This was my first house feature I ever did and I think it's still my favourite. After all these years the home is still as seductive as when I went there. It really shows when designing not to follow trends but aim for over the top grandeur and you will have a home that will forever wow your visitors.
"LA is a sexy place. If you are going to live here, you want a sexy house" says Steven Silverstein, in his native Los Angeles accent. "Somewhere that puts you in the mood to have a drink - to have a party. You know what I am saying?"
Steven, a semi-retired fashion photographer and his Texan wife Gina, gave themselves the unthinkable time frame of one week to find a Fifties Modern house to purchase when they moved back to the United States from Paris.
Their agent, a former Rodeo Drive haridresser, found them a 1958 classic by architect Richard Dorman which was completely out of the, couples price range. But the pressing time frame and 'love at first sight' prompted them to seal the deal. Today it's a place that has recaptured a romantic age of cocktail parties and the silver screen.
The house was built as one of the first show homes in this exclusive area, high in the hills above Hollywood, just off Mullholland Drive. These dwellings gave many movie stars, film directors and LA socialites their first taste of life in a modern home. Its striking roof, which swoops down from seven metres at its apex to just 1.5 metres at other corners, is all that can be seen over the boundary wall, but on the other side, three walls of glass means the boundary between indoors and the green canyon below with its deer, raccoons and coyotes, vanishes. It's the nuances of different light here that Steven loves.
The mostly original interior includes turquoise splashed on redwood, mosaic double-sided fireplace, natural wood built cabinetry and Fifties light fittings. "The reason why we fell in love with this house is because it was unchanged, it was pure. We were taken aback," says Gina. "Dorman visited us which has made us really respect the house. He said it was his favourite project".
"Although we were cautious not to change the original colour schemes, there was a little too much turquoise in this house for our taste," admits Gina. The couple decided to sand down the kitchen counter top and the wood panel walls in the den, just leaving a trace of the colour in the wall's grooves. The original mosaics in the bathroom were repaired and a new slate floor put down in the bedroom. Even the Fifties black lino tiles were retained and waxed to a sheen. "We are both preservationists at heart," she says. "I think people rush into doing up homes to quickly".
Antique stores in LA and Dallas were scoured to find furniture by
"Because the house has nostalgia, it felt only right to have furniture and accessories that had contemporary clean lines and bold colours to match the preiod," says Gina.
Guests who don't want the couple's infamous Hollywood parties to end are drawn to the kitchen in the early hours of the morning. The kitchen, a cocoon in the middle of the house, is lined with rich timber. It is the only room that is sheltered from the windows overlooking the San Fernando Valley.
The Silverstein's honesty to the period could have made their interior predictable but the couple's fun choice of colour and mixture of old and new have made it unpretentious and full of character.
Steven has always had a love affair with Fifties and Sixties glamour. "I grew up in LA. I grew up with cars with fins. I saw turquoise mixed with white and colourful interiors. This way of living is in me from my childhood," he says. At 223 square metres it is small but, he says, "Who needs a McMansion to be happy? I have always dreamt about living in a house like this".
All pictures by photographer Richard Powers