Boutique Travel - October 26, 2018

A Perfectly Restored Fickett Home

By Lyn Yip

Edward H. Fickett is a name that is passing through the lips of more and more people in the know as this mid-century architect’s canon of work is resurfacing from… well, plain sight.

Think of Edward H. Fickett as the sleeping legend of mid-century modern architecture. Ironically, this architect who became a bit of a brand name by the age of 37 and designed approximately 50,ooo homes during his career, was forgotten for a while because of the sheer ubiquity of his creations in California. They seemed to be everywhere, and anything that’s everywhere can’t be special, right? Wrong.

Born and raised in Los Angeles, Fickett had made his career designing tract homes for housing estates, which explains the numbers. Back in the day, purchasing a Fickett home was a point of pride, a class above other tract homes. Tract homes were a sector often shunned by architects of his time due to the mass production cookie-cutter image it carried, but Fickett had no such hangups. A big believer of “ending ugliness”, he spearheaded a campaign in 1962 by the American Institute of Architects to do just that.

It is clear from Fickett’s work that he values affordability, and while he was sought after by housing developers because he appreciated the golden rule of keeping costs down and sales high, it never occurred to him to compromise sleek design and the feel-good factor. This is reflected in the high ceilings that found their place in even the smallest of his tract homes, and the way his homes, tract or custom (Fickett designed some fantastic custom gems too) live with the changing light of day.

Remembered as a tall, good-looking, life-loving guy who worked hard and nourished himself with music and art and played a wicked game of tennis right till the end, Fickett’s human factor must have played a central role in his success. Like many of the big names of mid-century modern, he too was drawn to the tidy lines of modernism, but managed to put his own preferences at bay to answer to the concerns of housing developers who were addressing a more conservative crowd. A telltale sign of a Fickett home could be a classic-ish ranch exterior hiding undeniably modern interiors.

Today, mid-century design lovers are stirring the legend that is Edward H. Fickett, and his houses are finally back on the radar. However, after years of being out of the limelight, many Fickett homes have been gutted and done-over to remove what was considered old-fashioned traces.

This Fickett gem, nestled in the hills off Mulholland Drive, is one of few Fickett homes restored carefully with the great architect in mind. This home has perhaps the most enjoyable of Fickett’s signature touches: High ceilings and light that enters through walls of glass and skylights in floods or streams, depending on the time of day. Open plan interiors and dividing slumpstone walls that don’t go up all the way are also typical Fickett, allowing for brilliant circulation and adobe-like finish that adds texture to the composition.

The owner has added his own updates to the rejuvenated canvas of white walls and blonde wood paneling. Area rugs softly delineate living areas with an overlay of playful geometry and soothing hues. Paola Lenti’s curvaceous pieces were chosen for plush seating, making the interiors pop with giant knits and sumptuous colors. An Eero Saarinen Tulip table anchors the dining corner, surrounded by a host of Eames DSW chairs in citrusy tones— a fresh integration of indelible mid-century classics.

Book a stay at this Edward H Fickett to experience a bit of history, and enjoy it for the museum that it isn’t.