Open House Obsession: Mid-Century Gem In Encino, $1.8M


Built in 1959, this elegantly low white stucco home is the work of Cliff Burlew, a Valley architect about whom little is known, and according to a vague obituary, he also worked in film set design. Commissioned by one J. Reed Gattman, the house presents two very different faces– walled, austere, and slightly theatrical from the street, and open to a pool set in a lush landscape at the rear.

In apparently (mostly) original and outstanding condition, the 4-bed, 3-bath is being offered through Deasy Penner Podley at $1,795,000 via the real estate auction platform PlumBid, with open houses June 1st and 2nd, June 4th, and June 7th, 8th, and 9th from 2:00pm-4:00pm each day.

Defined by graceful, low massing and a sweeping overhang that joins the garage to the house, the only decoration on the street facade is a subtle pattern on the fascia board– except for the door knob, to which Burlew gave a collar of mother-of-pearl and brass. There are no visible headers, so throughout the property, windows and doors extend to the ceiling.

What We Love: The influence of the great emigre German Modernist Erich Mendelsohn, especially in the incredibly slender pilotis that form the long rear loggia. Hugely influential, Mendelsohn left Germany for London in 1933, going into into partnership with another influential exiled modernist, the Chechnya-born Serge Chermayeff. Mendelsohn would arrive in the US in 1941 and taught architecture at UC Berkeley. Postwar, he designed a number of well-published projects with simple massing and long, open loggias– like the Russell House in San Francisco’s Presidio Heights– before his death in 1953.

A loggia defined by incredibly slender pilotis stretches across the back

In the foyer, a paneled wall doesn’t reach quite to the ceiling, forming a wall of storage in the dining room behind it. Note the graceful terrazzo steps leading up to the bedroom wing.

In the living room, vertical panels of resin and glass let in a soft light; a raised wood platform is set with a polished terrazzo hearth. The bar– this house was built in the era of hi-balls, after all– is concealed by more immaculate cabinet work. There’s also a pristine but updated vintage kitchen.

More: Go to the listing for additional details and information about this perfect moment in Mid–Century design. Represented by longtime architecture specialists Matthew Berkley and Scott Lander at Deasy Penner Podley.

Photo Credit: Cameron Carothers