Tour the Kun House in Los Angeles

Built in 1936 by architect Richard Neutra, this Hollywood Hills home is now owned by Gerald Casale, one of the founding members of new wave band Devo. See how Casale worked with the Museum of Design and Mechanical Arts to restore the modern masterpiece.
By: Susan Hornik

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Photo By: Jacek Laskus

Home Exterior

"During the day, you really can appreciate the exquisite proportions of Neutra's exterior design," said Casale. "I can never wait to open the garage door, since the back wall is a wall of glass with an uninterrupted view of West Hollywood below."

Living Room

Designed in 1929, the Alvar Aalto chair with natural wood arms is one of Casale’s favorite pieces in the home. The shelving displays some of his architecture and film books. "I have quite a collection since I am also a commercial and music video director. I collect as many books as I can!” he says.

Living Room

"I really admire the Kadinsky print, ‘Meeting Point,’ in the living room,” said Casale. “And I love the wool mohair blend used on the couch. It's a material not used much anymore. This is obviously a great room to entertain my friends and associates when they come over at night."

Indoor/Outdoor Living

Casale noted that this photo illustrates what Neutra does so well: the "seamless" flow from interior to exterior space. "This is what I love about his architecture,” he said. “The beauty of the house is illustrated by the precision of his design."

Kitchen

Casale finds the kitchen to be a peaceful place to spend time. “When I wash my dishes, I love looking outside the window above the sink,” he said. “It's a very relaxing feeling being in this space."

Kitchen Countertop

Home restoration expert James Rega found the Vitrolite for the kitchen countertop in an abandoned art deco theater in Pennsylvania. "This was a material that was popular in the 1930s,” said Casale, who loves to concoct his gourmet meals here. “I was really impressed by how futuristic the design looked. He looked for this material for over a year!"

Pantry Doors

Neutra designed the louvered pantry doors to let air circulate through.

Dining Room

Casale loves the natural wood floors in the dining room. "As per Neutra's original specifications, the wood floors create a rich warmth to counter an otherwise austere, Bauhaus-style room,” he said. “They keep it from being cold, and I like that. The diffusion of the sunlight pouring in through Neutra's fabric shades adds to the coziness that makes you never want to leave. The shades were custom made, since none are made like this anymore.”

Dining Room Table

The dining room table is a recreation based on photos of a black lacquered Neutra-designed table. "The chairs were obtained at a furniture auction,” added Casale. “They were designed by Mart Stam, a designer popular in the late 1920s. And the 1936 clock designed by Gilbert Rohde on the credenza was designed the same year the Kun House was completed.”

Custom Blinds

Custom-made blinds provide privacy for the home’s occupants.

Terrace

Each level of the Kun House has an outdoor terrace. "During the day, I love to sit here at the living/dining room deck level with my espresso that I just made from my Rosito Bisani espresso machine,” said Casale. “On a clear day, you can see the ocean. It’s very special.”

Master Bedroom

"Neutra never wanted any walls to have holes in them, so pictures were hung via wires so that the walls were preserved,” said Casale. “He created a precise routed groove, about 12 inches down from the ceiling, from which you hang a wire for your pictures. He would paint the wall a muted shade of gray up to that groove and then white above it, creating a canopy effect.”

Built-In Drawers

Built-in drawers flank the bed in the master bedroom. "I really like the pre-Columbian sculpture of a Valdivian owl,” said Casale. “I have always been fascinated by the power of owls. My retro house in Palm Desert has owl paintings, sculpture and taxidermy in it. The framed picture is a Kandinsky sketch from 1930 made with India ink.”

Master Bedroom

"In the master bedroom, I use the salmon-colored chair and the table next to it for when I want to read," said homeowner Gerald Casale. "I love sitting there and never want to leave. And the natural lighting is so inviting, too."

Muted Color Palette

Casale is a big fan of the color white. "You can never have too much white in your house," he said. "I like to shut the door of the master bedroom and experience the serene solitude there. I also love the built-in drawers, which have no handles. Neutra anticipated this design trend." The vintage light switches are dummy proof: in/on, out/off.

Bathroom

"It's been 50 years since those sink fixtures were manufactured, so it was really the Holy Grail when we found them," said Casale. “James Rega, whose company, MDMA, restored the Kun House, had to custom fabricate the fluorescent light fixtures built into the mirror to match the original ones used by Neutra. They really came out great!"

Bathtub

Casale appreciates the privacy the translucent glass in the bathroom provides. "And the clean white shower curtain looks better than if it had ducks on it,” he quipped.

Bathtub Fixtures

“These fixtures were really hard to find, and the MDMA crew were thrilled to find them," said Casale. "I love the vintage, no-nonsense look."

Showerhead

Neutra specified this vintage showerhead in his original design for the home.

Den

"I work out of the den, creating new ideas for songs and video projects,” said Casale. “I like its clean, uncluttered feel. It makes it easier to concentrate.”

Terrace Off Den

Like many rooms in the home, the den opens to a spacious deck.

Home at Night

"This is just inside the entrance on the top level," said Casale. "I love being able to see the panorama of Los Angeles lights, stretched from the ocean to the airport."

Rooftop Deck

“Looking back toward the northwest and the entry-level foyer, this is the perfect space for any cocktail party, especially at golden hour when the sun is setting," said Casale.

Aerial View

This aerial shot was taken from the second-story balcony of another Neutra-designed home on the West Hollywood hilltop above.