Dominique is as French as a woman can be, though she was born in Los Angeles (she does speak fluent French with no accent). Her parents, Lise and Raymond, immigrated to Los Angeles from the Champagne region of France in 1961. The classic “two suitcases and a couple hundred bucks” story. Raymond was trained as a pastry chef in France. In 1962 he and Lise opened “Paris Pastry” bakery in Westwood, CA (just South of UCLA). This establishment lasted 50 years in the same location and became very well know for its quality.
Dominique grew up on LA’s West Side. She went to high school at Marymount Los Angeles. She then graduated with a degree in Design from the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in LA (FIDM). All the while she worked at Paris Pastry, as well other jobs in fashion. For a year she lived in Paris and worked for Lolita Lempicka. One of the most memorable years of her life.
Later on Dominique worked for Beau Sejour, a furniture maker and design house in West LA. This is where she really honed her interior design skills, and also learned the process of building custom homes. With a keen interest in architecture, Dominique took classes in CAD, and learned to design and draw her own homes, exactly to her vision.
All this experience prepared her to go into business for herself in 2014, with her husband (me). Dominique and Gustave formed De Bilt, Inc. and we built four custom homes in the Los Angeles South Bay from 2014 – 2018.
Gustave, that’s me. I am Dutch by birth, though I am now a naturalized U.S. Citizen (I speak Dutch and French, though both are a bit rusty). My parents were from the area of Utrecht, in Holland. My mother spent most of her childhood years in a town named De Bilt. I was born in Surinam, which is in South America (just North of Brazil). My father was a construction engineer, and was working there to build a dam and hydroelectric power station.
When I was 2 years old we moved to the U.S. where my father worked for Alcoa. We lived in DC, West Virginia and Ohio, before moving to Marin County North of San Fransisco, where my father began work for Bechtel.
For a time I lived in London, the South of France, and Sydney Australia, where I finished high school at Christian Brothers, Manly. Then four more years in Marin County, subsequently to San Diego for Junior College, then off to UCLA, where I eventually graduated with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering. In my life I have lived in, or visited, 31 countries.
When I graduated UCLA in 1997 my professor threw a party, as he commonly did. Since his son was married to Dominique’s sister, she invited Dominique to the party. “Not all those boring engineers!” she said. But she was convinced to come and see her 1 year old niece, Michelle. I was one of the first guests to arrive at the party, and when I walked in and saw Dominique, well it was absolutely love at first sight. When I got her phone number that first night she told me “call in 24 hours or don’t call at all”. Well that was a new one for me, and I loved it. We’ve not been apart since.
After UCLA I worked in Aerospace for a time, then moved to DIRECTV. I worked there for 13 years, both on satellites and launching rockets. Eventually I transferred over to work on the antenna (dish) that mounts to people’s homes. I was awarded 11 U.S. patents for my contributions in this area. But by 2013 the politics of working for a big corporation were really getting to me. And so in 2014 Dominique and I started De Bilt, to construct homes. Still our dream of living outside of the city was calling. We finally heeded that call in 2018 – took the plunge, liquidated all our assets and moved to Paso Robles. We could not be happier. Read about our Pinky Swear, which started this journey.