You Won't Be Calling This House a "Man Cave"

By Rico Gagliano
A Hollywood bungalow reinvents the bachelor pad.
Bill Thompson’s Hollywood home exudes modern cool with a custom walnut dining table and chairs from Modernica.

Bill Thompson’s Hollywood home exudes modern cool with a custom walnut dining table and chairs from Modernica.

When Bill Thompson decided to buy a house in Los Angeles, he wasn’t out to find, as he puts it, "a macho place." A mechanical engineer who developed a taste for modern design after an early gig working for an architectural and engineering firm, Thompson yearned mainly for a spare, simple space of his own. Really simple and really spare: The first property he bid on was being used as a Buddhist monastery.

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A series of Douglas fir slats was applied above the fireplace.

A series of Douglas fir slats was applied above the fireplace.

That deal fell through, though, so Thompson elected to gut and redesign a circa-1916 Hollywood bungalow instead. And as he worked with his architect, what eventually emerged was a home that was simultaneously sophisticated, inviting—and clearly for a guy. "Now that I think about it, that’s always what I was after," says Thompson, a 35-year-old bachelor. "But because the design didn’t have to be negotiated with a girlfriend or a wife, I didn’t really think of it as ‘masculine.’ It felt like I was creating my space." The 1,800-square-foot house leavens a clean brand of modernism with a pinch of turn-of-the-20th-century social club; it’s the kind of man cave that Julius Shulman would have loved.

The sofa is from Cantoni, the rug is from Restoration Hardware, and the Tolomeo floor lamp is by Michele De Lucchi for Artemide. The large windows in the background and throughout the house are from Western Window Systems.

The sofa is from Cantoni, the rug is from Restoration Hardware, and the Tolomeo floor lamp is by Michele De Lucchi for Artemide. The large windows in the background and throughout the house are from Western Window Systems.

Bill Thompson sits on his deck.

Bill Thompson sits on his deck.

Noah Walker, head of the full-service architectural firm Walker Workshop Design Build, designed and rebuilt the house with input from Thompson in 2009. Walker had recently been laid off from the famed prefab firm Marmol Radziner, and this house was the first design-build project of his new company. Midway through a tour of the place, Walker grins and says, "Definitely a single guy lives here." To prove it, he cracks open the refrigerator. Nearly empty shelves showcase a 12-pack of Coors, some Diet Cokes, and a bottle of Jägermeister.