Beautiful Modernist Estate in Hollywood


Aaron Kirman, president of Aaroe Estates, the luxury properties division of upscale residential brokerage John Aaroe Group, has listed a meticulously restored Hollywood Hills home by Richard Neutra for $3,500,000. Mr. Kirman also sold the 7960 Fareholm Drive property to its present owner in  2007.

Perched on a steep, raw Nichols Canyon hillside overlooking West Hollywood and the entire Los Angeles Basin (above and south of Laurel Canyon), this bright white, 3 bedroom, 2 bath, internationally styled residence was designed by famed Los Angeles architectRichard Neutra. It is the best example of this pre-war style, and Neutra claimed it to be his favorite house of that period. The house was designed and built for Los Angeles Examiner printer Joseph Kun, and finished in 1936. Today the Joseph Kun Residence stands as a designated cultural heritage monument of the City of Los  Angeles.

Reflecting the architectural, technological, and spatial vision that has made Neutra an icon of the Modernist movement for over 75 years, the Kun house was the first Neutra home with all-electric fixtures, and one of the first such homes in Los  Angeles.

The house also launched the career of world-renowned architectural photographer, Julius Shulman, whose amateur Kodak snapshots of the property (his first encounter with Modernist architecture) impressed Neutra and led to 26-year-old Shulman’s first professional  assignments.

Featured in the October 2014 issue of Dwell, the approx. 1732-square-foot, three-and-a-half story structure has horizontal bands of windows facing the LA Basin, framing sweeping views and bringing in strong, southern light via crystal clear, low-iron, UV protected glass. The steel-framed casements have been restored to original condition, an attention to detail featured throughout the  house.

The entrance begins at the top and steps downwards from open space on the top floor, where the foyer also allows access to a private, top-floor deck with an uninterrupted panorama of the city and the Pacific Ocean beyond. This large rooftop patio, together with wraparound decks on the other levels, are a Neutra signature, designed to blur the line between interior and outdoor  spaces.

The second level comprises the living room, dining room and kitchen, while the first, private level, houses two bedroom suites and an office/third bedroom with its own entrance via the service stairs, leading from street-level above, down to the kitchen and third private room (which has an en-suite  bathroom).

There is a spatial progression, from public to private, as one descends the levels of the house. Below the house, a beautiful, steep, garden descends towards West Hollywood. Full of color and exotic plants, a paved walkway, then landscaped path, leads down to a private meditation area by the timber bamboo which enclose most of the lower  property.

When Gerald Casale bought the house in 2007, he was determined to restore it to its original state.  The painstaking process took more than seven years, the first three spent researching, planning, and poring over the architectural archives at UCLA to make sure every detail was faithful to the 1936 design. It might be considered the most meticulous restoration of a Neutra house to  date.

The wood flooring was stripped and stained to its original color. Missing metal doors and all the built-ins and architectural details were painstakingly restored to 1936 standards. All post-30s material was removed and original and period fixtures were fabricated and found. The nickel and chrome detailing, which distinguishes between private and public space (a recurring theme in the house), or the period white, rare vitrolite glass in the kitchen and bathroom, show how painstakingly the restoration was carried out, down to the slotted screws of the outdoor  decks.

Much of the original cabinetry was preserved during the restoration; other pieces, such as the living room sofa, and king-sized master bed, were custom made in place according to the original plans of the  house.

Following the original philosophy of the house, an electric cooktop is built into the zinc countertop, and below is a contemporary oven. Up to date with all new, contemporary technologies of comfort and security, the Kun House is “thoroughly modern”. To preserve the kitchen’s original Minimalist look, the oven is concealed behind cabinet doors and the large refrigerator is hidden behind a cabinet panel.  A new, hidden, central HVAC system has been installed, and the original plumbing, and electrical, restored to contemporary  standards.

“Contemporary homes are avidly sought by today’s sophisticated buyers,” says Mr. Kirman. “Those designed by the world-renowned architects who created the Modernist style command a premium price. This home marks a milestone in Los Angeles architectural history, and it has been superbly and sensitively restored to Neutra’s original Modernist  vision.”

Mr. Kirman is renowned for his representation of some of the country’s most significant estate and architectural properties, including residences by Koenig, Schindler, Lautner, Lloyd Wright, Williams and the only Neimeyer in North America.  Mr. Kirman has represented such unique Southern California estates as Frank Lloyd Wright’s Ennis House, Richard Neutra’s Kauffman Residence, and Paul Williams’ Lions Gate.  During his career, Mr. Kirman has sold more than $2.5 billion of residential real estate to a group of select clients including billionaires, A-List celebrities, heads of industry, foreign investors and royalty.  While he specializes in exclusive properties from Beverly Hills to Malibu, he has represented buyers and sellers worldwide.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.