One could never claim that this house has lacked for rugged individualists: The previous owners, Tom and Jane Apostol, are a mathematician and a writer, respectively; current residents, Irmi Maunu-Kocian, a Viennese-born administrator at a German cultural center, and Peter Maunu, a session musician, live there with 14-year-old son Matti. Add to this mix the pros: Kenneth Gordon, former president of the AIA California chapter who designed the original 1949 house; Tim Andersen, a self-described “architect whose work supports a revival of local building and craft traditions,” who added on a living room in 1975; and Alice Fung and Michael Rosner Blatt of L.A.’s Fung+Blatt, the team that remodeled the master bath and upgraded a former barn to guest house status several years ago. Oh, and throw in a one-third acre garden designed by Theodore Payne, a native plant advocate, years ago.
“The first moment I saw this house I wanted it but Irmi thought it was too dark,” says Peter. “We showed it and another ‘Spanoid’ [Irmi’s term for Mediterranean/Spanish revival bungalows] that we both liked to Fung+Blatt and to a German cabinetmaker friend; they all thought this had the most possibilities. To get a barn, a pool, an acre of land and this house for $350,000 in 1997 was amazing.”
The house, which sits in a wooded glen just barely outside Angeles Forest boundaries in Altadena, Calif., has evolved from a unreinforced masonry shed to a long, low board-and-batten rustic ranch with a modernist addendum. “It’s like European castles that start out Medieval, then have Baroque additions and become more and more contemporary,” Irmi says. “Now I wholeheartedly agree it was the better choice.”
“The living room addition to the Apostols’ house was my first architectural project after leaving the office of Charles Eames in 1975,” says Tim Andersen, now based in Seattle. The original living room was long and narrow with the entry opening directly into the room, making it difficult to furnish since it served more as a hallway. The owners wanted to expand the room into the garden and create a separate entry.
From Kenneth Gordon to Tim Andersen
Architect Tim Andersen ignored an architectural historian’s advice when incorporating the living room in the former Apostols’ house. Find out what rebellious move he did—which involved a tree!—in part 2.