WHAT KIND OF HOUSE DOES one of Santa Monica's busiest young custom-home builders construct for himself? In late 1985 Paul Zahler, 34, president of Paul Zahler Construction Co., and his wife, Tory, had begun to build a Mediterranean-influenced house for themselves. A trip to Santa Fe, N.M., however, sold them on that region's distinctive Southwestern style. When the Zahlers returned from Santa Fe, they began to modify their almost-completed house to reflect their interest in Southwestern architecture.
The exterior of the 4,000-square-foot house remained virtually unchanged, but the Zahlers hired designer Van-Martin Rowe to create the Southwestern-style interior. Rowe specified many of the furnishings and all of the interior detailing--beams, textured ceilings, unusual paint finishes, special plastering techniques, fireplaces, cabinetry and tile. (He even painted the upholstery fabric for the family room.) Rowe's most striking contribution to the Zahler house may be his design for the elaborate master bath, with its glass-brick wall and tile-sheathed tub.
Paul Zahler's success in the residential construction business began in 1983 when he and Tory remodeled a small 1930s home for themselves not far from their present home. "The aesthetics of that first remodel made such an impression on our neighbors that in a short time we had remodeled a house directly across the street as well as the house next door," Paul says. In only four years Zahler's company has remodeled or built more than 55 homes in this one neighborhood (called the Gillette Regent Square) alone, changing the face of this prestigious north-of-Montana Avenue neighborhood.