Situated on the upper edge of a "mini-eucalyptus arroyo," this remodeled home in the exclusive Brentwood area of Los Angeles California, has, over the course of two major additions designed by the same architect within 15 years, evolved from a quaint 2000sf English cottage into a 6000sf warm, modern and sustainable family home … all the while maintaining the intimacy of the 1948 cottage.
In 2000, the owners sought to have a home in a nice Los Angeles neighborhood wherein they could raise their burgeoning family. The owners purchased a 1948 2000sf, single story, 2-bedroom English Cottage styled home (believed to have been originally owned by Yul Brynner) on a ½ acre hillside site, sloping downward away from the rear of the home, overlooking a mini eucalyptus arroyo. The owners loved their new location but were soon faced-with having to raise their new and growing family on a hillside with extremely limited yard spaces for children to play and in a location where nature is very close – deer as well as coyotes wander the arroyo.
The owners commissioned architect Richard Best to add 2500sf to the cottage and transform it into a home more fitting to their growing family’s needs. Subsequently, in 2014/15, the owners again commissioned Richard to create a 2-story master suite addition. Living in or visiting the completed project - the original 1948 home remodeled + the 2000 addition + the 2014/15 addition, one goes through an unexpected and delightful experience as the spaces of the home “unfold” to reveal intimacy and environmental immersion.
It was important to Richard and to the owners that their remodels and additions be appropriately designed to fit into the neighborhood and have the feel, scale, and soul of the original cottage. With this in-mind, Richard has interpreted the design intentions of the original cottage - “modernizing” the architectural vocabulary and creating open-plan, 2-story additions which promote site “engagement” at various floor levels and openness to the outdoors in a manner clearly inspired by the original cottage, yet modern.
At the front door of the original (still remains as it was) 1948 structure, one is presented with a quaint a low-slung entry which establishes a very comfortable sense of scale. Inside, the remodeled spaces of the original cottage exude comfort and a cozy sensibility evoked by the reuse of the original home’s exposed timber framing structure, open-plan circulation, and an inventive two-sided steel fireplace which acts as a room divider between the living room and a home office. Accordion wood doors connect these rooms to a newly formed outdoor rear patio. At this point one also gets ones first hint that something very interesting is happening just beyond – a glimpse of the 2000 & 2014/15 additions.
Moving from the original 1948 structure into the 2-story 2000 addition, one is greeted by a modern and open linear floor plan arrangement – a kitchen, casual dining and family room extend perpendicularly from the 1948 structure into the rear yard and down the hillside. The open framed cathedral ceiling and wood roof trusses establish a lofty feeling and a rhythm discretely separating the open rooms one from the other. Extensive use of windows and French doors connect the indoors to the outdoors and provide abundant natural lighting. This new appendage ends with a symmetrical family room which has no corners – it is a geometry composed of two overlapped squares - one rotated 45 degrees atop the other to create double opportunities for bay windows. The design not only connects the home to the desired exterior flat yards spaces, but it also takes full advantage of the sloping terrain by adding a floor below the original level so as to maintain a scale appropriate to the neighborhood. The exterior materials were chosen taking “hints” from the original 1948 structure – natural redwood siding, reused brick veneer and wood doors/windows all serving to aesthetically connect the addition back-to the spirit of the original structure.
By 2014/15 the owners’ family has fully blossomed - the children are now teenagers and there is a need for additional space. However, the owners are very content with their remodeled cottage and Richard’s 2000 addition – unsure how to add to a home which they feel is quite perfect as it is … wanting whatever changes are to be made to be sympathetic to it. They are also concerned about potential additions blocking-out their views of the eucalyptus arroyo. The owners approached Richard with trepidation – we love our perfect house but we need it to be a bit bigger and we don’t want to block-out the arroyo views or create a hemmed-in feeling – how can we add but still see the arroyo.
In response Richard created a private yet connected 1,150 square foot, 2-story master suite, which by its positioning, dynamic geometries and extensive glazing create the fourth side of the former rear patio, making it into exterior courtyard with views around and through the new addition into the arroyo. A dynamic angularity in the new master addition (inspired by the 2000 addition) simultaneously reduces the apparent size/presence of the master suite addition on the edge of the eucalyptus arroyo while creating framed views into the arroyo from the newly formed courtyard. The new master suite - a master bathroom, master closet and a master sleeping loft each having exterior decks and/or patios, is connected back to the 2000 addition via a glazed hallway which provides a sense of connectedness and privacy. A modern rustic aesthetic of exposed board-formed concrete, natural finished Corten steel exterior cladding, frameless metal windows, and clear finished Douglas Fir planks serve to “extend” the soul of the original cottage into the master suite.
The project is a highly sustainable design as well. Energy use is reduced by employing a high efficiency heat pump heating and cooling system, dual paned/gasketed metal window/door systems, natural lighting through a Kalwall skylight and generous exterior glazing with extensive eaves for shading, rigid roof insulation, and earthen backing – the lower floor is up-against the hillside which tends to even-out the day/night temperature differential.
Architecture & Interior Design: Richard Best Architect Inc.
Structural Engineering: Dan Echeto & David Choi Associates
Interior Decor: Noelle Schoop
Landscape: Connie Heitzman
General Contractor: Louk Enterprises, Inc.
Photos: Carmel McFayden and Adriano Sarmento / James Porschen