The seventh house in the Arts & Architecture Case Study program was built with real clients in mind: a family of three with creative hobbies. The result, designed by Thornton M Abell, is a flexible home with a distinctive functional character.
The house divides neatly into three separate areas: to the left of the entrance, working spaces make up nearly half of the full floorplan, with living and sleeping areas off to the right and extending forward into the garden. Sliding panels between the roomy central reception/dining area and the cozy living room create the option of privacy or extra space, as required, with the terrace and splash pool beyond offering further possibilities for summer entertaining. A small planting area beside the sliding door blurs the line between indoors and out.
Behind a door is a small corridor connecting to the two bedrooms and shared bathroom. This area is separated from the living space with a masonry wall (not the wood that forms other indoor walls in this house), ensuring quiet. Each bedroom enjoys floor-to-ceiling wood-framed glass walls that open onto the back terrace.
It’s in the working spaces that the family’s specific needs can be seen. More sliding panels to the left of the entrance open onto a study that can double as a guest room, with a series of utility rooms beyond connecting to the kitchen. At least one of those rooms would have been put to use as a darkroom for the father’s photography hobby, but viewed as a kitchenette and with the attached WC/shower room, that study/guest room also becomes a fully self-contained guest flatlet.
The kitchen itself is pleasantly sociable, with a sunny breakfast nook and a door leading to a large enclosed and shaded dining terrace. With two storerooms placed beside that terrace and next to the garage, this outdoor area adds significantly to the usable living space of the house, at least in good weather—but then, this is southern California.
While so many Case Study designs exploited a stunning location with dramatic views, this house was built on a flat plot with no view. But it did of course still benefit from lashings of LA sunlight. Built in the typical Midcentury Modern style, Abell’s affinity for light shows itself in the vast picture windows and glass sliding doors so prevalent in the program, as well as in a central skylight—Abell loved a glass roof—creating a light well for the living area; a different approach to the same familiar West Coast preoccupation of “bringing the outside inside.”
He used a cool color scheme (with teal, green and grey paint, cement floors and natural birch wood) to reflect light and balance the hot Californian climate, and surrounded the outside areas with louvred wooden fences. Take a walk through Archilogic’s 3D model and enjoy the sense of light throughout this home.