Pacific Palisades Home Tour, Boutique Set for Nov. 12

By Libby Motika
Palisades News Contributor

Over the many years of hosting the annual Holiday Home Tour, the Pacific Palisades Woman’s Club has presented a sampling of vernacular architecture that offers an inside peek into Palisades domestic life.

This year, reflecting advances in building technology, the PPWC tour offers two houses that exhibit sensitivity to sustainability and efficiency, from construction materials to drought-tolerant landscapes.

Tour-goers will also have a rare opportunity to visit the Villa Leon, that iconic “castle” overlooking the sea in Castellammare that has for decades been a great source of curiosity.

The 32nd PPWC tour takes place on Sunday, November 12, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. In addition, the Boutique offering shopping and eating will open at 10 a.m. at Palisades High School.

Guests can park free at PaliHi and also pick up Home Tour tickets at will call in front of Mercer Hall. A complimentary shuttle service will take tour-goers to and from each home.

Proceeds from the Boutique and Home Tour are invested in the Palisades community through the PPWC’s generous grant process.


AIA Award Winner

Recognized with an AIA (American Institute of Architects) award for residential design, this house, designed by Rick Leslie, replaced a small cottage built in 1923 on part of the Uplifters Ranch in Rustic Canyon.

Designed to accommodate a challenging lot, the house is constructed with seven levels to maximize light and privacy. The steep slope of the adjacent hill flattens out to a long narrow flat area at the front of the lot.

The main level offers a view of the back yard, which features a ceramic column art piece designed by the architect’s late sister, Connie Leslie. In addition, there is a saltwater swimming pool and vegetable garden.


The lot is an unusual size and the house is built on seven levels with an open floor plan. Photo: Joy Daunis

The living room and dining room open floor plan is framed by bold, colorful exposed steel structures. The kitchen is equipped with a “dog station” complete with treats, water and toys.

Off the dining room, a spiral staircase leads to the architect’s office and the family TV room, with walls covered with the owner’s collection of historic record album covers.

Upstairs, three bedrooms float on different levels. The first level includes the son’s bedroom plus laundry and linen closets; the second is a bridge to the master suite, and the third is the guest room. The original turquoise board and batten redwood door from the Uplifters Ranch cottage secures the suite.

The Uplifters group was an exclusive men’s club founded in 1913 by Harry Haldeman at the Los Angeles Athletic Club. The group moved out of downtown to avoid the scrutiny of Prohibition and purchased a ranch in 1920 in Rustic Canyon.

The saltwater swimming pool and vegetable garden are hidden away in Rustic Canyon. Photo: Joy Daunis

The ranch encompassed 120 acres and bedroom plus laundry and linen closets; the second is a bridge to the master suite, and the third is the guest room. The original turquoise board and batten redwood door from the Uplifters Ranch cottage secures the suite.

The clubhouse and adjacent recreational elements, including a swimming pool, baseball diamond and tennis courts, were donated to the city in the early 1950s. They are now incorporated into the Rustic Canyon Recreation Center.


Whimsy all Around

Tucked into a cul-de-sac, this mid-century post-and-beam home announces its whimsical character right away with a garage and adjacent wall decorated with work by a well-known L.A. street artist.

The home provides a suitable environment for the owners’ art collection. In the entry, the surf culture-inspired “Summer Love” by Andy Davis greets guests.

The living space, consisting of the living room, den, dining room and kitchen, comprises one large open area divided only by a fireplace wall.

The house flows from living room to den, dining room and then the kitchen. Photo: Joy Daunis

Here the visitor will encounter “The Pour,” by Hy Farber, a piece that defies gravity with its clever use of layer upon layer of plywood that forms a constant stream of coffee that spills onto the base of the piece.

The kitchen is clean and simple. The cabinets were fabricated by the one of the first LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certified companies in Italy.

More of the owners’ art and vintage furniture find inviting space in the den. A black- and-white theme is carried out in three Thurston Hopkins prints that hang alongside black-and-white treasures from flea markets.

The master bath and suite are open and airy, inviting nature in. A sitting wall, inspired by graphic artist Charles Kratka’s LAX mosaic tunnels, was built outside the bathtub window to add color to the mostly white bathroom.

The kitchen’s open space is inviting. Photo: Joy Daunis

With attention to a minimal footprint on the environment, the house is equipped with solar panels, radiant heating, LEED-certified cabinetry and low VOC (volatile organic compounds) paint. The wood floors are manufactured maple; the insulation is repurposed denim.


Villa Leon

Architect Kenneth MacDonald, Jr. built the Beaux Arts-style palazzo in 1927 for wool merchant Leon Kauffman and his wife, Clemence.

Perched on a six-lot parcel, the home is oriented so that nearly all of its 35 rooms offer stunning views of the ocean or the surrounding mountains.

Rooms in the Villa Leone contain many wonderful antiques. Photo: Douglas Hill Photography

Stylistically, MacDonald designed the $1-million villa to evoke the grand villas that dotted the Italian coastline during the height of the Roman Empire.

Visitors will notice sculptural decorations on the exterior and interior that incorporate rams’ heads, reflecting Kauffman’s business. The current owners, who lost their family estate in Poland during World War II, also claim a family crest that included sheep design.

The Villa Leon is grandiose in every detail, from the 67-ft. entry hall with spiral stairway, ornate balustrade and gold-bordered mosaic to the mahogany-paneled living room/ballroom and the hand-painted ceilings.

The current owner shares the Kauffmans’ interest in antiques and has decorated the villa with pieces from her own collection. In addition, the house has recently been stabilized with 30 caissons reaching to bedrock.

Long highlighted in the press, the villa was featured in Architectural Digest in 1928, and continues to be featured in photo shoots and videos.

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