Hollywood Hills House by Kristen Becker steps down a steep Los Angeles hillside

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

Medieval castles and industrial buildings influenced the design of this multi-storey California home by Kristen Becker of architecture firm Mutuus Studio, which is intended to have “a modest footprint”.

Named after its location, the Hollywood Hills House is perched on a sloped property in Los Angeles that is dotted with shrubs, cacti and oak trees.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

The project was designed by Kristen Becker, one of three founders of Mutuus Studio in Seattle. Becker started the project while working as an associate at Olson Kundig Architects.

The house was conceived for a couple, Mia Sara and Brian Henson, who both work in the entertainment industry.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

Taking cues from their apartment in New York, the clients desired a California home featuring a “highly considered design within a modest footprint”. Their former home in Los Angeles was much larger.

“In consideration of the environment and the desire to simplify, the clients yearned for a smaller footprint for their family residence, much like their New York City penthouse loft,” the team said.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

Nestled into a site with a 45 per cent slope, the three-storey house consists of rectilinear volumes that roughly form a V-shaped plan. Terraces are incorporated throughout the residence, enabling the clients to enjoy the region’s pleasant climate.

Facades feature a mix of concrete, wood, glass and metal. On the south side of the dwelling, the upper level cantilevers over the site, its glass wall offering panoramic views of the twinkling city.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

Public and private areas are dispersed throughout the dwelling. Becker drew upon her background in dance while conceiving the home’s layout and circulation paths.

“A showcase of experiential choreography that rejects the traditional sequence of spaces, the seamless flow through the house speaks to the designer’s background in dance and an innate instinct when walking through a space,” the team said.

The top level contains a foyer, garage and master bedroom, while the bottom level houses a media room, storage space and laundry facilities. The middle floor holds an open-plan kitchen, dining area and living room, along with two bedrooms, a workshop and a study.

The home is entered on the top level via a footbridge – a subtle reference to medieval castles found in Europe.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

“Taking cues from the clients’ Irish travels and many visits to great castles of Europe, one enters from the top of the site across a wood-and-steel bridge spanning a secret garden through a monumental bronze door,” the team said.

“Through the threshold and down the stair, guests are welcomed into a primary living space, an homage to the sense of arrival to a great hall.”

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

The finishes and decor in the home are eclectic yet carefully considered – a fusion of “industrial chic and old-world interiors”. Becker collaborated on the interior design with the clients and Mia Sara’s father, an artist and curator.

In the kitchen, the team incorporated blackened steel, walnut and brass. The adjacent dining area is fitted with a thin, teak table by Danish designer Finn Juhl and leather chairs. Suspended overhead is a chandelier by LA-based artist Facaro that is constructed of bicycle chains.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio The living room features caramel leather sofas, leopard-print stools and a bronze and glass coffee table by Willy Daro. Accent pieces include African artwork and a cast from Brian Henson’s childhood.

Natural light pours in through floor-to-ceiling glass. One side of the room has a garage-style door that lifts upward, enabling the public area to flow onto a terrace.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

“One of the most notable features of the living space is a heavy metal, gear-and-chain pivoting window – not only an opulent gesture that complements the interior objects but also an emphasis on the idea of ever-changing, interweaving spaces,” the team continued.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

The style established in the public zone was used throughout the dwelling. The home’s material palette was “kept elemental”, the team said, noting that concrete, blackened steel, copper, cedar and fumed oak are among the chosen materials.

Overall, the home is meant to feel both comfy and controlled.

Hollywood Hills by Mutuus Studio

“Born out of a desire for modesty, the Hollywood Hills House delivers a message of a luxurious California lifestyle yet carefully calculated use of space,” the team said.

Mutuus Studio was founded in 2016 by Becker, architect Jim Friesz and artist Saul Becker.

Other projects by the firm include a farm-to-table restaurant in Seattle that features rustic materials and earth tones, and the conversion of a large, steel sphere from an old paper mill into a public art installation in Bellingham, a coastal Washington city.

Photography is by Kevin Scott.


Project credits:

Designer: Kristen Becker of Mutuus Studio (mentored by Tom Kundig while at Olson Kundig)
Team: Renee Boone, CJ Christensen
Interior design: Kristen Becker, Mia Sara, Jerry Sarapochiello
Builder: Dowbuilt

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