Architecture: Modernized Historic Adobe, La Mesa Residence by Dutton Architects
All Photography by Undine Pröhl
After a leader in the music and technology industry purchased a historic adobe home in the mountains of Los Angeles, Dutton Architects excitedly took on the task of bringing this house to life and into the twenty-first century. The home itself was originally designed by John Byers, an architect who had a passion for Hispanic architecture and crafted adobe homes for many, including Hollywood clientele actors such as Shirley Temple and Joel McCrea. Byers devoted his professional life to evoking those vernacular building traditions of Latin cultures, and this property remains as clear evidence of his adoration and dedication to said architectural style.
Maintaining the timeless quality of the traditional Spanish architecture, the design breathes new life into this historic home. The open modernity takes advantage of the natural sunlight filtering into the living space, allowing the outdoor area to seamlessly blend with the home. Looking out through the glass, it seems the interior is almost an extension of the environment surrounding the property. We feel invited to step through the steel-sash doors and step out onto the courtyard and lawn.
The front vestibule is only the start of the seamless blending between the indoor and outdoor spaces at this residence. It is a covered space connected to the outdoor loggia of the home. Standing amongst the entry, it is hard for us to tell where the lavish and meticulous landscaping actually begins. This concept works as a key element of bringing outside into the home, which reverberates into every square inch of the space.
When we do find our feet in the lush grass of the backyard, it is hard not to find the mountain views from the garden breathtaking to behold, and designers of Dutton Architects took advantage of this truth through the conception of the guest house attached to the infinity edge pool. The addition to the property was crafted to be a modern reflection of the existing historic space by using the original materials like stucco and mahogany wood accents. Santa Barbara stone marries the pool to the terrace of the guest space. Once inside, the sliding glass doors allow any guest to bask in the near-distant mountain landscape.
Back inside the main house, the architecture firm worked under more limited constraints of historic preservation, but still found a way to bring newness into the traditional home. The original features are preserved by restoring staples such as the fireplace in the grand living room and keeping true to the lines of the traditional design crafted ages before. Blue hand painted tiles original to the house were preserved and reincorporated into the adornment of the home. However, Dutton Architects found ways to work in the contemporary architecture through incorporating natural elements. This is most evident in the kitchen update.
The new and improved kitchen space seems unapologetic yet empathetic with its modern look. By not shying away from this update to the space the modern minimalist kitchen somehow blends more readily into the pre-existing architecture. We adore how the clean lines mimic the original features of the home through design details such as the thickness of the stone countertops and the wood beams on the kitchen ceiling. They bring strength and warmth into the space, and the new room does not sacrifice the integrity of the rest of the home.
The rhetoric of these design choices ripples throughout the house. The addition of the home office exists as the epitome of the whole residence. Its design makes the indoor space blend with surrounding nature through the abundance of natural light through the all the glass panes in the walls and ceiling above. The walk into the master suite is lined with glass windows giving a warm and almost romantic feel that continues into the spa-like bathroom. Bathing in a garden, the master bath allows one to wash away the cares of the past while surrounded by lush greenery just outside the window. The natural stone of the counters provides strength and warmth just as they do in the kitchen. Little details like this streamline the home’s design to help the space flow together without ever seeming disjointed or have an element to appear starkly out of place.
In a word, this Dutton Architects design is seamless. The flow of the home into the outdoor space, the blending of these two architectural design periods, and the new addition of the guest home echoing the best qualities of John Byers design all come together effortlessly in a house now given a new life, and we could not be more smitten.