Los Angeles architect Ray Kappe built a multilevel house for his family back in 1967, and the results still resonate today. Read Full Article
Ray Kappe relaxes in the central living space, which offers views onto other shared family zones. Behind him is a view down into his office. Half a level up, Shelly Kappe stands at the entrance to the upper family room.
Rail-free stairs are unnerving for a first-time visitor, but they amplify the home's free-flowing sense of space and structure. The stairs were built inside one of the six concrete towers, and they lead from the central living space to the front door. The experience of moving from the enclosed stairway into the expansive open family area is dramatic.
Ray sits at the central hearth on the north end of the comfortable sunken living area. From this perspective, you can see how the interior spaces flow into one another, passing one half-level up into the breakfast nook and kitchen and out from there onto the overgrown hillside. The various built-in furnishings have all been there since the house's construction.
In addition to wood and concrete, the other main material in the house is quarter-inch single-pane glass: No room is without a natural light source, whether from skylights, mitered corner windows, or clerestories, as in the old bedroom of the Kappes' son Finn. The paintings are by their other son, Ron.
This detail shows the conjunction of concrete with wooden beams, where flush glass windows angle outward to the canopies of nearby trees. The detail also encapsulates Ray's vision for the house: a synthesis of the rational and the intuitive.
Shelly walks along the perimeter of the house, near the central living area. The design of the house, with its many rooms, nooks, and open family spaces, "was so ahead of its time," Shelly says, "that, to young people coming here, it still feels contemporary."