Gem of the Canyon

Award-winning remodel of beautiful MCM home hits market with resort-style appeal
Fridays on the Homefront
Now on the market, this beautiful mid-century modern in Los Angeles' Nichols
Canyon designed by the highly regarded architects Buff, Straub and Hensman was built in 1960, the same year the firm designed the remarkable Case Study House No. 20B for writer Saul Bellow, and two years before they created another spectacular house for actor Steve McQueen across the canyon from Ajioka House. All photos: Anthony Barcelo - courtesy Steve Frankel and Carl Gambino
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront
Fridays on the Homefront

As the '60s dawned in the Hollywood Hills, mid-century modern architecture bloomed. An award-winning restoration of such a modernist blossom just hit the market with ample price tag and a promise of resort-style living in Tinseltown.

Buff, Straub and Hensman, the designers of this house, were a firm comprised of three graduates-turned-teachers at that wellspring of Los Angeles design, University of Southern California School of Architecture.

The three-bed, three-bath post-and-beam home at 2563 Nichols Canyon Road is known as Ajioka House, presumably after the original owners. It was listed recently for $6.95 million by realtors Steve Frankel of Coldwell Banker and Carl Gambino of Westside Estate Agency.

The property is actually five structures on .82 acres, with all beds and baths in a two-story main house built in 1960. That was two years after the designers built the remarkable Case Study House No. 20B for writer Saul Bellow, two years before they created another spectacular house for actor Steve McQueen across the canyon from Ajioka House.

"They were prolific," said Frankel of the firm's output, particularly in the Nichols Canyon area of the hills above Hollywood. Speaking of this particular house, he added, "It's stunning…and I'm thrilled to have it as a listing."

"Over the years the house had seen a number of remodels, most notably by Jerry Bruckheimer in the 1980s," said the seller, menswear designer and tech entrepreneur Derek Mattison, referring to the film producer and former owner. In an email interview, Mattison described his efforts to return the main house to its original design in 2009-'10 after buying it in '08 for $2.5 million.

"During the remodel, basically every inch of the house was touched to bring it back to what it should have been in 1960," he said, noting that some windows and skylights were moved in the process. "The house is pretty symmetrical, so it's not too hard to imagine where things should go, but many things were clearly off."