Bringing a modernist marvel back to life.

How do you bring a classic back to life? A modernist marvel at the edge of the Pacific Ocean in Malibu, California, the Hunt House was designed in 1957 by Craig Ellwood, Jerrold Lomax, and Jim Tyler for Victor and Elizabeth Hunt. It was at risk of demolition until, in a moment of kismet, Diane Bald and Michael Budman came across the house on a walk.  

Twelve years (and countless mini-dramas) later, Diane and Michael completed a top-to-bottom restoration of the house, an undertaking that involved taking the house completely apart and putting it back together. 

They called on Jim Tyler from Ellwood’s team and architectural designer Barton Jahncke to restore the house to its original glory. 

X marks the spot 

The X-shaped cross-braces – a fixture found throughout the house – were restored. 

“[This] is the center point, and it’s also original,” Barton says. 

 

With flying colors 

The Hunt House is known for its distinct façade, but when the team chipped away at the sea-green paint during renovations, they were surprised to find a warm blue hidden underneath. So they opted to match the original shade.  

“It picks up the sea color and the sky,” Diane says. “It’s just magnificent.” 

 

It’s all in the details 

From piping to plating, every fixture was carefully considered. Pieces from industrial designer Henry Dreyfuss were either restored or recreated to match the original midcentury details. 

“The fun part is all the finishes that we kept  the little details that no one ever pays attention to,” Barton says. “We were able to reuse 95 percent of what was here, from cover plates to paneling to hinges. And if we couldn’t reuse it, we readapted it for something else.” 

 

Heirloom quality

Diane and Michael even tracked down some of the original furniture, recovered from a warehouse. 

 

Completely floored 

Jute was swapped for comfortable cork flooring, which also serves as a natural insulator.  

 

A private escape 

They also rebuilt the sundeck in ash wood, kiln-dried to protect against humidity.  

“Here you’re just sort of like in your own world,” says Diane. 

“Every time I walk into this house, I get goose bumps,” she adds. “It literally still takes my breath away every time I come through the door.” 

 

Photos courtesy of the Bald / Budman Family and by Aaron Limoges.