John Lautner is best-remembered for his sprawling residences — the 1963 Sheats-Goldstein House in L.A.’s Beverly Crest neighborhood and 1968 Elrod House in Palm Springs, for example — but the noted SoCal modernist architect also designed a series of smaller-scaled homes early on in his career, each bursting with the same invention and drama of his later creations.
So, how did the accountant for one of the greatest architects ever live? A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner was given the advice to “break the box” of the traditional home design using varied geometries. And he adhered to that practice wholeheartedly with this diamond-shaped structure featuring unconventionally fashioned rooms, which he designed for his bookkeeper Lorena Deutsch and her husband George. Set in the Hollywood Hills, the place is blessed with bird’s-eye views overlooking the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory.
“The hallmarks of Lautner’s unique architecture are here,” says Maureen Erbe, who is co-listing the two-level, midcentury modern property on Macapa Drive with Henry Blackham and Bonnie Matthews, all of Deasy Penner Podley, for $2.76 million. “The indoor-outdoor house blends with nature by framing a panorama of the mountains in the living room’s floor-to-ceiling glass wall.
“Inside, natural materials highlight the varied, flowing floor plan,” adds Erbe. “Lautner’s masterful skill-shaping space is seen here; the ceiling starts low in the intimate den at one end, and then lifts to lead your eye toward the mountain vista.”
Originally constructed in 1954 by master boat builder John de la Vaux — Lautner’s contractor of choice for many of his adventurous designs — the residence still retains the crafter’s built-in, nautical-inspired cabinetry and portholes.
Property records reveal the house was acquired by the current owners — she a textile colorist in the fashion industry, he a financial services executive — 18 years ago for just $849,000. The couple subsequently embarked on a painstaking restoration, reverting the Deutsch House to its original character after years of deferred maintenance and other neglect.