This home has one bedroom and one bathroom. The most advanced appliance in the house is a refrigerator that’s little more than a plug-in icebox.
The twin single beds remind one of a 1950s television stage set.
The interior space covers just a little over 1,200 square feet – about the size of a respectable condo.
It’s outdated, impractical and anachronistic.
And yet, this might be one of the most elegantly modern properties you’ll come across.
The very core of modern design was a response to decorative excess. What Schindler, Neutra and a host of others introduced to the world was the idea that the purely functional could be beautiful in its own way. All the faux columns, archways and grand entrances was simply elitist baggage, unnecessary and anti-democratic.
And so began the style that we refer today as mid-century.
Inevitably, the old conceits returned.
More and more, modern homes around the LA hillsides are beginning to resemble the palaces they were meant to replace. Back are the imposing spaces, exotic materials and latest techno-wonders.
Unlike the high tech steel and glass boxes that are so fashionable these days, The Mary and Lee Blair Residence and Studio is spare and modern without feeling cold. Nestled in a grove of elderly oak trees, the home is a little hard to spot from the street. The wood siding and balanced proportions blend gracefully into the hillside.
The property was designed by architects Harwell Hamilton Harris in 1939 for Disney artist Mary Blair and her husband Lee. Blair had a hand in Disney classics such as Cinderella, Peter Pan, and Alice in Wonderland.
Like a bespoke suit, this home was designed and built to fit the precise contours of a distinct lifestyle.
This is an artist’s retreat. By far the best room in the house is the studio at the top. The picture windows and skylights fill the loft-like space with soft warm sunlight. Built in 1939, it’s clear that this home was conceived in a time when an artist’s life was still considered a romantic quest.
However, in the years following the Blair’s ownership various “improvements” were added. The kitchen was expanded and a second bedroom was added. While these additions may have modernized the house, they also destroyed the original character and spirit of the home.
Thankfully, the current owner undertook a long-term restoration that has brought back the magic of the original structure. Every detail from linoleum tiles to the smallest fixture has been painstakingly replaced to recreate the original vision.
I can’t say for sure if the restoration is historically accurate. But it certainly feels like it.
Offered at $1,600,000.
Listing and photos courtesy Crosby Doe and Crosby Doe Associates.