Thursday, May 31, 2007

Michael LaFetra's Modernist Masterpiece in Brentwood

SELLER: Michael LaFetra
LOCATION: Elkins Road, Brentwood, CA
PRICE: $3,995,000
SIZE: 3,108 square feet, 3 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms
DESCRIPTION: Rich House Residence 1967. Restored to its purist state, the Mid-Century Modern, designed by Thornton Abell, a Case Study Architect, is a masterpiece created by this International Stylist. The indoor/outdoor flow w/modified courtyard lvg. Walnut wd paneling walls & split mrbl fp & dng rom. Walls of glass. St. to st. lot apx. 3/4 AC w/ natural amphitheater. Lrg mstr w/ patio, walk-ins & dressing area. Registered as a LA Historical Cultural Monument.

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Well, here we have a house with a serious architectural ped-i-gree that has been worked over by actor/producer and serial renovator/restorer Michael LaFetra. No, he's not a household name, nor does he make for juicy stories in the tabloids. But anyone who cares a lick about the Los Angeles architectural modernism scene certainly knows who this dude is.

To say that Mister LaFetra likes modernist houses in an extreme understatement. The gentleman with an eye for modern has bought, renovated, and sold a handful of significant Modernist houses including a Rudolph Schindler house in Sherman Oaks, and Case Study House #21 up on Wonderland Park Avenue in the Hollywood Hills that was designed by one of Your Mama's favorite maverick architects, Pierre Koenig. LaFetra also commissioned the very last residential design by Koenig, a big glass box on an ocean front lot in Malibu.

Even if you don't recognize Koenig's name, you would absolutely recognize his most iconic design, the breathtaking Stahl House (Case Study House #22), from the thousand and one television commercials and print advertisements it has been featured. The house, built in 1960 and located on Woods Drive, appears to float above Sunset Boulevard and represents the quintessential Los Angeles sexy pad.

However, let's get to the house that has recently been put up for sale high up in the canyons of Brentwood. Built in 1967 by one of the lesser known Case Study architects, Thornton Abell, the front of the house wraps around an entrance courtyard. Your Mama loves a courtyard almost as much as we love a long, gated driveway. Courtyards keep our long bodied bitches Linda and Beverly safely contained.

According to property records, Mister LeFetra bought this flat-roofed beauty in January of 2005 for an undisclosed purchase price and quickly moved to have it registered as a Los Angeles Historical-Cultural Monument. Which is lovely and certainly sounds great, but it really doesn't mean much other than the city of Los Angeles deems the property notable for one reason or another and would likely move to stop any sort of demolition or significant alteration. However, As Your Mama understands, the LAHCM has no real authority to actually stop demolition or alteration. Too bad. Your Mama prefers preservation committees have some teeth and power.

We don't really know how much work and money LaFetra put into this house, but from the photos it looks mostly like a cosmetic renovation. Have the bathrooms been updated? Anyone know?

We like the spare and all-white kitchen, but that 7-burner electric stove concerns us a bit. We're sure that relic heats up, and for some people it's probably nice to have more than a half dozen burners, but who buys a $4,000,000 house and wants to cook on electric coils anymore? We totally get the red apples are meant to tie into the red paint accents on the exterior of the house, which is a little be cheeseball, but none the less, we do like the way they look lined up and ready for some skinny bitch in a glittery Tori Burch dress to pluck one off the shelf for her dinner before heading out to Les Deux.

The fireplace in the large living room appears to have been re-faced with some sort of stacked stone. Your Mama thinks a twisty brass sculpture hanging over the fireplace would look great. The floor to ceiling sliders look original to the house, and we love them. This room beautifully operates as a shelter from the elements while blurring the distinction between indoors and out with the huge amount of glazing.

Your Mama is not in love with the landscaping in the backyard, we might like to see more drought tolerant succulents and grasses. We get so tired of seeing crazy shaped water pits in the backyard that are supposed to look like ponds or some other cockamamie natural creation, so we are completely loving the big, simply shaped rectangular swimming pool that isn't trying to be anything but a swimming pool. Your Mama is always on the hunt for a nice spot to sit in the shade and protect the fragile skin, and the small patio off the living room overlooking the pool suits us just fine for a shady and cool place to sit sipping a gin and tonic in the late afternoon.

It's unclear to Your Mama if LaFetra actually lives in this house, but we expect there is a long list of folks in Los Angeles who are looking to purchase architecturally significant houses and we imagine Mister LaFetra will be saying goodbye to this house very soon.

Sources: Sky Scraper City

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