Palm trees and Pacific Ocean views aside, California’s spectacular midcentury-modern homes are one of its most memorable sights. Even though the style cropped up all over the U.S. during the middle part of the 20th century, the design vernacular’s emphasis on indoor-outdoor living has always been particularly well-suited to the Southern California climate. Today, the abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows and use of natural materials—like wood paneling and stone fireplaces often seen in such houses—continue to resonate. Below, we’ve selected some of the best midcentury-modern homes to be featured by AD in recent years. As you’ll soon find, each one displays a fresh contemporary take on a now classic style.
The Blink-182 bassist’s home base
Mark Hoppus knows music. After all, he’s one third of Blink-182, the pop-punk band which exploded in 1999 with hits like “What’s My Age Again?” and “All the Small Things,” and that—despite breakups, makeups, and member shake-ups—remains a prominent part of the millennial cultural lexicon. The bassist and singer did not know anything about the architect Harold “Hal” Levitt when shopping for a home in Los Angeles with his wife Skye Hoppus back in 2004. It was only after the couple fell in love with and purchased a midcentury-modern house by Levitt that they learned about his legacy.
“We lucked into this amazing architect that we didn’t really know anything about,” Mark tells AD. “We’re really happy to have fallen into that.” Nearly two decades later, after raising their 19-year-old son Jack in the home and holding onto it through a three-year stint in London, they’re still enamored with its abundance of windows and sweeping curves, including a round sunken den. What Skye never loved, however, was the home’s original rectangular terrazzo bathtubs. “While they looked stunning and were super interesting architecturally, they just were not comfortable,” she says. This desire for a more comfortable place to soak created a ripple effect. Finally, in 2015, Mark and Skye brought in Marmol Radziner to give the entire house a facelift. —Rachel Wallace
A California home with Italian style
The Los Angeles home of interior designer Giampiero Tagliaferri is an object lesson in the wonders of 20th-century Italian furniture and the affinities between Italian modernism and the midcentury-modern movement incubated in Southern California. Chockablock with treasures both familiar and obscure, the decor encompasses work by luminaries on the order of Gae Aulenti, Vico Magistretti, Joe Colombo, Osvaldo Borsani, Angelo Mangiarotti, Mario Bellini, and Ettore Sottsass, along with furnishings by important but lesser-known talents such as Cesare Leonardi, Franca Stagi, Gianni Celada, and Gianni Moscatelli.
Tagliaferri is something of an Italian treasure himself. Born in Bergamo, the dapper 38-year-old talent spent years in Milan working on marketing strategy and design for the fashionable eyewear brand Oliver Peoples. Six years ago, after being named creative director of the company, he relocated to L.A., where he oversaw the design of more than a dozen Oliver Peoples boutiques in the U.S., Europe, and Asia. “In college I studied business and industrial design, so I learned to approach business from a design perspective and vice versa. The Rome boutique was my first interiors project. It made me realize that interior design is where my true passions lie,” Tagliaferri says.
Although he continues to consult with Oliver Peoples, Tagliaferri recently left his position there to concentrate full-time on his newly minted interior design business, tackling residential and commercial assignments in the U.S. and abroad. Even more than the stores he’s created, Tagliaferri’s seductive home in L.A.’s Silver Lake neighborhood serves as the most compelling card for the designer’s urbane sensibility and incisive eye. Built in 1939 by architect E. Richard Lind, a protégé and colleague of the great Rudolph Schindler, the house synthesizes elements of early California modernism with more exotic, decorative inspirations garnered from far-flung locales. —Mayer Rus
The antithesis of a San Francisco Victorian
Nestled in the treetops of Presidio Terrace—a lush enclave on San Francisco’s western edge—sits a three-story and midcentury-modern house that is decidedly different from its neighboring Beaux Arts-, Mission Rival-, and Renaissance Villa-style homes. The house, with its sky-high perch, offers glorious views of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. “It doesn’t feel super San Francisco,” says Chloe Redmond Warner, founder and principal of Redmond Aldrich Design. “It’s three levels with skylights built into floors; it’s such a random, sexy, architectural move.”
