Lease on life: a renovation revitalises Richard Neutra’s Josef Kun House #1
Located between West Hollywood and Laurel Canyon, just around the corner from the legendary Chateau Marmont, Richard Neutra’s Josef Kun House #1 is one of the modernist architect’s iconic landmarks in Los Angeles.
The very first all-electric home in L.A., it was designed for Josef Kun, a journalist, and completed in 1936. Recently, its renovation was finalised - a painstaking and meticulous project that took 7 years, of which the first 3 consisted solely of research. James Rega, a musician-turned-preservationist, was involved with the structure’s restoration, while Belgian interior designer Thibaut Van Hoorebeke oversaw the furnishings.
’Nothing was left to chance, every detail is as it originally was,’ says Van Hoorebeke. ’Even the screws on the decks have been turned in the very same direction and we found the exact orange for the kitchen cabinets in Mexico,’ he adds, elaborating on the many details that give this home an uncanny sense of authenticity, resulting in it being one of the recipients of the 2015 Conservancy Preservation Award.
The wooden doors and window frames are painted silver – a typical Neutra touch. Vitrolite, an obsolete material, was used for the walls in the bathroom and kitchen. The wooden floor in the living quarters is stained oak.
’The house itself was my biggest inspiration but simultaneously my biggest hurdle,’ Van Hoorebeke says, hinting at the complexities of working within such a dominant architecture. His main challenge was to ensure the comfort of the 1732 sq ft, 2.5 storey midcentury house was up to the standards of a 21st century dweller. The serene interior, which mixes design pieces from the house’s era with a variation of styles and materials, firmly reflects the residence’s contemporary relevance.
The white dining table, a T88A Maarten Van Severen, is surrounded by Bellini Cab chairs from 1977, upholstered in brown leather. A Sori Yanagi’s butterfly stool and the many large-leafed plants soften the geometric character of the structure, lending a homely atmosphere to this sun-filled Hollywood Hills abode.