Like so many L.A. stories, the tale of the Courtyard House begins with a lucky break. One day in 2001, Thomas Robertson got a call from a friend he hadn’t seen in ages. The friend told him that his elderly aunt needed companionship in her twilight years, and that she owned an empty lot in a posh West Los Angeles neighborhood. Would Tom like to design a home they could live in together? “I thought he was joking,” Robertson recalls. And just like that, he had his first house commission.