In 2001, architects Linda Pollari and Robert Somol designed a house for themselves at 950 South Highland Avenue in Los Angeles’s Brookside neighborhood. With its long, horizontal rear facade oriented to the street, the corrugated metal– and concrete-clad home, known as Off Use House, opens up to a large, kidney-shaped pool and a Palm Springs–inspired backyard.
The distinctive dwelling was recently updated by the current owners, Kelson and Olivia Berkus, who purchased the property in 2020. "Every home you want to make your own, but this house has a spirit and design story we felt like we were already a part of," says Kelson. "Rather than replacing elements, we asked ourselves how our additions could extend the concept."
The design-oriented couple—Kelson being the grandson of renowned architect Barry Berkus—modernized the 1,815-square-foot interior by overhauling the kitchen and enhancing the home’s indoor/outdoor connection. The residents added a full-height, vertical-plank wooden fence to separate the carport from the backyard. "This served as a continuing element of an interior wall in the architects’ original plans," says Kelson.
"We could have easily leaned into the midcentury aesthetic but opted to infuse the house with contemporary furnishings; kind of a ‘new-century modern’ approach to honor the era but embrace the now," Kelson adds.
In total, the residence offers three bedrooms, two of which the current owners converted from the original architects’ former studio. The primary suite sits nestled at one end of the layout and opens up to the spacious backyard, as well as to the open-plan living spaces at the center of the home. Floor-to-ceiling Fleetwood sliding doors connect the interior to the pool area and landscaped yard, which runs the length of the residence.
"We wanted our backyard to feel like an oasis in the city," Kelson says. "Inspired by the idea of Palm Springs in Los Angeles, we surrounded the classic white penny-tile decking with California Gold gravel and a mixture of drought-tolerant plants anchored by a modern concrete fountain."
The home offers easy access to popular Los Angeles areas including the Griffith Observatory, Laurel Canyon, and the Hollywood Hills. "The Hancock-adjacent neighborhood is always peaceful and quiet," says Olivia, continuing: "We find ourselves enjoying long walks in every direction, admiring the surrounding homes and estates." Scroll ahead to see more of the Los Angeles property, currently listed for $1,795,000.
950 South Highland Avenue in Los Angeles, California, is currently listed for $1,795,000 by Brian Linder and Rick Grahn of The Value of Architecture, an affiliate of Compass.
Know of a home for sale or rent that should be featured on Dwell.com? Find out how to submit to Dwell.
Get the Real Estate Newsletter
From midcentury classics to the best contemporary spaces for sale, see the latest listings for modern homes on the market around the world.