From Fickett To Neutra: Mid-Century Perfection Reimagined In Los Angeles

After cutting his teeth in the vintage denim game, designer Philippe Naouri is now making his mark in Los Angeles by restoring Mid-Century Modern homes such as this Rex Lotery-designed showplace in Beverly Hills (PHILIPPE NAOURI MAISON).

Decades before the “starchitects” and their mega-mansion projects in Beverly Hills and Bel-Air, iconic Mid-Century Modern architects such as Richard Neutra, John Lautner, A. Quincy Jones, Craig Ellwood and Edward Fickett were designing timeless homes around Southern California. Their Modernism styles, noted for walls of glass, open floor plans, and post and beam construction, captured the essence of the indoor-outdoor California lifestyle.

Philippe Naouri standing in front of edward fickett-designed midcentury house

Designer-turned-developer Philippe Naouri stands in front one of his latest projects: a 4,200-square-foot Malibu property designed by noted Mid-Century architect Edward Fickett. The property is currently listed at $10,000,000 (PHILIPPE NAOURI MAISON | PHILIPPE NAOURI).

The linear and sleek designs many built as custom commissions in the fifties and sixties are perfect in their simplicity. Today, Mid-Century homes that have aged gracefully can boast eight-figure price tags after restoration and expansion. For example, a 4,200-square-foot Malibu property designed by noted Mid-Century architect Edward Fickett is currently listed at $10,000,000. No doubt, Fickett and his contemporaries would gasp at the prices these prized properties are selling for around Los Angeles. If these homes don’t sell before hitting the market (well-kept Mid-Century homes often have a line of patient buyers waiting in the wings), they receive multiple offers resulting in bidding wars.

philippe naouri malibu edward fickett midcentury house restored modernism architecture

Restored and maintained Mid-Century homes often have a line of patient buyers waiting in the wings, resulting in bidding wars when the properties hit the market (PHILIPPE NAOURI MAISON | PHILIPPE NAOURI).

Meet Philippe Naouri, the sought-after designer and creative director of the Los Angeles-based Philippe Naouri Maison, who purchased and restored the Fickett home.  A true preservationist, Naouri reimagines and redesigns Mid-Century gems from Malibu to Trousdale to the Hollywood Hills for today’s lifestyle while maintaining the integrity of the architect of record.

bedroom inside malibu edward fickett midcentury modern house philippe naouri

A bedroom inside the restored and reimaged Edward Fickett-designed modernist home in Malibu features contrasting hues softened by rich woodwork (PHILIPPE NAOURI MAISON | PHILIPPE NAOURI).

“Many people buy these homes and do teardowns since land is so expensive and the existing homes are often under 2,000 square feet.  Developers want the largest house possible on the property, so it pencils out for today’s market,” explained Naouri, who previously made his mark in fashion as a designer of vintage denim apparel for LA Antik Denim before turning his talents and vision to Mid-Century architecture.

kuderna house swimming pool walls of glass philippe naouri 2977 Passmore Dr, Los Angeles

Naouri recently restored the Craig Ellwood-designed Kuderna House in the Hollywood Hills. The house is currently for sale at $2.945 million (HILTON & HYLAND).

“My way of thinking is to site them keeping the views and make it larger to justify the price point when we put them back on the market. Buyers love Mid-Century, but they do want them with all of today’s amenities,” Naouri said.  Those amenities include everything from state-of-the-art kitchens to the ultimate smart home systems.

brick fireplace inside restored kuderna house hollywood hills craig ellwood

The floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace and kitchen inside the Kuderna House in Hollywood Hills (HILTON & HYLAND).

A longtime Modernism enthusiast, Naouri, born and raised in France, bought his first Mid-Century home at the age of 18 in Dallas. Part of Naouri’s restoration and redesign process includes restoring or replacing travertine flooring, walnut wood paneling and designing new kitchens and baths. As a steward of these homes, Naouri replaces clerestory windows with double-paned energy-efficient ones while expanding the home’s original footprint yet retaining inherent design integrity.

craig ellwood kuderna house 1956 passmore drive los angeles

The Kuderna House in the late 1950s. The house was built in 1956 by modernist architect Craig Ellwood (HILTON & HYLAND).

Mick Partridge of Beverly Hills-based Hilton & Hylandpartners with Naouri to market the properties.  Locating and securing architecturally significant properties for Naouri to buy, Partridge, the son of a well-known Los Angeles architect, understands the increasingly competitive niche of the Mid-Century market. As a successful real estate broker, Partridge works with Nouri to reimagine the homes that can be marketed and sold at price points to attract the right buyers who appreciate Naouri’s expertise.  Partridge exclusively markets and sells all of Nouri’s projects. “My office is helping build Philippe’s Mid-Century portfolio as we are doing a lot of architectural sales,” Partridge said.

Naouri is a prolific designer with five projects in Malibu soon coming to market and a Trousdale estate on Loma Vista offered at $20,000,000. In addition, the Kuderna House, an authentically restored Craig Ellwood case study home in the Hollywood Hills, is also on the market at $2,945,000.

philippe naouri maison dartiste trousdale beverly hills

An overhead view of one of Naouri’s latest projects: a sprawling Rex Lotery-designed house in the Trousdale section of Beverly Hills (PHILIPPE NAOURI MAISON | PHILIPPE NAOURI).

Naouri’s next passion project is the famed Chuey House on Sunset Plaza Drive, designed by Richard Neutra, one of the most iconic Mid-Century architects. “I will extend yet keep the original design while building around it and adding a second story and a guest house,” Naouri said, adding, “we will make it alive again.” To reimagine the Chuey House, Naouri worked with the Los Angeles Conservancy, with whom he has close ties. The project is expected to take over two years.

When looking at how a potential project pencils out, Naouri says he is often caught “between my love of the home and the practical financial side.”

maison d'artiste house malibu serra retreat exterior architecture

Naouri incorporates modernist staples in his newer projects, such as this $16-million modern masterpiece in the Serra Retreat area of Malibu (HILTON & HYLAND).

“Sometimes, I see an amazing house, and it’s priced too high for what I do, so I pass it on to friends to buy for themselves,” he said. “You must have an exit strategy.”

Assisting with evaluating the financial viability of a project is Partridge with his pulse on the market. “Philippe is considered to be one of the areas most gifted restorationists and developers. His homes are highly sought after and don’t stay on the market for very long,” Partridge said.

As the demand for prime Mid-Century properties continues, expect to see more of Naouri’s inspiring designs the original architects would be most pleased with.

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Author

I have covered the business of real estate (both residential and commercial) for over 25 years, including more than a dozen years working in the Forbes Los Angeles bureau reporting and writing about as I call it, Adventures in Real Estate. From the first tear-downs turning into mega-mansions in Beverly Hills to luxury condos as investments in Las Vegas, I follow the ups and downs of real estate markets around the country just for the fun of it.

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