Unparalleled views across Los Angeles and the city’s iconic mid-century era shape this low-lying Beverly Hills home.
Trousdale Estates, located at the foothills of the Santa Monica mountains in California, is one of Los Angeles’ most architecturally-uniform communities. Established in the mid-1950s, Trousdale Estates has always been known as the quintessential mid-century neighbourhood for Hollywood celebrities, including Dean Martin, Elvis Presley and Frank Sinatra.
This rich history, combined with the district’s architectural legacy, presented the responsibility to design something unique. Cue: Kovac Design Studio who’ve brought a fresh perspective to the “Mad Men-era feel of the neighbourhood’s low-slung modern homes”.
The New York-based clients – an architect and beauty mogul – engaged Kovac Design Studio to design their pied-à-terre after attending an exhibition on prolific Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. Kovac Design Studio have channelled elements of the famed architects’ aesthetic while leaving their own stamp on the new build through contemporary materiality and indoor-outdoor living.
The living space features an assortment of vintage pieces by eminent mid-century furniture designer Vladimir Kagan; two Serpentine sofas, the 100F-P fireside chairs and 5301 cocktail tables. The four glass-topped side tables are designed by Holly Hunt, alongside the Fritz Hansen Egg chair atop a bespoke rug by Patterson Flynn Martin. The artwork on the wall is a piece by Gene Davis; ‘Untitled’, 1961.
The German-designed and made Bulthaup kitchen features two separate island benches with Gaggenau, Sub-Zero and Miele appliances.
The idea behind the project’s eponymous breeze blocks – emblematic of the mid-century movement – was inspired by the client’s desire for a home that felt private, safe and secure. But this sense of security needed not to impact the home’s facade or appear too shut off from the street, making way for an entryway framed by open cell blocks, arranged in angled columns and painted gold inside. In addition, Kovac Design Studio founder Michael Kovac said that he wanted these breeze blocks to function as a screen and a gentle light source.
“We developed a design where small, vertical LEDs could be concealed inside each block so that they appear to glow from within,” Michael explains. “We sourced a gold paint for the interior cavity of each block to emulate the soft effect of fire or candlelight,” he adds, revealing the final design is “equally practical and magnificent”.
The living and dining space overlooks the pool and spa. Its outdoor counterpart is mirrored directly adjacent ensuring a natural transition from inside to outside.
Artwork by Andy Warhol (‘Vote McGovern’, 1972) and prints by Robert Indiana (‘Love’, 1965) in the open dining area. The bar features an intricate aluminium screen by Bok Modern that faintly recreates the form of a traditional breeze block.
Transparency increases from the opaque plaster-clad facade to the semi-open breeze blocks and, finally, the glass-walled entrance that frames views of the Los Angeles skyline and Pacific ocean beyond. A colourful, Roberto Burle Marx-inspired mosaic in the entryway foreshadows the vivid tones of the owner’s collection of modern art. Designed by the client and clad in Bisazza tiles, the whimsical mosaic mural overlooks a lily pond filled with Green Taro plants.
Kovac Design Studio managing partner Thomas Schneider and Michael Kovac agree the most challenging aspect of the design was ensuring as many spaces as possible throughout the home faced the views. “The relatively low allowable building height and the clearly defined building pad perimeter required a lot of creative thought to keep them from adversely impacting the design,” Thomas says.
These restrictions called for a floorplan designed predominantly on a horizontal axis, with almost every room set against the renowned city backdrop. The living and dining space looks out over the pool and spa, reconceived just a few steps away on the sheltered terrace. Motorised glass pocket doors distinguish inside from out, completely concealed when hosting guests.
A glass bridge separates the infinity swimming pool from the spa and leads to a smaller terrace. Holly Hunt-designed pieces in this alfresco space include the Omura lounge chair and Tortuga sectional sofa at home with the DEDON Dala side table by Stephen Burks.
The bedroom features a custom bed designed by KDS, Hastens mattress and the Slipper chair by Holly Hunt. Photograph by Richard Misrach; ‘Handstand’, 2002.
The primary suite is a sanctuary away from the rest of the home with an in-ground Roman tub and generous shower.
The owner’s curation of modern art informed the material selection; neutral in colour yet tactile. A refined palette of limestone, terrazzo and bleached oak panels provides a tasteful backdrop for the vibrant hues of Gene Davis’ and Andy Warhol’s artwork.
Opening onto its own terrace with unobstructed city views, the primary suite serves as a secluded haven away from the rest of the home. An in-ground Roman tub in the ensuite heightens the experience of bathing. It cultivates a spa-like atmosphere against a wall of lush greenery – another nod to Roberto Burle Marx’s trademark style.
Kovac Design Studio’s Breeze Blocks effortlessly assimilates to its historic locale. Inside, a considered and deeply-personal narrative is told through adaptable living spaces, an enviable art collection and moments of reprieve. In Michael Kovac’s words, the home is best described as an “oasis in the sky.”
The journey inside Breeze Blocks is a visual feast. “We developed a design where small, vertical LEDs could be concealed inside each block so that they appeared to glow from within,” Michael Kovac says.
Kovac Design Studio commissioned Gore Design Co to custom-make almost 2,000 concrete breezeway blocks.
Roberto Burle Marx’s signature ‘squiggly’ design inspired the mosaic mural in the home’s entrance.