April 06, 2011

Photo Essay: California Dream Homes

This past weekend, I had the rare opportunity to explore some private residences around Los Angeles that most people only get to see in books or magazines.

It was a charmed opportunity. I was in the right place at the right time. I knew the right people. I tagged along.

American architect John Lautner contributed greatly to the architecture of Los Angeles and beyond, starting in the 1930s as an apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, through the mid-century, and until his death in the 1990s.

Because many of them were built and have been maintained as private homes, few people have seen them in person, and even fewer from the inside.

Here's a glimpse at three of them:

Schaffer House (as seen in the film A Single Man)

Harpel House

Walstrom House

It's amazing that a house like the Schaffer House is currently on the market for $1.5 million, the equivalent of a tiny house in Park Slope, Brooklyn, and probably less than a decent Manhattan one bedroom.

These houses, built around oak trees, off the sides of cliffs, and at the top of steep hills are modern, lasting tributes to the California dream: making a place in this world where it seems too far, too unwelcoming, too difficult, too impossible. And even when they've lost their way - because of neglect, weathering, inappropriate additions and remodeling - they can still be returned to their original splendor, with enough care and attention.

For more photos from the John Lautner Foundation, click here.

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  1. OMG, those homes and the settings they're in are absolutely stunning, breathtaking. I could live there.

  2. I'd like to use a couple of your photos to illustrate a potential building lot, and what could be built on it?
    Please let me know if that would be acceptable?
    Martin Dorgan