An Architect Couple’s Former Home Lists for $1.8M in Los Angeles

Designed by architects Linda Pollari and Robert Somol in 2001, the recently updated Off Use House features floor-to-ceiling glass doors that connect the primary living spaces to a Palm Springs–inspired backyard.
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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 Off Use House was designed by architects Linda Pollari and Robert Somol as their personal residence in Los Angeles in 2001. The overhanging steel roof elevates the home’s modern flair.

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."

Inside, an entry hallway leads to the main living areas. "We were immediately drawn to the open floor plan that places the kitchen in the heart of the house," says current owner Olivia Berkus.

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.

High-end, stainless-steel appliances complement the metal cabinetry lining the wall. An elongated countertop presents plenty of space for meal preparation.

"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.

A stacked-stone accent wall anchors the dining area located just steps from the kitchen.

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.

"There is no question that one of the most distinguishable features of this home is the expansive length," says current owner Kelson Berkus. "Standing in the entry, there is a nearly 100-foot interior view down a corridor spanning from the front of the house all the way through to a floor-to-ceiling glass wall in the primary suite."

"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."

Floor-to-ceiling Fleetwood sliding doors connect the primary suite to the backyard.

The  home’s two bathrooms have been fully remodeled and come with all-new fixtures.

Polished concrete floors continue throughout the home.

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.

"We’ve loved the indoor/outdoor lifestyle this home provides," note the couple. "Opening the sliding glass doors creates a seamless extension of the overall living space."

The fortress-like rear facade serves as a buffer against the city’s hustle and bustle. 

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.

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