WRITTEN BY: DEBBIE YANUCK
Hoping to break the mold of architectural predicability, nelly and sidney cobos set out to create a one-of-a-kind home that balances modern sensibilities with the livability of a true family home. MORE BEAUTIFUL PICS IN THE GALLERY AT THE END OF THIS STORY!
The house invites me in. Literally. The front doors stand open and the view straight through to the backyard is filled with sunlight and clean, open lines. A beautiful light fixture hanging in the entry does not diminish the house’s appeal, instead the 23 silvery glass balls suspended in a staggered DNA strand fashion only add to the happy energy floating through the house. Nelly Cobos and her husband, Sidney, welcome me warmly into their newly completed Hidden Hills home, and when their adorable, one large, one small, dogs trot out, I’m uncertain if I’m ever going to want to leave.
I have been inside a lot of beautiful homes before, but without sounding too mystical, this home is clean but not sterile, bright, but not cold, it is as Sidney describes it so perfectly, “Modern meets family.” The type of family that hugs you goodbye after having met you a mere hour earlier.
As we walk through to the kitchen, a staircase shaped like a black rolling wave draws my eye. The stairs are black granite and the floors white glass. After the wood floors are installed on the first floor, Nelly has them pulled out and redone because they do not give her the “wow” effect. The white glass floors shimmer and reflect the natural light shining through the windows. No crown or base molding clutters the soft white walls and windows instead of walls blur the line between the interior and the exterior of the house.
The kitchen is open, sunny and begs to be used. It is so comfortable that we talk leaning against the island, like family prepping for Thanksgiving dinner. Nelly knew of Hidden Hills long before they move there. They live in Bell Canyon and Sherwood Forest (Northridge area) first but neither area suits their desire for a family community. Then, they find a home in Hidden Hills. They move into a rental house in Hidden Hills to better manage the construction of their new home.
The owner of the rental is kind enough to let them move in the day before Halloween so the family can experience a Hidden Hills Halloween for the first time. While the rental never feels like home, it allows them to be in the community and to be close during construction. Nelly is at the site daily, sometimes hourly throughout those eighteen months. It becomes a full-time job, envisioning and implementing the ideas to create the family nest, so much so, they when they go out to dinner one night, one of the daughters says that she will only go with them if they promise NOT to talk about the house.
George de la Nuez, a local architect of Rocha Nuez Associates, designs the 8,400 square foot home and the 2,000 square foot barn, while Courtney Cohen and Jason Hanussak of the interior design firm Elysienne works with Nelly and Sidney to create the interiors. What I soon discover is that the Cobos have a hand in every aspect of the formation of their dream home. When Nelly cannot find just the right light fixture for the entryway, she designs her own. After the front transom window is installed, and Sidney realizes that it is too small, he does not shy away from having the front reframed to accommodate a larger window. As the light beams through, I see that he made the perfect decision.
Nelly wants the home to be the place where their two daughters; one, 13 and one, 11 want to hang out with friends and family. The sparkling pool built by Hidden Hills Resident, Dave Lionelli of Lionelli Masonry, with lounge chairs floating freely along with an oversized plastic duck, makes it obvious that a lot of time is spent outdoors. As Nelly gazes out into the backyard, she says, “Dave built the pool of our dreams.” There is an outdoor fireplace, fire pits and behind the pool sits a two-story black and white barn. It is home to a Quarter horse and two mini-horses. The oldest daughter strolls into the kitchen, garbed in riding gear, to let her parents know that she’s about to go on a ride. She sits with us after making herself and her dad a protein smoothie and I easily feel the tight family bond. They discuss an upcoming end-of-summer cousins’ barbecue that they are hosting and point out that every aspect of the design/build of their home has been centered around the desire to host friends and family often and with everyone’s comfort in mind.
When I remark on the sheen of the kitchen cabinets and how well they suit the kitchen, Nelly says, “Shawn Belschner, the owner of Fun Time Cabinets, gave me everything I asked for in his design and construction.” The cabinets, an island, and drawers all fulfill the interesting dichotomy that runs throughout the house design; they are stunning, unobtrusive and homey all at the same time.
The Cobos use local contractors as much as possible because it is important to them to support the community. Wendi and Mike of De Light Ville Lighting Store help Nelly to select the light fixtures throughout the interior of the home and when she does not find the ‘perfect’ lights for the exterior, they have custom lights made. Keir Milan and Mike Tanaka of CCS Communications work tirelessly to automate the home with a Crestron system and also build the theater. It is a team effort and one that Nelly and Sidney orchestrate to a striking outcome.
The living room does not house ‘do not touch’ furniture. Instead, one of the family business’ Elevate Customs, designs and builds a custom gaming table to extend the easy-going family room atmosphere to create another space where everyone lounges and plays together.
The Cobos’ joy is not only from living in their new home but also from living in Hidden Hills, an area where no one is a stranger for long. Nelly says, “The first day we moved in, one neighbor brought over a Bundt cake, another a plant, and the welcoming committee brought flowers. In ten years living in my other neighborhood, I never even met my neighbors.”
The other day, she watches as her daughter pedals her bike to a friend’s house. She tells me that she feels so comfortable knowing that the area is safe and that everyone watches out for everyone else.
The almost two years spent living in a rental house while their home is constructed is more than worth it to the Cobos. Nelly mentions that her daughter recently had thirteen of her friends spend the night and this is exactly what she wants for her family. A place to relax. A place to grill together. A place to grow forever family bonds.