In Los Angeles, the Hidden House in Glassell Park

The clients wanted plenty of land for their children to grow up with, all of it within the crowded city of Los Angeles. The architects set out to help them find that property, meet those needs and satisfy a desire for inside/outside living. Four acres in Glassell Park, between Mount Washington and Silver Lake, did the trick. Three more have since been added.

At the center of it all is a home, designed by Silvia Kuhle and Jeff Allsbrook of Standard Architecture, with a large courtyard framed by a living area and a smaller one framed by bedrooms. The result is an irregular, H-shaped structure.

The prevailing attitude at the Hidden House, Jeff said, is simple: “It’s almost like camping. There are fireplaces everywhere. The doors are always open, and the outdoor living area is as large as the inside.”

The concept connecting interior living area to exterior courtyard is a transparency delivered via custom pivot doors. For the kitchen/family room area, the architects used sliding aluminum doors. “That way, you can kind of dematerialize the walls and make it all transparent,” Jeff said.

They built on a tight budget – under $300 a square foot – and dismantled an existing 1940s two-bedroom, one-story cottage in the process. They salvaged about 75 percent of the original materials for re-use, built upon the existing foundation and saved a lot of the framing. “We re-skinned everything, taking it from a 1,600 square-foot house and making it a 3,500 square-foot house,” Jeff said. It’s now a three-bedroom home with an office.

Materials are sensible, and minimal. Floors inside are wood block, with end grain exposed. Doors are Douglas fir. The exterior is redwood and cement plaster. Interior kitchen cabinets are layered plywood. “The materials are earthy, and made to look sympathetic and in harmony with the natural world,” Jeff said.

Their inspiration was the site itself, he said. “We wanted to take advantage of the climate and how to live there in a nice, comfortable way. Even in our commercial work, we like to use doors to open out to California – it’s a kind of paradise.”

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© fotoworks | Benny Chan