2312 Baxter – A Bestor Design in Silver Lake
Built in 2006 by Barbara Bestor, AIA, this stunning home offers sweeping views, privacy and dramatic living spaces. It’s quintessential Silver Lake in the hills above the reservoir. 2312 Baxter features over 7,200 sq. ft. of engaging design and modern living at its finest with a large formal living room, spacious dining room, library, enormous state of the art kitchen, family room, game room, gym, office and complete guest suite. With six bedrooms, five baths, this is one of the largest homes in Silver Lake, and most coveted. MLS# 15-878173 Property sold on April 28th, 2015 above the listing price in multiple offers.
This is Silver Lake, as the neighborhood is known. The reservoir, designed by William Mulholland, was named after City Water Commissioner, Herman Silver, but it could have been named so for the prosperity of the residents that live in the surrounding hills. A beautiful view is possibly the most desirable amenities of 2312 Baxter Street, but we’ll let you decide.
“It was a virtual remodel, although we had to redesign a lot of it,” Barbara Bestor told us. As the story goes, Bestor had been remodeling the house next door. The Owners of 2312 Baxter liked what they saw. Disappointed with the progress of their own project, they fired their architect and hired her.
“For me, it’s a larger house than I normally do,” recalled Bestor. But that didn’t stop her from putting her signature on the property.
Bestor says she came to the 2312 Baxter project after the foundation had been poured, but the architect found, “A lot of hidden opportunity in the “geometric L-shape,”” From above, can see very distinctive sections of the home. At one end on the right, is a “maid’s quarters,” with a separate entrance and separate floor. The opposite end holds the full guest suite on the upper floor–private, but connected to the main living quarters. You’ll see more of this pictured in the interior photos. And by the way, those are solar panels on the rooftop–72 of them–that powers this home off the grid.
Barbara Bestor founded her architectural firm in 1995, and is recognized for having identified “Bohemian Modern,” a sort of eccentric modernism that is signature to parts of Southern California. In Silver Lake, and neighboring Echo Park, this philosophy is found in epic proportions. In fact, Bestor wrote a book about it – Bohemian Modern, which was released in 2006. 2312 Baxter exemplifies the Bohemian modern attitude, favoring raw authentic materials, brilliant colors, creative space planning, and a natural flow between indoors and outdoors.
Silver Lake has always had a reputation for being home to artists, musicians, writers, and creative people. Callum and Sara Greene, both producers in the Film and Media industry, are the current owners. It was after returning from an extended project in New Zealand–The Hobbit, on which Callum did pre-production– that they went hunting for a place to call home. Longtime residents of the area, they’d held a strong appreciation for Bestor’s work.
“There’s never been a lot of inventory in Silver Lake and this came up,” says Sara. “It was beyond our wildest dreams and we were just, “We’ll figure it out!””
It’s no wonder that the Greenes couldn’t resist this, but the question is, why would they want to leave? Sara reflected on their tough decision on an unusually quiet and peaceful morning–particularly with an infant in the house. They’d bought 2312 Baxter with the expectation of a change of lifestyle. “I’d hoped that buying a house like this would help Callum do more work here.” But, she says, her husband’s long-term projects has had them living abroad for much of the two plus years they’ve own the house.
“Whoever buys this place is so lucky–it’s just incredible,” says Sara. While it’s hard to leave their home, “I am so proud to sell something like this to someone else,” she says, “I don’t feel any hesitations.”As early as 1909 screen figures such as Charlie Chaplin, the Three Stooges, the Keystone Kops, and Gloria Swanson shot their films in converted cottages and barns in the area. Fatty Arbuckle, Antonio Moreno, and other silent stars had homes here. Selig Studios, established in 1909, was located just south of what is now the 2 Freeway terminus. Mack Sennett’s studio on Sunset followed in 1912, and Mabel Normand also had a sound stage in Silver Lake.
Walt Disney built his first large studio in Silver Lake during the 1930s at the corner of Griffith Park Boulevard and Hyperion Avenue, now the site of Gelson’s Market. That’s John Marshall High School in the background.
2312 Baxter is on the Eastern side of Silver lake where screen cowboy, Tom Mix, built his studio in 1916. Mixville was 12 acres of stables and western sets, at the corner of Glendale and Silver Lake Boulevard.
Mix, who really had worked as a cowboy, had been one of the biggest silent movies stars in Hollywood, appearing in more than 300 westerns. Banks, condos, a shopping center, and the Silver Lake Branch of the Public Library now stand where Tom Mix used to ride his horse, Old Blue, who played a supporting role in 87 films with Mix. Old Blue is reportedly buried beneath the Ralph’s Supermarket parking lot. This will be the site of a new Whole Foods Market, set to open later this year.
“We had this really cool table made for the outside,” says Sara. “That’s the first thing we did because Southern California is all about outside living.” Bestor’s design makes full use of providing multiple spaces to enjoy the home inside and out.
2312 is lower center in this aerial shot. The Reiner-Burchill Residence, or Silvertop as it is popularly known, is perched on the ridge across the reservoir, and can be seen from 2312 Baxter. Silvertop. Its recent sale, for over $8.5 million to a long-time Silver Lake resident, has given Barbara Bestor the unique opportunity to restore one of architect, John Lautner’s most iconic homes. Lautner built Silvertop in 1956, bringing to the project ecstatic shapes, retractable glass walls, and a preternatural sense of light, to the project. The renovation is thick in the works, but Bestor intends to follow Lautner’s original vision.
