Return of the Architect: A Bel Air Mid-Century Gets a Makeover

  • View From Above

    View From Above

  • Dining Room

    Dining Room

  • Kitchen Island

    Kitchen Island

Over a half century ago, Robert Earl, then an architect in his 20s, found a piece of property in the Bel Air neighborhood of Los Angeles, purchased it, and built a home for himself. Some four years later, he sold it.

Fast forward five decades. The 1963 Mid-Century masterpiece is back on the market for $4,495,000, a few dollars more than what it cost to build.

Earl, now an elder statesman of Los Angeles design, returned to the spot of his '60s project to help the sellers give the place an overhaul, while retaining the spirit of his original creation.

The current owners bought it with the intention of restoring it, then selling it, according to listing agent Max Nelson.

"The buyers wanted to preserve the integrity of the design and wanted to bring it in to the 21st century," Nelson says. He adds that Earl "provided guidance and insight throughout the process. He consulted on every design choice and decision that was made."

The result is a spectacular refresh that holds on to that Cal-Mod vibe with a few seamless updates.

Improvements included taking down two walls to "optimize the view," notes Nelson. And now? "When you open the front doors, you can see head on to the ocean." The sellers also replaced the older parquet flooring that covered some spaces and filled it out with new terrazzo that matches the original tile in the living and dining rooms.

The four-bedroom, three-bathroom residence is sited on a location that Nelson calls "magical." It's at the end of a long, private drive, and boasts canyon, ocean, and city views. Indoor-outdoor space is a pure joy, since the home is all one level and includes plenty of outdoor access to the pool and desert landscape.

But what's notable is perhaps what didn't need changing. Aside from the two walls coming out, there were no major alterations to the interior, which was well-thought out at the time, notes Nelson.

"He was from the future," the agent says of the architect. Even though the home is tied to a specific era, "It's a timeless piece of architecture. This house will be relevant in 40 years."

Best of all? The work to get it to restore it to its timeless state has already been done. Nelson adds, "You do not need to do a thing."