On a corner lot atop Melrose Hill, the slight rise in elevation just east of the Larchmont Village neighborhood in Los Angeles, the Ridgewood Residence glows like a lantern. Its boxes of glossy wood are stacked into the typical geometry of a modern home, but here, large portions of the walls are sliced and shaved away on every side, allowing softly-lit views of the interior to filter out into the street. This openness and warmth is very symbolically a beacon, lighting the way for just how well modernism can fit within the context of a very traditional neighborhood. You can see just how well it works on the Eastside Home Tour at this year's Dwell on Design.
As architect and resident of the Ridgewood Residence, David Thompson would have none of the eight-foot hedges and thick-planked fences that many L.A. residences install in their best effort to keep wandering eyes out. "I want to express how the sensibility of the house and its openness really assists in strengthening the sense of community and neighborhood," he says. The house was always designed to be a statement for how the right modern house can--and should--become a change agent for an entire block.
The house was once a sad, neglected version of the other 1920s-era homes on the street when Thompson's wife Jamie discovered it. After moving in, they attempted at first to make minor adjustments from within, then realized it was a lost cause: They gave up and started from scratch. Stripping the house down to its foundation, but staying within the original footprint, the Thompsons began building their real dream home, always with its relationship to the neighborhood in mind, says Thompson. Sliding glass walls open to reveal entire rooms. Porches are made from carved-out spaces in the house. On the westward flank, a bright white wall dashed with orange horizontal lines is like a bright, pop-art mural for street traffic.
The house uses the same elements of warmth and wide-open spaces as many of Thompson's client projects at his firm Assembledge, where he is now at work on several residences in L.A., restaurants in Beverly Hills and Napa Valley, and offices for an apparel company on Melrose. Thompson, a child of architect parents himself, thinks that the house can be seen as evidence of his professional quest to always bring the outdoors inside. "I feel that the house is a strong example of my desire in residential living to link the interior and exterior and allow the entire site to be utilized as living space."
The entire Thompson family is eager to show visitors how well the house functions as a machine for living. Currently occupying the house are Thompson and his wife Jamie, who is a real estate broker, as well as their daughters Lyla (5 1/2) and Zoe (3), dog Marlee, and cat Little Bit. With the additions to his family since the house was finished in 2006, Thompson has made a few modifications, including planting a feathery olive tree in the front yard and revamping the backyard around its stunning outdoor element: A wide wooden platform deck above the garage that steps gradually down into the grassy yard.
The Ridgewood Residence is unique because it's one of the few houses on the home tours that's also one of 20 finalists for our Houses We Love contest, which we'll announce the winner of at Dwell on Design. (Don't forget you can still vote for your favorite!) For Thompson, a longtime fan of Dwell, one word describes his feeling about being named as a loved house. "Awesome!" he says. "We are very excited to be included in the company of so many amazing houses and it would be amazing if we were to win."
But it's also been thrilling to have the public embrace Thompson's most personal, yet outward-focused project that brings his attitudes toward living and community to life, he says. "I think this house is distinct reflection of my personality."
Register for the Westside Home Tour, Saturday June 26, or Eastside Home Tour, Sunday, June 27, as part of Dwell on Design, June 25-27 in Los Angeles. Be sure to buy your home tour tickets now as they will sell out. Register for Dwell on Design now!