8529 Ridpath Drive: Artist Refuge in Laurel Canyon’s Kirkwood Bowl
8529 Ridpath Drive is the perfect artists’ retreat in Laurel Canyon’s desirable Kirkwood Bowl. Echoing mid-century modern design, it was built in 1962, which was still early in the decade that marked Laurel Canyon as the epicenter of Rock ‘n Roll. By the late 1960s, Carole King, Brian Wilson, Jim Morrison, Dusty Springfield, Joni Mitchell, Frank Zappa, and bands the Eagles, the Mamas & the Papas, Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, had all moved into the neighborhood.
There’s no end to the rock legends and lore from Laurel Canyon’s hey day. In a 2015 Vanity Fair interview, Joni Mitchell talked about her little house that she paid a modest $36,000 for and the creative stimuli that surrounded her in Laurel Canyon.
JONI MITCHELL: My dining room looked out over Frank Zappa’s duck pond, and once when my mother was visiting, three naked girls were floating around on a raft in the pond. My mother was horrified by my neighborhood. In the upper hills the Buffalo Springfield were playing, and in the afternoon there was just a cacophony of young bands rehearsing. At night it was quiet except for cats and mockingbirds. It had a smell of eucalyptus, and in the spring, which was the rainy season then, a lot of wildflowers would spring up. Laurel Canyon had a wonderful distinctive smell to it. – An Oral History of Laurel Canyon, the 60s and 70’s Music Mecca, Lisa Robinson, February 8, 2015
Since then, the iconic region has gone through many incarnations, but the isolation and beauty of the canyon’s narrow streets and views still inspire great art and music.
It’s currently owned by prolific entertainment industry writer, Joe Ballarini, who bought the two bedroom house 10 years ago. He now lives there with wife, Cara, who founded a high-end muesli company. Joe says living here has had a great influence on his work of the past decade. His IMDb credits for writing and directing scrolls for days listing projects such as Turbo (DreamWorks Animation), Epic and Ice Age: Continental Drift (Blue Sky Studios) for Fox Animation. And he has a new book, the first in a trilogy, coming out for Harper Collins next year, if that’s any indication of what a retreat in the canyon can bring you.
“Working in Los Angeles you need to be near studios, but as a creative person you need to be removed. Being up in the hills and outside of the grid you feel a little freer. Maybe there is a weird energy vortex of like-minded people who are drawn to it. It’s very eclectic and unique here.” – Joe Ballarini
Upscale, yet comfortable with a cool neutral palette and natural wood to go with any decor. This 1,435 sq. ft of live-work space heightens creativity.
A large open kitchen-dining-living room experience takes full advantage of natural light. Floor to ceiling windows carry the living space through to the outdoor terrace.
Two of the previous owners of 8529 Ridpath in the 1990s were Barbara and Manuel Bouza, both architects who bought 8529 Ridpath as their first home.
“It was quirky. When the house was originally built it was a duplex. It was modern by bones so we wanted to go clean and simple and modernize it. We did mostly cosmetic work on the house. We added wood floors – no major construction. Most of the common areas were on the upper level. It was popular among our architect friends because it was like a tree house.” – Barbara Bouza
The Bouzas lived in 8529 Ridpath through the 1994 Northridge earthquake and were pleasantly surprised by the unyielding lot and construction. “Only one wine glass fell over,” recalled Barbara Bouza. “The granite there is solid.” Having fallen in love with all that Laurel Canyon had to offer, the Bouzas eventually moved into another home in the neighborhood.
A large office + artists + family space on the lower level opens up to its own outdoor patio.
Another favorite spot imagined by the Ballarinis: a full-sized Chinese elm was planted street side to shield this quiet haven and add privacy. It’s almost like having another room that can be enjoyed as an outdoor office or for an afternoon glass of rosé.
Views from the master bedroom.
Each bedroom is on a different level, both unique with generous closet space.
“We are really going to miss all the charm of living in the hills but being just five minutes away from incredible restaurants and the city.” – 8529 Ridpath owner, Cara Shine Ballarini.
There’s this store where the creatures meet
I wonder what they do in there
Summer Sunday and a year
I guess I like it fine, so far”- The Doors, Love Street
View from 8529 Ridpath. And famous neighbors? Not to be coy, but the Ballarinis tell us that in Kirkwood Bowl living next to a huge celebrity is routine and you can even count on everyone famous or not to be a part of the community.