This 1950s Los Angeles Home Is a Sanctuary for All Seasons

More often than not the best things in life happen when you least expect them. Or as one Los Angeles couple puts it: “when you’re out of town with zero cell phone reception.” Their current home, a two-story 1950s abode in the heart of sunny Brentwood, was a lucky find. “We never even visited. One of our parents went and saw the place for us and walked us through it via a spotty FaceTime. Lo and behold, we placed an offer the same day,” says the wife.

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The home checked many boxes: It had a great layout, it was impossibly lush, and it was large enough for them to grow into. But it fell short on personality, and so too practicality, as evidenced by the washer-dryer wedged into the back of the primary closet. Neither problem deterred the couple, who were confident in making the place livable again with a little help from long-time friends Neda Kakhsaz and Zabie Mustafa of Los Angeles–based architecture and interior design practice Studio Muka.

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The millwork in the living room is full of peekaboo moments that reveal special objects sourced throughout the owners’ travels. Chief among them are a Carl Auböck Glove vase and a collection of vintage vessels by Gunnar Nylund. An open bar cabinet stands to the right.

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The kitchen’s galley layout holds a mirror to its midcentury past. Neda and Zabie brightened up the counter and backsplash with handmade Heath ceramic tiles. The cabinets wear Farrow & Ball’s Pavilion Gray, while the hood bears a likeness to late Italian architect Lina Bo Bardi’s iconic Casa de Vidro in São Paulo, Brazil.

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You’d never know that the Dirk Van Der Kooij table in the breakfast nook was made of recycled plastic. The vintage Robert Mallet-Stevens chairs around it cut a Stygian contrast to the Sergio Mazza pendant above. The candle holders are by contemporary artist James Naish and were sourced from Rhett Baruch Gallery.

The plan, at least initially, was to keep things strictly cosmetic. “But as we took Neda and Zabie through the space, and heard all their ideas, it seemed like the possibilities were endless,” explains the husband of what would soon become a soup-to-nuts remodel. The architects didn’t have to look far for inspiration—or did, depending on which way you look at it. “The sun was our compass,” says Neda, whose cosmic rationale was rooted in good reason. Because the clients are both practicing anesthesiologists whose work keeps them in the glare of harsh fluorescent lights, it was important that the home provide the opposite experience. The architects took one leaf from the book Sun Seekers (which describes the California sun as a miracle cure for ailments), and another from the “proto wellness” ethos of the surrounding community, which was developed in the 1950s in keeping with the culture of health, wellness, and natural lifestyle that is now synonymous with West Los Angeles. “Our design objective sat at the intersection of architecture, design, and medicine,” explains Zabie.

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