Although the client—a recently separated father of four—loved the house, its views, and its location, the challenge was taking this modernist gem and making it cozy. What was most important to the owner and music enthusiast was providing a warm environment in which his children could feel at home. “We wanted to allow the midcentury-modern architecture to be the best version of itself—lots of white walls and big views—but to introduce it to a friend: a saturated, pattern-happy, colorful friend,” Redmond Warner says. —Emil Wilbekin
A house that’s truly out of the box
Before Joachim Rønning’s film Kon-Tiki was nominated for a Golden Globe and Academy Award, before he directed the fifth Pirates of the Caribbean, even before he married the activist Amanda Hearst, the Norwegian-born director had set his sights on a very different career path. “I was in my late teens when I first came across John Lautner’s work in a coffee table book, and it completely fascinated me,” Rønning says. “In fact I was so taken by his designs that before I was bitten by the movie bug, I was thinking of becoming an architect.” It would take a few more decades before Rønning and his wife would come across Lautner’s work again, but this time it would be to buy a home the influential architect had designed.
In 1961, John Lautner designed the West Hollywood home for interior designer and concert pianist Marco Wolff. For Lautner, who had apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1930s, the home was an opportunity to flex his creative muscles. What began as an arduous and almost vertical plot of land resulted in, perhaps, the acme of midcentury-modern residential architecture on the West Coast. With this home, Lautner leaned into the primal state of nature, demanding that his audience turn their preconceived notion of domesticity on its head. It was a bold statement of how humans once lived—among the trees, the rocks, perched atop a hill—and the architect stamped his thumbprint on it.
After moving into the home, Wolff added a guest house (also designed by Lautner) a decade later, before eventually selling the abode. What followed was a series of owners who added little in the way of elegance. That is until Rønning and Hearst Rønning purchased the property, when the stylish duo tapped architect and interior designer Clive Wilkinson to help bring their new home back to its former glory. —Nick Mafi
Midcentury structure, with minimalist accents
Jason Statham—hero of action-thriller films like the Fast & Furious franchise, Snatch, and The Transporter—may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of midcentury-modern design fanatics. But it takes only a few minutes of conversation with the actor to realize he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the movement’s design philosophies, major architects, and—most importantly—where to buy houses that fit the description. “Put me in a glass box, and I’ll be very happy,” he says and then laughs. “There’s just something really appealing about the symmetry and openness of things,” he says of the homes.
His eagle eye for midcentury fixer-uppers is was what first drew him to a house on Rising Glen Road in Los Angeles. “I’m always looking for places to either renovate or to buy, to move up the ladder,” Statham says. “This one sort of came out of the blue and had a certain charm. It was quite downtrodden and had been neglected, as most of these of midcenturies have.” Statham quickly decided to purchase the place and gut renovate it to serve as a multi-use property for guests, as well as his office and gym.
Working in concert with his longtime architect Jeff Allsbrook of Standard Architecture, Statham decided to keep as much of the existing shape of the exterior as possible, while outfitting the interior with top-of-the-line modern amenities. For the interior design, he worked with Courtney Applebaum to create a neutral palette of whites and earth tones, with texture in the form of leather couches and chairs, and sturdy wood tables and desks. —Juliet Izon
A one-of-a-kind L.A. landmark
In Mary Weatherford’s landmark midcentury-modern home in Los Angeles, art and architecture work hand in glove. “It’s a beautiful symphony of interwoven diagonals, verticals, and horizontals,” the artist says of the experimental structure, built in 1948 by architects A. Quincy Jones and Whitney R. Smith in collaboration with structural engineer Edgardo Contini and landscape designer Theodore Payne. “The restoration was like solving a puzzle. We had to figure out which piece of wood is which color, the elaborate interplay between the posts and beams with the floor and ceiling, how certain volumes and forms interact. In a lot of ways, the process was like making a painting in three dimensions,” Weatherford says.
The complexity and historical significance of the project perhaps explain the roughly four years it took to restore the modest 1,500-square-foot and two-bedroom structure. “Mary was obsessive about getting it right,” insists designer Oliver M. Furth, Weatherford’s partner throughout the odyssey of bringing the residence into the 21st century without compromising the architects’ bold experiment in structural and experiential innovation. “She invested huge amounts of time and energy in the service of being a faithful steward of this property. As much as she wanted to honor its past, she wanted to secure its future,” he says. —Mayer Rus