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MOD SQUAD TOUR OF VALLEY'S MIDCENTURY MODERN HOMES A TRENDY BLAST FROM THE PAST.

Byline: Diana McKeon Charkalis Lifestyle Editor

It was love at first sight for Robyn Van Dewark.

As soon as she walked into the 1955 midcentury modern tract house in Tarzana, she immediately saw the potential in its vaulted ceilings and open floor plan. Although the windows lining the back of the house were covered with shades, she could imagine them exposed, with light pouring in from the expansive backyard.

``We were looking for a modern home, but I never imagined we'd live in a house like this,'' says Van Dewark, 29, who bought the place with her boyfriend, Joe Moshier, two years ago. ``It's the kind of house I'd only read about in books.''

Van Dewark and Moshier will share their affinity for modern design Sunday when they open their home as part of the L.A. Conservancy's ``Spectacular/Vernacular'' event. The tour takes a look at six examples of modern design in the Valley, focusing on everything from tract housing to custom designs by well-known architects like Lloyd Wright, son of Frank Lloyd Wright.

``High-style modern design has gotten all the glitz and glamour,'' says Trudi Sandmeier, director of education at the conservancy. ``We wanted to tie it in and connect it with the everyday houses you see every time you drive to the grocery store.''

Van Dewark and Moshier's home is one of two models designed by the L.A. architecture firm Palmer and Krisel that are featured on the conservancy tour. Their home is part of the Fieldstone Series, a tract of 13 higher-end houses. Each measured just under 1,700 square feet and sat on one-third of an acre, with four bedrooms and three baths.

Since they purchased it in 2004, Van Dewark and Moshier pulled up carpets to reveal the original oak parquet floors, removed window treatments, and even salvaged original kitchen cabinetry from other homes in the neighborhood.

``We totally saw the potential,'' says Moshier, a character designer at Walt Disney Feature Animation. ``The previous owner had kept everything dark, covered. We were looking to maintain the integrity of the design.''

In addition, they decorated the house with items that reference the era in which the house was built.

``Everything we buy now has to go through the design filter. Even if it's just a coffee maker,'' says Moshier, laughing. ``We have to think about anything that's going to be seen.''

This required numerous purchases on eBay, discovered by simply typing in ``midcentury modern.'' There were many shopping trips and compromises.

``We're not millionaires. Modern furniture is so expensive. Sometimes you have to choose your battles and let IKEA take care of the rest.''

Just a block away, another home designed by Palmer and Krisel is also part of the tour. It's part of the development known as Corbin Palms, a tract project that included nearly 300 homes. Owners Ken Yerke and Bill Yaryan have lived in the house for 10 years. ``There wasn't much interest in these houses back then. People didn't know what they were,'' says Yaryan. ``But we bought the house because we loved its style. We brought it back to exactly the way it was when it was built.''

Before midcentury homes were fashionable, Yaryan went to City Hall and did research to learn more about their home's history. There he discovered that the house was indeed a Palmer and Krisel, not the design of Edward H. Fickett, another popular architect who designed thousands of tract homes in the Valley.

Yaryan says that over the years he's seen a growing number of Palmer and Krisel homeowners develop pride in their modern homes' design. ``It's like a little network,'' agrees Moshier.

He hopes the movement will spur an increased interest in preservation of other homes like theirs throughout the Valley.

``It's nice to get to this point -- to see these houses getting the attention and respect they deserve.''

Diana McKeon Charkalis, (818) 713-3760

diana.charkalis@dailynews.com

OTHER HOMES ON THE TOUR

Adams House

(The Mat House)

Lloyd Wright, 1938, Reseda

Architect Frank Lloyd Wright believed that a well-designed, affordable home was the right of every working man. Inspired by this sentiment, Bill Adams of Reseda wrote to the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright and requested a house plan for his property. Too busy to accommodate him, the architect directed Adams to his son, L.A. architect Lloyd Wright.

Lloyd Wright was commissioned to design the house and came up with a plan but removed himself from the project after a dispute with the homeowners over roofing materials.

Ultimately, Adams paid him $50 for his designs. The entire house was designed to be built for $2,500, including design, materials and labor. The actual cost was closer to $1,500, because the family did most of the work.

Eventmakers Estate

Benton and Park, Sherman Oaks, 1963

Meadowlark Park

Architect: Edward H. Fickett

Builder: Ray Hommes, Reseda, 1953

Coolidge/Walcott House

Architect unknown, Encino, 1956

`SPECTACULAR/VERNACULAR' TOUR

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Tickets: $25 for L.A. Conservancy members, $30 for nonmembers.

Available for sale beginning at 10 a.m. Sunday, at Yerke/Yaryan House, Corbin Palms, 6118 Jumilla Ave., Woodland Hills.

More information: www.laconservancy.org.

CAPTION(S):

9 photos, box

Photo:

(1 -- cover -- story) MODERN love

Valley homes tour accents beauty, charm of midcentury architecture

(2 -- color) The clerestory windows in Moshier and Van Dewark's bedroom, left, a hallmark of midcentury modern architecture, let light into the room without sacrificing privacy.

(3 -- color) The couple's 1955 home is decorated with items -- including the eBay-acquired seals, above -- that reference the era in which the house was built.

(4 -- color) Joe Moshier and Robyn Van Dewark relax in the dining area of their four-bedroom, three-bath midcentury modern Tarzana home. ``We were looking for a modern home, but I never imagined we'd live in a house like this,'' says Van Dewark. It's the kind of house I'd only read about in books.''

Andy Holzman/Staff Photographer

(5 -- color) Ken Yerke and Bill Yaryan did research at City Hall to learn about the history of their Palmer and Krisel-designed home. ``We brought it back to exactly the way it was when it was built,'' says Yaryan.

(6 -- color) Adams House

Lloyd Wright, 1938, Reseda

(7 -- color) Eventmakers Estate

Benton and Park, Sherman Oaks, 1963

(8 -- color) Meadowlark Park

Architect: Edward H. Fickett

Builder: Ray Hommes, Reseda, 1953

(9 -- color) Coolidge/Walcott House

Architect unknown, Encino, 1956

Larry Underhill Photography

Box:

OTHER HOMES ON THE TOUR (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Oct 28, 2006
Words:1088
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