A Modernist Gem In La Jolla Designed For Mom

This oceanfront house in La Jolla was intended to feel like home. Mom’s home, actually.

The Midcentury Modern was designed in 1958 by Frederick Liebhardt for his own mother.

The architect apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright after being inspired by his mentor’s Fallingwater residence in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands. Considered an architectural tour de force, the structure pays homage to its site, blending in with its natural surroundings through design and materials.

Liebhardt adopted Wright’s organic principles in his own practice, where he also emphasized function.

“I like to think that things have a use,” he said in a 1996 San Diego Union Tribune interview. “To put up (buildings) just to be handsome is not a good idea.”

Since the days his mother used the home, it has been reworked twice. Henry Hester, with whom Liebhardt once worked, designed the first remodel. The house was later renovated by Hill Construction and New York City-based designer Eddie Lee, known for his fusion of traditional and modern styles.

The current iteration emphasizes the original indoor-outdoor concept, while refining it with clean lines and contemporary updates.

Set on a one-acre promontory, the 6,338-square-foot residence is positioned closer to the ocean than its next-door neighbors, allowing expansive whitewater and coastal views. Floor-to-ceiling windows and French doors reveal the panorama from inside. A teak deck with built-in benches and a section that artistically juts out toward the sea offer further vantage points.

The entry level contains the main living spaces, the kitchen and the primary bedroom, which features dual bathrooms and closets. Walls of windows flank a fireplace in the living room, which is crowned by a vaulted wooden ceiling. The dining room opens to the deck. There’s a wet bar in the family room.

The modernized kitchen has been reenvisioned with sleek white cabinetry, stainless appliances and smooth plank floors. The counter backsplashes and base of the island are a vibrant blue, a color which carries over to the breakfast area banquette.

The structure encloses the central swimming pool area on four sides and protects it from shoreline breezes. Shallow steps lead up to a deck that appears to float above the water.

Skylights, a window seat, built-ins, beamed ceilings and a fireplace are among details in the four bedrooms. Listed at $14.9 million, the two-level residence has five full bathrooms and three powder rooms.

Drew Nelson and Tim Nelson of Willis Allen Real Estate have the listing for 6266 Camino De La Costa, La Jolla.


During four decades of covering luxury and celebrity housing, I’ve looked into people’s homes, lives and property records through many lenses. I was the Los Angeles Times Real Estate section editor for eight years, the Hot Property columnist for six and did stints as a newspaper reporter, copy editor and page designer. My work for The Times Business, Home and Real Estate sections has garnered in-house and national awards for blogging, editing and feature writing.

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