Given Los Angeles–based architects Unruh Boyer’s expertise rehabilitating iconic midcentury modern homes, it is easy to see that the firm’s Rome House, perched on the hills of Los Angeles’s Glassell Park neighborhood, follows in the tradition of L.A.’s visionary residences.

Except that rather than designing an object to be admired from the valleys below, Unruh Boyer has designed a home that revolves around experiencing the outdoors from within the house. The 2,400-square-foot residence is designed around a collection of viewsheds that are used to anchor rooms to the city and nature beyond. These views can be accessed directly via the 320 square feet of balconies or simply through visual connections made from large casement and picture windows.

(Courtesy Joe Atlas)

(Courtesy Joe Atlas)

Not that the structure isn’t nice to look at itself. Partners Trish Boyer and Antony Unruh spent the last few years crafting this comfortable hillside residence. Clad in patterned, bronze-colored bonderized metal and punched openings suited perfectly to Boyer and Unruh’s tastes, the property is actually a speculative development—a problematic condition. “Basically, we designed the home we would want for ourselves, however, the unintended consequence is that it is difficult to part with.” 

The home’s spaces flow into one another in a familiar arrangement: A street-side garage is flanked by a front door that leads to an entry foyer and kitchen with an expansive, airy living room located just beyond, a few steps below the kitchen level. The kitchen, outfitted with utilitarian IKEA cabinets and Carrera marble countertops, opens out onto a side porch and terrace that leads down the sloping site. Floors in the kitchen-adjacent dining room are made up of rough-cut pieces of black slate, with a triumphal hearth separating the kitchen and living room with built-in wood shelving. The living room culminates in a pair of 7-by-10-foot barn-style exterior glass doors that open out onto a wraparound deck overlooking a terraced hillside planted with succulents and pepper trees.



Unruh Boyer’s Rome House in L.A.’s Glassell Park neighborhood uses the height provided by its hillside site and privacy afforded by surrounding vegetation to establish generous connections to the outdoors via balconies, framed views, and an expansive, terraced backyard. (Courtesy Joe Atlas)

Unruh Boyer’s Rome House in L.A.’s Glassell Park neighborhood uses the height provided by its hillside site and privacy afforded by surrounding vegetation to establish generous connections to the outdoors via
balconies, framed views, and an expansive, terraced backyard. (Courtesy Joe Atlas)

The rest of the three-bedroom, two-and-a-half bathroom home unfolds on the floor above, accessed by a stylized staircase made of Glulam construction. That floor is made up of a divisible two-bedroom configuration on one side that features a large, sliding room divider—an ode to the late, midcentury architect Gregory Ain, whose office Unruh Boyer currently uses as its own. The architects envision the space being used as either a pair of bedrooms or as a bedroom and office suite. Floors throughout the level are constructed out of glossy oriented-strand board. The master bedroom on the opposite side of the second floor features built-in closets and a large picture window overlooking the outstretched hills of Northeast Los Angeles.

Resources

Structural Engineering:
Eric McCullum Engineering
310-944-0898

Metal Siding:
The Tin Shop
323-263-4893

Framing:
Amir Hassan, ACG Construction, Inc.
650-345-2082

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