In Los Angeles, a Streamline Moderne With a Modernist Addition Asks $2M

A cantilevered, enclosed walkway connects a boxy add-on with the Estes Residence, a 1935 design in the Hollywood Hills by William Kesling.
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Actor Judd Nelson, perhaps best known for his role in The Breakfast Club as bad boy John Bender, is rumored to have once occupied this L.A. residence. But what makes the home truly unique is that it was designed by renowned Southern California architect William Kesling right after he founded his own firm. Kesling went on to design more streamline moderne structures than any other architect, a collection that includes the Vanderpool and Skinner residences in the Silver Lake neighborhood.

The facade of the Hollywood Hills residence features stucco, green trim, and curving shapes, exuding a whimsical yet iconic aesthetic.

A dedicated dining area offers plenty of space to enjoy a meal.

Nestled in the Cahuenga Pass neighborhood, the home is now owned by trauma surgeon Edward Kwon, who was impressed deeply when he first visited Kesling’s design. The house "commands attention as you approach it, standing proudly on its small summit like a dirigible floating above Los Angeles," Edward says. "The main windows are definitely one of the most obvious features, eyes wide open staring at the hills."

Steel casement bay windows in the living room are original to the home, and a focal point from both inside and outside of the house.

With generous glazing, a breakfast nook alongside the kitchen offers a bright space for a casual bite.

Reflecting the curved corner lot it sits on, the meticulously preserved residence is teeming with rounded forms as well as Art Deco details. It holds many of Kesling’s signatures, like curvilinear steel casement bay windows in the living room. The facade is swathed in stucco outlined with green trim, mirroring a lush lawn below. At just over 2,000 square feet, the home, which includes hardwood floors and a sprawling flagstone fireplace, includes three bedrooms and three bathrooms.

The galley kitchen features counters with rounded corners that unfurl into long, horizontal lines, adding to the effect of Kesling’s approach.

An abundance of natural light filters in from a series of floor-to-ceiling windows.

Edward goes on to point out the home’s references to the transportation revolution and the industrial age: The front facade, the windows, and the galley kitchen are designed in the likeness of an ocean liner, and streamlined, horizontal lines are found throughout the interiors. Even renovations performed in the ’80s stay true to the home’s intent. "The main bathroom, with its Roman tub, glass bricks, and skylight, retain the sentiment found in the remaining Keslings in Los Angeles," says Edward.

A large flagstone fireplace anchors the living room, reflective of the era of the home.

On the other side of the dining area, two French doors open to a creative sanctuary or office.

As someone with a strong appreciation for modernist architecture, Edward found the home’s addition equally captivating. Built in 2002 by Jeff and Rochelle Mills of architecture firm Mills Studio, it was meant to encapsulate the vision of the previous owner who had requested an auxiliary space in the style of a tree house.

To complement Kesling’s style, it was designed to capture an abundance of natural light with a series of elements: ample glass, skylight lanterns, plastic moldings, and light portals on top and underneath it. Creature comforts include a wet bar, an outdoor hot tub with direct access to the bathroom, and a roof deck with built-in benches. Surrounding the structure is a yard filled with jacaranda trees.

Straight lines and glass bricks cover the bathroom, illuminated by a skylight.

Another wraparound window brings natural light into one of the bedrooms.

No old home comes without its need for updates, though, and Edward made quite a few while staying true to Kesling’s vision. "I am a believer in sustainability and dislike the idea of expendability. I prefer to maintain, preserve, and update in order to maximize longevity," he says.

Los Angeles-based Alpha Structural was brought in to reinforce and repair the foundation, which helped level the floors. The main electrical conduit and panel were updated to accommodate modern living, and a gut renovation was performed in the downstairs accessory dwelling unit (ADU) atop a new slab.

The modernist add-on is complete with built-in wood cabinets, concrete, and polished metal.

To make the addition feel like a modern tree house, Mills Studio prioritized an abundance of natural light and views of the outdoors.

The ADU, Edward explains, was designed as a continuation of the transition from streamline moderne to modernist. It includes vivid tile by Heath Ceramics in the shower and kitchen, Fleetwood windows, and Schoolhouse hardware on custom cabinetry. The bathroom sink he sourced from Rejuvenation, while a Fisher & Paykel stove completes the kitchen.

The backyard presents a lush oasis, prime for al fresco dining.

The roof deck atop the studio, complete with built-in benches, provides another space to relax.

While he has taken great pride in paying homage to the home’s design, after four years of living there, he’s decided it’s time to downsize. "I realized that I have been using a fraction of the [home] and feel that it should be celebrated and used by an individual or individuals who would be able to utilize and enjoy it in its entirety." Scroll on to see more of the Hollywood time capsule, now listed at $2M.

The bottom level connects to the garden, maximizing indoor/outdoor living.

The add-on is bathed in natural light from an abundance of windows.

The bathroom is swathed in green tile by Heath Ceramics.

The hot tub has direct access to bathroom to the shower, which opens to the outdoors.

The backsplash is also finished in tile by Heath Ceramics. The range is from Fisher & Paykel.

While the two structures represent two different styles—streamline moderne and modernist—they are designed to compliment each other in a seamless flow.

3817 Broadlawn Drive in Hollywood, California is currently listed for $2,098,000 by Julia Allos.

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