At 2312 Baxter, there are many reminders of the modern architects that have left their mark in Silver Lake. The vertical louvers are reminiscent of Richard Neutra’s VDL Research House on Silver Lake Blvd., which was built to accommodate his office and two families. Neutra’s VDL Research House. This is a precipitous downhill walk from 2312 Baxter so take one of Silver Lake’s hidden staircases on the way back. Neutra’s wife Dione, left the VDL Research Compound to the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design and tours are given.
The louvers at 2312 Baxter, says Bestor, were actually reclaimed from a dismantled office building. They give significant privacy while setting the stage for an experience that feels worlds away from the sharply angled street (one of Los Angeles’ steepest) below.“It’s a house that would call to creative people who have a love for design, well-made things, and craftsmanship,” says current Owner, Sara Greene. “I was struck by the angles, the light and everything that went into it.” “The giant window that rolls into the pocket is very Lautner-inspired,” says Bestor, “he was famous for tricks with windows to create an indoor/outdoor space.” Once open to the North, fresh air floods in making one instantly aware of the breeze lifting off the Silver Lake reservoir. In the distance, is John Lautner’s Silvertop.
“There are a lot of references to [architects before Barbara],” says Sara. “I can say John Lautner was a big influence to her, but then there’s a big difference between copying someone else and then having a mastery of an art. This is not a copy. It’s definitely an update,” says Sara. “You can feel her love for the Master, but she’s got her own voice.”
The quintessential library has to have a rolling ladder. “The original clients were writers,” says Bestor. “There were two offices, one each for the husband and wife.” Writer and producer, Michael Ferris commissioned 2312 Baxter, that was eventually completed in 2006. He is perhaps best known for writing both Terminator 3, and Terminator Salvation, Halle Berry’s Catwoman, and Michael Douglas’, The Game.
Bestor’s signature mark on this interior room is how she uses clerestory and transom windows. Light filters naturally into the library that serves as a connection between the home offices. The embedded window and a skylight brings indirect light to the half bath at the far end.
Privacy behind the louvered panels. This large window, adjacent to the main entrance, actually pivots, letting air and light into the formal dining room, and a strong cross breeze into the kitchen and family living area.
Best time of day? Hard to choose. “Mornings are beautiful because of the sunlight streaming through the windows. But evenings are gorgeous when it becomes a totally different house with the lighting design.”
Many modern architects such as Lautner, Neutra, Morris, and Eugene Kinn Choy designed and built their own homes in the area.
But the homes in Silver Lake here have popped up eclectically over the past century. Spanish, Tudor and Chateau revivals intermingle with modern masterpieces. Next door to 2312 Baxter is a craftsman style home – which, by Bestor’s keen design is barely perceptible from the master bath. And to the south on a nearby hilltop stands a prominent mansion known as the Garbutt house that is owned by ousted American Apparel founder, Dov Charney. The Garbutt House, finished in 1928, is a 20-room mansion that was constructed for inventor, industrialist, and movie pioneer Frank A. Garbutt. Built out of concrete to survive earthquakes and fires, the house has nearly 15,000 square feet and rises 228 feet tall. Due to an intense fear of fire, Garbutt had the roof and walls built of concrete, installed steel-reinforced doors, and forbid fireplaces in the home. It was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The Master Bath, “One of the best views in the house — the Hollywood sign, Griffith Observatory, and Silvertop,” says Sara. “The entrance is off to the side, and at first you don’t even know the existence of the neighbor’s house.”
With a new baby in the house, the Greene’s marvel at Bestor’s thoughtful design, such as the way the staircase curves. “It doesn’t open to any specific room so there isn’t noise that travels from downstairs,” says Sara. “It’s a beautiful staircase but the actual function of it is genius.”
Hopefully you’ve been paying attention to the distinctive papers on the walls–another Bestor element, “We always try to do that with a pattern – grasses, flowers,” says Bestor, for a natural warming aesthetic. This bedroom connects to the adjacent bedroom through a common area of cabinetry and a bathroom —
With so much to admire, don’t forget to check out the cool fixtures in the house. “I started out designing furniture, so I’m always thinking at that level of detail –everything down to the doorknobs,” says Bestor.
Elevated breezeway connects the main house common space to the Guest wing. “We definitely entertain a lot and have a lot of family come. That’s the point of getting such a house. Whenever friends are in town they come stay,” says Sara.
The game room completes the Guest Wing on the lower floor. It opens onto the alfresco dining area, and connects the circle back to the main house. This is yet another Bestor signature feature, and easily recognizable in her work. In fact, Bestor says no home that she has designed is without multiple entrances, and exits. Her distinguishing doorways allow for varying traffic patterns in and out of the house. Of course, 2312 Baxter is tough for the Greenes to let go. “Work is pulling us to another country and this house should have someone enjoying it all of the time.”
No one could have loved this home more. With the solar power making a smaller footprint on the environment, the Greenes like to think they are leaving 2312 Baxter in a better place.
“It deserves to be lived in,” says Sara, looking from her kitchen out into the backyard. She has mixed feelings about selling. “I think it’s the overriding feeling that someone deserves to be here and call it their home.”