Iconic houses: John Lautner’s Sheats-Goldstein House is a concrete marvel

American architect John Lautner's cliff-side, cave-like mansion is an extension of the nature that surrounds it

los angeles home
Photography by Ngoc Minh

Angular, dramatic and sleek, the Sheats- Goldstein House perches on the edge of Benedictine Canyon in Beverly Hills, offering jaw-dropping views from every room. Designed by American architect John Lautner in 1963 for Paul Sheats and his artist wife Helen, the home’s bold geometry, vast concrete roof, broad frameless glass walls and striking interior belie its 56-year heritage and give it an intrinsically contemporary feel.

living room los angeles home
Photography Ngoc Minh

Lautner studied under architect Frank Lloyd Wright, where he inherited his love of natural materials. Add the influence of technology and the pre-space age optimism of the late 1950s and early 60s, and you have a recipe for this startling creation. Inside, he used a palette of wood, steel, leather, concrete and glass. There is little decoration and not a single 90-degree angle in the entire house. This eccentric design meant that furniture also needed to be asymmetrical and all the fittings were specifically designed by Lautner.

The house is in constant dialogue with the outdoors and the boundaries are blurred

dining room los angeles home
Photography by Ngoc Minh

Natural light sparkles throughout, with hundreds of small skylights – made from 750 glass pieces – inset into the lofty concrete sail that forms the living room’s ceiling. The house is in constant dialogue with the outdoors and the boundaries between inside and out are blurred; a large glass skylight extends above the dining room table and entire glass walls can be opened electronically.

pool los angeles home
Photography Ngoc Minh

The current owner, James Goldstein, who bought the property in 1972, worked with Lautner and project architect Duncan Nicholson to further unite the property and its two-acre garden (think tropical forest rather than suburban lawn). After Lautner’s death in 1994, Goldstein and Nicholson continued the restoration together and added an office, guesthouse and nightclub. Lautner said he aimed to create ‘a living space that’s completely flexible yet never lacking in grace and sophistication’. It certainly achieves that goal. johnlautner.org; jamesfgoldstein.com

This article first appeared in June 2019 issue of Elle Decoration

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