2344 Sunset Heights Drive: Modernist Tree House in Laurel Canyon

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This lovely midcentury tree house nestled in the Hollywood Hills is evocative of those wonderful case study homes of the 50s that peppered the city and ushered in modernist era home construction. At 3 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms and a spacious 1,528 sq. ft. of living space on a large 3,648 sq. ft. lot, 2344 Sunset Heights Drive is currently available for the asking price of $1,095,000. MLS ID: 16-159764

Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1946

Los Angeles Times, February 15, 1946

Built in 1958, 2344 Sunset Heights Drive was built during the time shortly after World War II when designers were constructing experimental homes. According to Frank Mulcahy in a 1962 edition of the Los Angeles Times, “Experimental homes, or case study homes as they are sometimes called, have had a marked influence on the industry in the last 50 years or so…built by companies intent on developing new products for construction or in devising different and more economical building techniques.”

The Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1989

The Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1989

The Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1989

The Los Angeles Times, October 15, 1989

The Case Study Project, an initiative created by Arts & Architecture magazine editor John Entenza, was a call for architects to “design for postwar living.” Architectural greats like Neutra, Soriano, Eames, and Saarinen answered the call, and several of these case study homes can still be found in the Laurel Canyon area by 2344 Sunset Heights Drive. One such house is the Bailey House, Case Study House #21 built in 1958. The Bailey House is less than a mile north of the home on Sunset Heights, on the famed Wonderland Avenue where many a celeb has lived.

Bailey House, circa 1958, courtesy of USC Digital Libraries

Bailey House, circa 1958, courtesy of USC Digital Libraries

Designed by architect Peter Koenig, the Bailey House exemplifies the modernist, minimalist tradition of the case study homes that featured “light construction, open connection with land and low profile…the result was an integration of natural and man made” (Laurel Canyon Association). These homes often used steel and were made to accommodate the need for more housing due to the return of soldiers from World War Two.

The Stahl House pool, circa 1960, courtesy of USC Digital Libraries

The Stahl House pool, circa 1960, courtesy of USC Digital Libraries

The Stahl House, Case Study House #22 just three miles south of 2344 Sunset Heights Drive and just above Sunset Boulevard, is another well-crafted Koenig home.

Designed for Buck and his wife Carlotta, this fabulous modern marvel offers absolutely stunning views of the city, and for a not-cheap $90, you can get a one-and-a-half-hour evening tour of the home and see it for yourself.

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2344 Sunset Heights Drive echoes a similar nature-driven sensibility. Nestled in the gorgeous canyons, this lovely, charming home features some of the same, fluid tendencies of its Case Study home contemporaries. Completely private with no neighbors on either side of the home, the home balances the wooden elements with large, open spaces and geometric elements that are characteristic of other midcentury modern homes of the era.

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That pop of teal is pretty sweet, too.

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The modern design of the exterior lends itself well to the interiors of the home as well. The wooden-rafted ceilings combined with abundant amounts of natural light streaming through multiple floor-length windows maintain an airy, earthy feel. We agree that the interior of a modern home does call for a combo of wood, stripes, and the occasional splash of red. The freestanding fireplace is also a welcome touch for those breezy canyon evenings.

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The minimalist theme continues into the kitchen, with wood trimmed-cabinets and hardwood floors reminiscent of a lodge or summer cabin.

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The den has its own separate entrance, perfect for in-laws or other guests.

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The living spaces are open and offer multiple options for going outdoors onto a patio or balcony, or downstairs toward the other two bedrooms.

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And sometimes, the bedrooms also open out onto a wonderful balcony, complete with requisite hammock!

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The outdoor spaces are truly some of the greatest features of 2644 Sunset Heights Drive. It’s easy to see how this home would be the perfect fit for an artist like Hy Farber, a renowned sculptor who lived here with his wife in 1978.

Hy Farber’s “The Spill” courtesy of Frank Pictures Gallery

Hy Farber’s “The Spill” courtesy of Frank Pictures Gallery

According to his website, Hy was a “Pioneer of the now recognized California Design movement, he founded the Society of Contemporary Designers and, in 1950, organized the first exhibition of design on the West Coast at the Museum of Science and Industry in Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1950

Los Angeles Times, August 20, 1950

One can imagine that the sweeping canyon views, minimalist design of the home, solitude, and expansive greenery were all likely conducive to Hy’s artistic projects. His wife, Rose, worked as a graphic designer. Records show that Jon Sommers, another designer who was the director of the Hollywood Community Design Center, also purchased the home before the Farbers in 1973.

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The work space at 2344 Sunset Heights doubles an as office

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or a perfect musician’s studio too—this is truly an artist’s paradise.

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The wrap around balcony eventually leads us outdoors to the stunning over 3,000 sq. ft. lot. A natural place to meditate or go for short walks as one ponders their next artistic pursuit.

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The 2344 Sunset Heights midcentury tree house is just a few minutes away from the award-winning Wonderland Avenue Elementary School, which has been around since 1927. We’ve covered the mysterious Wonderland Murders before, which happened over at 8763 Wonderland Avenue, less than a mile away from 2344 Sunset Heights Drive.

The late Heath Ledger's former treehouse style home on Woodrow Wilson Drive

The late Heath Ledger’s former treehouse style home on nearby Woodrow Wilson Drive

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It’s also not far from another, famous tree house—Heath Ledger’s old home over at 8050 Woodrow Wilson Drive, a zen-like retreat known as The Tree House. The 2-bedroom, 2-bathroom enclave is situated in a sycamore grove in Laurel Canyon, giving it the moniker. Josh Hutcherson (of Hunger Games fame), purchased the Tree House in 2012.

The highly coveted Bird Streets neighborhood is also just due south of 2344 Sunset Heights Drive. Perched above the Sunset Strip with stunning bird’s eye views but none of the noise of the riffraff below, this highly prized neighborhood is where celebs like Leonardo DiCaprio, Herbie Hancock, Jennifer Aniston, and Keanu Reeves get to call home.

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Though surrounded by lavish homes and ultra-lavish celeb lifestyles, the home at 2344 Sunset Heights retains its artsy, modest charm in line with Laurel Canyon’s rock and roll creative legacy. Just fifteen minutes from all the action that the Strip and Hollywood have to offer, this tree house and the gorgeous yards around it inspire that childlike sense of discovery and wonder that we summon when the creative process begins…

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