After snapping up a 1953 Edward Fickett home after it fell out of escrow (part 1), the homeowners of this original Hollywoodland gem had to sacrifice their collection to help fund their dream house (part 2). With a minimalist style in mind, it was time to focus on the home decor updates that would turn their home into an MCM paradise—and eventually a city landmark.
Although the lower addition was sensitively done, the house hadn’t been touched since the late ’80s. While living in their hermetically sealed office for six weeks in the dead of summer, an out-of-code fireplace and old carpeting were removed from the house, bamboo floors put down and the electrical and plumbing systems upgraded.
The house was painted inside and out, new landscaping put in, a greenhouse window replaced and an excess of built-in cabinets blocking views and restricting the flow were scrapped. Sold as a two-bedroom home, the second bedroom was just a flimsy plywood wall and door partitioning the main living area, so the Foxes had that removed as well.
“The biggest ordeal was the custom stainless steel kitchen cabinets and counter,” Jim remembers. “Price-wise it was very big. The work was amazing but very, very slow; the guy was a perfectionist and it took six months. It was worth the wait, though—it finishes the house to perfection.” The Foxes had the same craftsman build stainless counters in the two baths, where they installed salvaged midcentury Crane sinks.
From the street, the house looks very small and private—by design. It’s not until you‘re inside that it opens up to the canyon setting with walls of glass. “We bought a very small house that was the same size as our condo, so we wanted to give it an airy open feel—get all of the light and views possible,” Jim says. “I’ve seen a few Fickett homes, and I like our little house because of its defining architectural details—like the celestial [clerestory] windows.”
To help assure the house would remain unadulterated in the future, the Foxes successfully applied for city landmark status, a process that took a year and a paid consultant to complete. Next on the docket is qualifying for California’s Mills Act, which offers tax relief and is transferable when the property is sold— as if they’re going anywhere soon.
“In the ’50s Ed Fickett was into making great-looking homes for low- income families—soldiers coming back from the war who wanted a nice family home but didn’t have much money. He designed small houses with indoor/outdoor living that could be built at low cost; he was so great at that,” Jim says.
“Having three decks makes it feel like a 3,000-square-foot house. And we’re at home with the wildlife—bobcats, coyotes, skunks, raccoons —and the peace and quiet. We’re definitely here for the long haul.”