with glass rocks and a remote to turn it on with a click of a button,” Elyssa says. “It doesn’t get any better than that!”
“Creating a Zen environment requires the home to be free of clutter so the mind feels peaceful and relaxed,” explains Elyssa. “The energy in a room flows more freely when it is free of clutter.”
To achieve that, the Martinellis had to shed most of the belongings collected during the 45 years they lived in their family home. That meant distributing some of their things to their children. But, says Josie, the kids already had their own homes filled with their own things and didn’t have room or inclination to take on all of their parent’s belongings, no matter how lovely they were. So the process of liberating themselves from their furnishings was tough at times. “We had lots of beautiful antiques,” Josie recalls. But they wanted their new home to have the “feeling of a New York apartment,” which meant the excess things had to go.
But any difficulty that presented was more than outbalanced by the fun of getting the new place just the way they wanted it. And the couple chose a few special pieces to bring with them into the new place. “The dining table had so many delicious memories that we wanted to incorporate it into the design,” Elyssa says. They also kept an antique occasional table that was Marty’s grandmother’s and a painting dated 1879 that had been in his family for years.
“We chose cool colors throughout the house in order to have visual continuity and that is what gives you a relaxing Zen atmosphere,” Elyssa explains. “It’s important to create chromatic harmony.” The primary interior paint color is Benjamin Moore’s “Calm”—
fitting given the ambiance of the rooms.
Josie and I worked together on every aspect of design,” Elyssa explains. “It was one of the highlights of my career and, as Marty says, ‘so much fun.’” Marty takes credit for choosing the front entrance door. “We walked in to Agoura Sash & Door and I said, ‘that’s the one I want’,” he recalls.
Today the high school sweethearts are happily settled into their new home, enjoying the freedom of having a Zen-like empty nest that affords them the comfort and room to entertain friends, children and grandchildren.