Tour a 1930s Silver Lake Home That’s Now an Ode to Iconic Sea Ranch Modernism
California’s modernist utopia was the main inspiration for the home.
If you’re an architecture buff, you most likely know about Sea Ranch, the residential community that was built in the 1960s along a 10-mile stretch on the Northern California coast. It’s a modernist utopia, with the homes fitting seamlessly into the beautiful landscape, and featuring wood siding and sloping roofs. The architectural style has been the inspiration for many homes, including musician Drew Straus’s recently renovated 1930s home in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles.
Originally a 1,300-square-foot ranch-style home, it was in serious need of a refresh. “It had a lot of deferred maintenance and there were some issues with the layout,” explains Rachel Bullock, who oversaw the project through her L.A.-based architecture, furniture, and interiors studio, LAUN. “There were two bedrooms with closets that opened into the other rooms, so privacy was lacking. Luckily, the site itself was incredible so we knew there was so much potential for this property. It has sweeping views of the city and the lot had terraced levels that could be used for the garden and the pool.”
So with that potential in mind, Bullock and her team took cues from the modernist Sea Ranch ethos, rooting the renovation design in the unique topography of the home’s site. That idea was also in line with Straus’s vision for his house. “Drew wanted a soothing, sophisticated, but dynamic material palette in keeping with the spirit of Silver Lake,” Bullock says. “There is an ethos of warm minimalism mixed with a sense of craft and handmade details throughout the home, which has also been designed to maximize its panoramic views of Los Angeles while retaining a sense of privacy.” Ultimately, the space was expanded to 1,900 square feet with three bedrooms and three bathrooms.
For the exteriors, Bullock and team used a lot of natural materials. Straus selected Alaskan Cedar cladding and a new copper roof, for example, which will develop a beautiful deep brown patina over time. “We did not originally plan to replace the roof but after demolition it became clear that there was some strange framing above the ceiling,” she says. “This gave us the opportunity to raise the roof height and add the lovely exposed beams seen throughout the main floor.”
Inside, the layout was changed and optimized to showcase the beautiful views outside. “The upper level has been transformed into an open-plan kitchen-dining-living area that sits alongside an existing covered porch with views to the West,” Bullock says. “The living room roof was replaced with open beams; hemlock interior ceilings and kitchen millwork extend the natural palette alongside white oak floors and create a sense of warmth. Open-plan living is balanced with discrete ‘zones’ for living, dining, and kitchen areas that were delineated by strategically placed millwork and shelving.” And a small enclosed porch off the kitchen became a dining nook, which is now one of Straus’s favorite places to hang out.
An addition was created for the bedroom wing, and two existing smaller bedrooms made way for a big primary suite that features sweeping views. “The primary bath is one of my favorite spaces. It has a custom-glazed and hand-painted tile installation that Straus commissioned by the L.A.-based artist Sara Bright,” Bullock says. “The process of designing the space to highlight Sara’s work and collaborating closely with the client and artist, was definitely a highlight that resulted in a very special private space that is not only serene and functional but has a site-specific, one-of-a-kind art work. We love working with our clients to commission local makers and artists to create a very personal and custom piece in each of our projects.”
The lower level has another bedroom, but that floor is mostly a creative space for Straus with a recording studio and office. Large wood windows in those rooms create a connection with the terraced backyard and lap pool outside.
While the main palette of the home is mostly neutral with white and wood, there are some playful moments of color, like the front door that Straus sourced on eBay, which was painted a bright cobalt blue, plus the vintage living room furniture, yellow tiling in the bathroom, and bright hardware sourced from Spinardi di Milano. “Straus is a collector of art and ceramics; he loves design and sourcing vintage and contemporary pieces for his home,” Bullock explains. “Vintage furniture, rugs, and artwork passed down from Straus’ grandmother fill the space and our job was to provide a subtle backdrop for these more vibrant moments to shine.”
It’s no surprise that Straus is happy with the renovation. “Drew loves the calmness of the finished space and the way the home has been designed to take advantage of its incredible views of the city,” Bullock adds. “He works on his music from his lower level studio and has found a lot of inspiration living among its natural materials and indoor/outdoor living.”