Southern California significantly expanded and evolved during the mid-1900s. So many iconic homes were built between the 1920s and 1950s, with several prominent architects and designers having forever left their marks on Los Angeles’ residential communities. From housing tracts to custom luxury homes, there are so many different architectural styles found throughout this area.

Visionary Home Builders

Then, there are those influential home designers whose work became more celebrated over time. William Mellenthin, Robert Byrd and Jean Vandruff are a few of these names. They were the visionary minds behind many homes built during this important era. Today, their original designs have become highly sought-after among LA’s most discerning homeowners.

Chris Lukather—An Inspired Author

Our friend and former real estate client, Chris Lukather, has turned his passion for these distinctive mid-century homes into three amazing books. Chris is editor of The Writing Disorder, which is an online literary journal that publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry and other literary pieces on a quarterly basis. He is a graduate of the California Institute of the Arts and has always had an interest in local architecture.

The Homes of William Mellenthin

When Chris and his wife were searching for a new home many years ago, they came across several listings promoting homes designed by William Mellenthin. He wasn’t familiar with the name and there was very little information published about this designer, but he was drawn to the architectural style of these homes. Chris started doing more research and found that he had designed and built more than 3,000 homes throughout Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. He was able to track down William’s son, Mike, who was also a successful local home builder. Eventually, he saw the opportunity to write a book about the life and unique “Birdhouse” home design concepts created by Mellenthin.

Learn more and purchase your copy of the book:

A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes

The Homes of Robert Byrd

While doing research about Mellenthin and his Birdhouse homes, many people thought Chris was talking about another influential designer from the same era: Robert Byrd. He began building homes in the 1920s. By the 1950s, his homes exemplified the iconic California ranch house style. Byrd was instrumental in the residential growth of Los Angeles, with many of his custom luxury homes located in high-end communities like the Hollywood Hills. Plenty of celebrities have been known to own Byrd houses. And like Mellenthin, Byrd’s homes have grown in desirability throughout the years.

Naturally, Chris was inspired to write another book focused on Byrd’s architectural history. He was able to compile a collection of original photographs and design plans. He researched the story of Byrd and his son, Gary, who worked closely with his father for almost 20 years. With both of them having passed, Chris had to dig deep to find the necessary information and resources. Eventually, he was able to access an incredible collection of original plans and photographs. We also helped him get some more recent photos of Byrd homes through our local real estate connections.

The book will be out by the end of December, but pre-orders are available here:

Homes By Byrd: The Art & Architecture of Robert Byrd and His Son Gary

Book Promotion Appearances

Chris will be attending some special events to promote the Robert Byrd book. On January 22, 2023, he will be doing a Zoom presentation with the Society of Architectural Historians/Southern California Chapter. On March 15, 2023, he is doing an in-person presentation at The Los Angeles Breakfast Club in Los Feliz.

The Cinderella Homes of Jean Vandruff

You may also want to check out Chris’ other book, which is about Jean Vandruff’s suburban Cinderella Homes found throughout Los Angeles and Orange County:

The Cinderella Homes of Jean Vandruff: Fairy Tale Tracts in the Suburbs

We highly recommend checking out all of Chris’ books, especially if you are interested in classic Los Angeles architecture like us. From mid-century to contemporary, we love learning about these different design styles and how they have shaped Southern California’s residential lifestyle.