A Renovation Elevates This Humble Ranch Among its Iconic Midcentury Neighbors

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By Jeanee Ledoux / Published by Dwell
An architect immersed in the history of California modernism restored a nondescript Los Angeles ranch house bordering a celebrated midcentury neighborhood.

Midcentury enthusiast Margaret Riley purchased a 1957 ranch with little panache or pedigree, but a plum location just two doors down from Crestwood Hills, the Los Angeles cooperative development revered for its wealth of A. Quincy Jones masterpieces. 

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As the author of Crestwood Hills: The Chronicle of a Modern Utopia, Cory Buckner was the ideal architect to transform a nondescript ranch nearby the beloved midcentury neighborhood. The new butterfly roof, redwood tongue-and-groove siding, and vertical louvers help the updates feel original to the period.

Riley’s one-story home had comparably little going for it, beyond a pleasing L-shaped floor plan and a large, wooded lot, so, in 2008, she hired architect Cory Buckner to devise an addition and remodel inspired by the icons nearby. Drawing upon her experience restoring homes in Crestwood Hills and research on A. Quincy Jones, Buckner chose design elements to fit the local palette. 

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The second-story addition has a view of the Santa Monica Bay. Electronically controlled aluminum slats by LouverTech filter street noise and sunlight.

The renovation added a second floor, butterfly roof, redwood siding, vertical louvers, Douglas fir ceilings, elm built-ins, and sliding glass doors–all of which appear original. Rattigan Construction did the build, then interior designer Gillian Lefkowitz stepped in to combine Riley’s vintage furnishings with modern classics.

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Riley sprinkled the home with beloved vintage finds, such as the Danish chairs and turquoise lamps. She tasked interior designer Gillian Lefkowitz with sourcing new companion furnishings, like the coffee table custom-built by David Albert Design and rug from Mansour Modern.

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Pistachio green cabinetry is the focal point of the eat-in kitchen, so Blizzard countertops by Caesarstone and white tile by Ann Sacks are quiet complements. For casual meals, the family gathers in the nook, featuring a tulip-style table by ModShop, a custom upholstered banquette by Johannes Interiors, and a Caboche chandelier by Foscarini.

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In the dining room, Saarinen chairs upholstered in white leather surround an earthy walnut table by Seventh and 7th Designs. Nubby hemp curtains offset the glamour of the ’70s chandelier. The Blumoon painting is by Mary Heilmann.

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With its sloped Douglas fir ceiling, expansive glass, and elm built-ins crafted by Wolf Melian, the upstairs study resembles a Crestwood Hills classic. Case Study sofas that double as guest beds meet the client’s request for convertible space. The rug from Amadi Carpets, pillows sewn from vintage Swedish fabric, and painting by Sylvan Lionni inject red into the earthy palette.

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In the entryway, a brass Sputnik chandelier illuminates the airy American elm staircase.

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The enlarged master bedroom, which overlooks the backyard, features a bed and nightstands by David Albert Design, pillows by Madeline Weinrib, a Tibetan rug from Amadi Carpets, and Saarinen’s Womb chair and ottoman.

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Using sliding glass to dissolve boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces is a hallmark of Crestwood Hills homes. Landscape designer Jay Griffith chose native plants for the patio beds and containers.

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Branched aluminum dining chairs by Janus et Cie reference what Buckner calls the “magical forest” protecting the rear of the 13,000-square-foot lot.