Beautiful & Sustainable Choice for Home in Los Angeles, California
by Brian Kirn, senior product manager for CertainTeed siding
From Architectural West Nov/Dec ’15
Building a new home in an established neighborhood can be tricky; balancing the desire to create something uniquely personal with a certain degree of respect for the prevailing architectural norms. Dropping a futuristic post-modern structure down in the midst of traditional colonials may satisfy the urge to stand out, but won’t necessarily be appreciated by neighbors. The Schwartz family of Los Angeles handled this challenge with confidence. The home Eric and Hendel Schwartz built for their son, Jonathan, and his wife, Gabriela, blends seamlessly with the local architecture. Look closely, though, and it is clear that the Schwartzes went their own way in choosing an exterior cladding and trim package that is an attractive and practical alternative to siding materials more typically seen on multi-million dollar homes in the City of Angels.
A Cape with a Twist
Beverlywood is a small, less than one square mile, neighborhood located south of Beverly Hills on the west side of Los Angeles, blessed with mature trees and lovely mid-century homes. Though some of the younger families moving into the area have opted for larger, more modern designs, the Schwartzes looked to the East, specifically New England, for inspiration. “My wife, Hendel, and I wanted to build something that was consistent with the character and tradition of the neighborhood, but also had a clean, more updated feel,” says Eric Schwartz. “We did a lot of research on alternative styles and designs for the home. We eventually landed on a Cape Cod look and began to explore available materials for siding, a key thematic component of any New England home.”
Here’s where things took an unusual turn. Builder, Guy Grimberg, GME Development, Los Angeles, was the general contractor for the project. Over the years he’s done several dozen Cape Cod homes, most of which featured fiber cement siding. This time, however, his clients specified a different exterior cladding option: Cedar Impressions polymer siding from CertainTeed®. “The Schwartzes actually researched this product, went to see it on another property, studied it, and came up with the idea that this product lasts longer and would work better with this house,” according to Grimberg.
Schwartz explains, “We found that most of the homes in the neighborhood, and in Los Angeles, generally, did not use polymer siding. Those homes that had siding used primarily wood, fiber cement, or alternative synthetic materials. We found many of these siding materials unappealing. They required painting and maintenance and were flat, uninteresting products without depth or texture.”
Benefits of Polymer Siding
The Schwartzes had already decided to use CertainTeed roofing materials for the home, so it made sense to consider CertainTeed siding for the exterior. Cedar Impressions offered the right combination of aesthetics and practicality. Molded from real cedar shingles, it features authentic wood grain texture, and drains moisture readily, avoiding the water management issues that can plague other siding. It is available in a wide range of styles and colors; the Schwartzes chose double 7″ straight edge perfection shingles in charcoal gray.
“We liked the look so much that we decided, at the suggestion of the architect and builder, to utilize the decorative shingle siding on all four sides of the expansive, 4,000 sq.ft. home, rather than just the front facing as many of our neighbors have done,” notes Schwartz. “The juxtaposition of the dark gray shingles and the white trim and balconies, also from CertainTeed, along with complementary white roses, camellias, and other flowers in the garden, make a strong New England color statement.”
Though the overall cost of the polymer product was higher than that of the other siding materials considered, the Schwartzes felt the benefits were worth the added expense. “Over the long term, we expect to come out ahead,” Schwartz says. “The siding has a lifetime warranty, including against fading. It will never require painting or caulking and will not chip or peel; it will stay that beautiful charcoal gray shade forever. It’s also impervious to the elements and if it gets dirty, we simply wash it down.”
A Hit with the Neighbors & the Professionals
The Schwartz family is quite pleased with the reaction of the community to the new home. “We’ve received many compliments, and questions, about the home and, in particular, the choice of polymer siding,” says Schwartz. “Most importantly, Jonathan and Gabriela are delighted with their beautiful, traditional, and very unique home and its elegant siding.” Schwartz also points out that this project made new fans of the professionals he and his family worked with on the home. “Our architect, Tom Leishman, and builder Guy Grimberg have since readily embraced the new siding. Grimberg recently used Cedar Impressions on another home, and has used CertainTeed trim and molding products on several other projects.” Consideration for the neighborhood context into which a new home must fit, willingness to evaluate alternatives to the status quo, and to do the research needed to determine the best choice, are lessons one can learn from the Schwartzes, who are happy that their discerning judgment paid off so handsomely.