September 23, 2023


Giving your Home a new Option

Venice House by Sebastian Mariscal

One of Los Angeles’s newest listings is a serene retreat that got its start right here at Dwell. Featured in our November/December 2013 issue shortly after its completion, the ebony-stained home was designed by Sebastian Mariscal for Michael Sylvester, a former content strategist at Dwell, and his wife, Tamami. Sylvester first learned of Mariscal’s work during his time at the magazine, and he eventually commissioned the architect and self-narrated the entire construction process in an epic 22-part construction diary for
A screen divides an entry porch from the first of several private courtyards and outdoor areas. The home is clad in ebony-stained cedar siding, which is contrasted with mahogany-casework.
The entryway opens into a courtyard overlooking the main living pavilion. Throughout the home, interior spaces flow with multiple outdoor areas via folding and sliding glass doors.
The home is designed as a compound of structures connected by formal outdoor spaces—each room comes with its own deck, patio, roof garden, or courtyard. “In the design phase, I was pushing Sebastian to enlarge some of the rooms,” explains Sylvester in the 2013 magazine article. “He disagreed, and now that the house is finished and we’re experiencing the spaces, I understand why. All of Sebastian’s rooms are very intimately scaled, but the rooms feel huge because they open onto outdoor rooms.”
The original architectural model provides an overview of the structure from front to back, starting at the right. Covered patios, courtyards, and rooftop gardens fill exterior spaces.
Another view from the first courtyard and the living area, which opens onto a second courtyard and patio on the opposite side.
One of the forces that drove the original design was Sylvester and Mariscal’s desire to save several existing trees, including a magnificent California live oak and a 40-foot-tall pine tree. “When I first visited the site, I was moved by how the trees in the front were creating a special silence of green within the eclectic neighborhood of Venice,” says Mariscal. “The first thing that came to my mind was that I must preserve the same view, meaning my design cannot be seen from the street—only trees, only green.”
Today, the California Live Oak blocks a view from the street and the massive pine sits in the front courtyard—in addition to a Japanese Maple, bamboo, and other lush specimens. Here is a look into the second courtyard and covered patio off the kitchen.
The covered dining area also marks the end of main public areas, with a door leading to the master bedroom.
“Mariscal is an auteur,” comments Sylvester. “That’s reflected at all scales, from the whole scale of the property down to minute details: the cabinetry, the joinery, small windows onto gardens. Things we take delight in discovering were all part of his vision from the beginning. I think this is a testament to the scope of his talent.”
A look back at the living area from the second courtyard reveals the thick custom casework surrounding a set of solid mahogany lift-and-slide pocket doors.
An opposite view of the same courtyard.
Now, after moving to Rancho Mirage, the couple have put the storied home up for sale for the first time ever—and they recently reduced the asking price from $4,200,000 to $3,695,000.
“[Our street] is a textbook example of the architectural diversity that you get in Los Angeles, and I think we’ve contributed to that,” says Sylvester. “I don’t know of any home in Venice that looks like ours.” Keep scrolling to see more of this unique property—and at the end, you’ll find links to the epic 22-part Dwell web series that Sylvester wrote from 2012 to 2013.
A private deck sits just off the master bedroom.
A smaller private outdoor space connects the master bathroom with the home gym. The home offers TOTO fixtures including Neorest Japanese toilets and whole-property water filtering.
Another view of the master bath courtyard, which is lined with Eco Arbor Designs deck tiles and features a ceramic Peanut planter by John Follis for Architectural Pottery from Vessel.
Stairs lead up to a rooftop deck that adjoins a media space and two guest bedrooms. Sylvester describes the couple’s need for space to house relatives on months-long visits from overseas. “We wanted to have this idea that you can be in your own private space, integrated with nature, and you don’t know that someone else is in a room next to you or around the corner,” he says.
A view from the rooftop garden into one of the guest bedrooms.
Sliding pocket doors connect the space to the rooftop garden.
One of the guest bedrooms is illuminated by a skylight in the corner, above a built-in desk.
A deck connects the guest bedroom with the other bedroom and stairs leading to the living area downstairs.
The first floor plan: 1. Garage, 2. Utility, 3. Laundry, 4. Recreation room, 5. Bedroom courtyard, 6. Bathroom courtyard, 7. Master bathroom, 8. Wardrobe, 9. Toilet, 10. Master bedroom, 11. Outdoor fireplace, 12. Main courtyard, 13. Covered pavilion, 14, BBQ area, 15. Living room, 16. Dining room, 17. Kitchen, 18. Home office, 19. Pine Needle Courtyard, 20. Oak Tree Courtyard, 21. Covered entry, 22. Vestibule, 23. Powder room.
The second floor plan: 1. Rooftop garden, 2. Media room, 3. Guest bedroom, 4. Bathroom, 5. Deck.

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