February 7, 2023


Giving your Home a new Option

The John and Mary Lautner House by John Lautner

Before he became a monolithic figure in American architecture, John Lautner’s first significant solo project was a home he designed for himself and his first wife, MaryBud, just on the heels of a fellowship with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. Now, for the first time in decades, the Los Angeles property is up for sale.

Perched on a steep hillside in Silver Lake, the John and Mary Lautner Residence remains in nearly original condition. The redwood-clad home cascades down a steep slope—a challenge Lautner approached with the intention “to build something of the hill, rather than in spite of the hill.”

The home helped to establish Lautner’s name independent of his mentor, although Frank Lloyd Wright’s influence is evident throughout. Ribbon windows overlook treetops in the wood-clad living room, which also features a clay tile fireplace and an abundance of built-ins.

Interesting features include the hexagonal shape that defines much of the multilevel living room and kitchen, as well as the formerly open deck that separated public and private areas. Windows surround the home on all sides, overlooking treetops and a private courtyard along the front. The property also retains many original details, including stained concrete floors, plaster walls, cabinetry, and plywood ceilings.

Shortly after the home’s completion, east coast architectural critic Henry Russell Hitchcock described it as “the best house by an architect under 30 in the United States” in California Arts and Architecture magazine.

The living area is divided from the kitchen by a series of steps and a redwood-clad parapet that also forms the back of a built-in sofa. Lautner added over 25 feet of built-ins to provide storage throughout the 1,244-square-foot home.

A piece the next year in House Beautiful remarked on the home’s challenging location: “The hill itself was far from beautiful. There was a sweeping view, but not much else. Trees and rocks were lacking…To the lay mind, the prospects for building an attractive small house on such an unpromising site would have seemed hopeless. But John E. Lautner, Jr., Los Angeles architect, did not see it that way.” The property was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2016, lauding its significant midcentury and Wrightsonian design elements.

The kitchen sits several steps up from the living area and overlooks a courtyard near the street. Natural ventilation was created by sloping the ceiling so that warm air would rise and exit through this upper level.

A view from the kitchen shows the built-in desk and stairs leading down to the living room. 

Lautner lived at the property for just a few years, moving in 1947 when he and MaryBud divorced. The property was last sold for $184,000 in 1984 and recently, it was listed for $1,590,000. Keep scrolling to see more. 

A hallway from the living room and kitchen leads to the bedrooms. Lautner originally designed the space as an outdoor deck, but it was enclosed by the subsequent owners in 1948.

A large deck at the end of the walkway was also enclosed to provide more space for an adjacent bedroom.

Another view of the bedroom reveals additional storage and built-ins along another wall.

A look at one of the home’s two full bathrooms.

Wide, boxed eaves run along the roof as the clay-tiled chimney appears to pierce the roof from the fireplace below.

Views from the living room extend across Los Feliz to the Griffith Observatory.

A rear view shows a cantilevered living room and a formerly enclosed walkway to the bedrooms. Lautner would go on to build several homes nearby, including the famous Reiner-Burchill “Silvertop” Residence down the street.

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