Coming Home

An Encino native moves back into her historic childhood home and renovates—with a deference to the past and a nod to the future.

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  • Written by
    Linda Grasso



Growing up in her parent’s 1920s Spanish Colonial in Amestoy Estates, Gail Silverton had something of an idyllic childhood. “My family moved here in the early 1960s. There was nothing but walnut groves and sheep, really. Much of it was still zoned as horse property,” Gail explains.

cominghome2 FULL THROTTLE The couple’s grandkids Camila and Lorenzo let loose along the front porch—as intended.

Her mother was a writer for the soap opera General Hospital and her father was an attorney. Gail’s sister is well-known chef/restaurateur Nancy Silverton. Originally, Nancy wasn’t a fan. “When I first moved into the house I was 10 years old and I hated it,” Nancy says. “I’d been living in a traditional tract home in Sherman Oaks and this new house was so different than anything I had seen.”

But that soon changed. “Because of the spacious yard, combined with the personalities of my parents, it ended up being the place my friends preferred. The house became a treat for me—and my friends.”

cominghome3 KICK BACK  The family relaxes on the back patio. L to R: Joel, Gail, daughter Allie Ludwig and her baby, Max. “We spend nearly as much time outdoors as indoors,” quips Gail, who was married on the property, as was her daughter.

After their dad passed away two years ago, the sisters inherited the property. And although both women felt an affinity for it, it made more sense for Gail to own it. “My life is so centered around my work and my restaurant is near Hollywood. Gail’s life is more in the Valley,” Nancy says.

So Gail and her husband, Joel Gutman, packed up their beloved Studio City home.

cominghome4 FRESH AIR An outdoor room adjacent to the main house has a wall adorned with African art. “Back in the day this ‘sala’ is where guests would sleep. They’d just draw curtains for privacy,” Gail says.

“It wasn’t something I really wanted to do to be honest,” says Joel. “But I realized how important it was to Gail. I knew what this house meant to her. She wanted to relive her old memories and we figured we could create new ones with our growing family.”

Children are a constant presence with the couple. Gail founded and is the director of The Neighborhood School in Studio City. Joel, a retired media rep, also works there, as does daughter Allie, who is a teacher.

The next year and a half were a blizzard of activity as the couple went about repairing and renovating the property. Preservation was the central goal. The footprint is the same; every wall remains standing.

cominghome5 ROMPER ROOM   Gail and Joel, along with daughter Allie and their grandchildren,
play in the guest bedroom used for the younger set.

She says the house was built on land that was at one time part of the Los Encinos Ranch. (For more on the historic property go to Last Word on our final page.) “Because this house is pretty small—comparatively—we think it was a caretaker’s house,” Gail says. The ranch was originally comprised of more than 4,000 acres that sprawled across what we now know as Encino.

Gail worked with designer Lori Erenberg on interiors. The duo decided on a color palette of five hues, all colors of the period—light blue, red, golden yellow, emerald green and terra cotta. All of the fabrics used were made prior to the 1940s.


The furnishings and accents reek of Mexican authenticity. Talavera tiles, scattered throughout, were purchased in Puebla. Most of the furniture and accessories were bought in Oaxaca and on There is a fireplace in every room.

“Since we moved in, we’ve only had one FAMILY DINNER inside. Everyone gathers around the table right over there.”

Now happily settled in their new digs, it is hard to tell who loves it more, Gail or Joel. “Since we moved in, we’ve only had one family dinner inside. Everyone gathers around the table right over there,” she says, pointing to one of the large, rectangular umbrella-covered tables that dot the property.

“I’ve got to admit it is pretty great,” adds Joel, who takes a short break from reading a book to granddaughter Camila. Gail sits on the floor setting up a train set with grandson Lorenzo. “You just really have to keep an eye on these little guys,” he laughs. “Especially Camila. She just loves to wander off and explore!”