A Family’s Modernist L.A. Home Gets A Livable Update


Living room of a midcentury...

The renovation of a 1950s Edward H. Fickett home in Los Angeles by designer Morgan Newfield was all about “comfort and real life,” she says. The coffee table is by Mimi London and the Dmitry and Co. chair is from Una Malan. Artworks include a beach scene by Judith Gigliotti and a special commission by Kristen Giorgi.

Family room space near a...

“The space had to be stylish yet kid-friendly since it opens to the main area,” says Newfield of the playroom. There, she combined an RH sectional and tables and a side chair from Blu Dot with an ottoman from Lawson-Fenning and a rug from Silk Road Rug. Designer Morgan Newfield knew that the renovation of a midcentury home for longtime clients would require a thoughtful approach. She understood the importance of preserving architect Edward H. Fickett’s design—she also wanted

Breakfast nook with round table...

In the breakfast nook, a Palecek pendant is poised above a Saarinen table from Design Within Reach for a deft pairing of organic and polished surfaces. Newfield had the Cowtan & Tout banquette fabric specially treated to stand up to heavy use. Throughout the home is concrete flooring from Ron O’Dell’s Custom Concrete.

Detail of kitchen with island...

The open-plan kitchen was designed to be “clean, warm and inviting,” says Newfield. Walnut casework by Cabinet Creations—accented by Emtek hardware—defines the space. Counter stools by Room & Board stand in front of the island finished with Caesarstone countertops. Appliances include Miele ovens, a Wolf cooktop and integrated Sub-Zero refrigeration; the sink is Kohler, and the fittings are Dornbracht.

View of hallway with gray...

Architect Scott Prentice teamed up with general contractors Nathan and Trish Dixon on the extensive renovation and addition. Reynaers windows glaze a hallway leading to the master bedroom. A lush runner from Silk Road Rug is underfoot.

Detail of bar

Pulling up to the granite-topped bar area are Takagi Homstvedt stools from Design Within Reach and a copper Roll & Hill pendant from Twentieth. Behind the Kohler sink and Dornbracht faucet is Donghia wallpaper. The wine refrigerator is by Sub-Zero.

Detail shot of master bedroom...

“Life is super hectic when you have four children,” says Newfield, so she designed the master bedroom to be a “comfortable and stylish oasis for these busy parents.” A seating area features a chair from Design Within Reach and a Lawson-Fenning sofa in a Romo solid. Above the Room & Board console is a painting by Morgan Everhart. A rug from Woven tops hardwood flooring from Perfec Floors.

Terrace overlooking pool

Outside, the designer created a seating area with a Gloster sofa and an armchair by Palecek, upholstered with DeLany & Long fabric from Cowtan & Tout. Across the pool by West Coast Pools are Eco Outdoor chaises and a Santa Barbara Designs umbrella. The plants and planters are from Rolling Greens Home + Garden.

Designer Morgan Newfield knew that the renovation of a midcentury home for longtime clients would require a thoughtful approach. She understood the importance of preserving architect Edward H. Fickett’s design—she also wanted to capture the carefree spirit of the era in which it was built. Disneyland had just opened, the Capitol Records building was transforming Hollywood’s skyline, and Fickett was about to begin work on Dodger Stadium. “Those all conjure up images of modernism, palm trees—that history was an awesome addition to lovingly restoring this home,” says Newfield.

Enlarging the home without changing its original footprint required a particularly skilled team, so the owners brought on architect Scott Prentice and general contractors Nathan and Trish Dixon. “We inherited an untouched home—that’s virtually unheard of,” says Prentice. To guide the renovation, the architect—like Newfield—looked to the structure for inspiration. “The nature of the post and beam construction laid it all out for us for the most part,” he says. “It also served as a structural goal to try to adhere as closely to the original ‘light’ construction while still satisfying upgraded seismic codes and maintaining the beauty of the walls of glass and floating roofs with large, almost impossible, overhangs.”

The owners were all in from the beginning. “They chose this house knowing it would be a process,” says Prentice. “We worked collaboratively with them early on and explained how the most sustainable move we can make is to use what we can, if we’re fortunate enough to have it.” The team had plenty to work with, including the home’s original redwood siding. “It was all old-growth redwood!” Nathan Dixon says, sounding as enthusiastic as a forty-niner striking gold. Every piece was carefully removed and then reused. “From a builder’s standpoint, remodeling is harder than a new build,” he shares. “But we can put in all new systems, electrical, plumbing and heating, and keep original elements, so the home has the characteristics of an older house yet performs like a new one.”

The interiors, too, honor the original spirit of the home. “We wanted to preserve certain aspects, like the cinder block in the kitchen and the living room,” says Newfield, but it was a nearly fresh start when it came to the furnishings. The designer chose mainly custom and contemporary-leaning pieces, all with a minimalist, naturalistic look that complements the post and beam style. “At its root, the house is midcentury modern, but the design transcends that aesthetic. This is contemporary with a midcentury modern backdrop—the styles play off each other. It’s eclectic, not stiff,” she says. Pointing to the fluid lines of the painting above the living room sofa, an acrylic on linen commissioned from artist Kristen Giorgi, Newfield adds, “The furniture, textiles and art soften the house.” In the same spirit, she wove in a vintage Swedish rug to the entryway, but not where you might expect it. “Displayed on the wall, you can appreciate its beauty. It brings warmth and texture,” she says.

Newfield’s approach to each room is highly considered, with a particular interest in artisanal objects like a lamp by Gabriela Valenzuela-Hirsch in the living room made of solid Guanacaste wood. “Its overscale nature fits perfectly, and it takes on an architectural feel when juxtaposed against the wood ceilings, cinder block walls and concrete floors,” the designer notes. Elsewhere, a modular pendant consisting of a conical shade and brass counterweight illuminates the bar. There are whimsical dashes, too: the low-slung, bright yellow chair in the playroom and a wallcovering featuring exuberant blooms against a dark background. “It’s just very successful,” Newfield says of the overall result. “The home isn’t lacking anything.”

Neither are its outdoor spaces. “We furnished the exterior to look like an outdoor room and feel collected,” Newfield says of the deck’s seating areas, where she placed living room-worthy pieces, such as a Bari Ziperstein table in a deep green that echoes the hue of the grass. “I wanted it to feel like a resort, with pops of color and interesting shapes.” Large planters tie the entertaining areas to the verdant garden, which was designed by 3 Pinos. “Inherent in the best midcentury houses is an embrace of the naturalness of indoor-outdoor materials, an honesty in approach, and a courtyard that brings it all together,” says Prentice. “This house is seamless and timeless. You can’t pinpoint it as a restoration. It just works.”