Connected to Nature

The Taylor House shares Neutra’s ‘biorealism’ philosophy

Located at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac on a hillside overlooking a California nature reserve, The Taylor House is a unique modernist home designed by Richard Neutra, one of the most influential architects of the 20th century.     

Built in 1961 for Maurice and Marceil Taylor, the property—which sits on more than a half-acre in the Verdugo Woodlands—was previously featured on the Glendale Historical Society’s “Icons of Architecture” home tour.

A pioneer in mid-century modernism, Neutra experimented constantly and was known for his “biorealism” philosophy: the idea that man and nature are inseparable, and that people instinctively feel more comfortable in an interior where they can communicate with nature on the outside. This became a recurring theme in Neutra’s architecture over the years—he embraced technology and sought to incorporate biological sciences in architecture so that a home’s design exploited the realm of the senses and interconnectedness to nature. He believed that being connected with nature daily was fundamental and essential to living a longer, happier and less stressful life.

The Taylors were lovers of the outdoors, and the house is a perfect example of Neutra’s philosophy with its expansive glass walls that offer sweeping views of the hills throughout the entire length of the home. The property is surrounded by tall California live oak trees and vegetation, offering a closer look at the splendor of its peaceful environment. At the end of the driveway, the two-car carport beautifully merges with the openness of the home’s natural surroundings. A large, shaded patio surrounds the exterior of the home, framed by several large oak trees.

“The Taylor House is reflective of Neutra’s late work, which reflects all that he learned over a lifetime in architecture,” says Crosby Doe, the listing agent for the property. “He really worked on letting the indoors merge with the outside of this house. The long, exterior lighting feature illuminates the indoors as well as the outdoors, eliminating the black mirror effect that occurs in many houses with glass walls and windows at night. It brings the outdoors inside—even after dark.”

The dwelling resembles a rectangular glass box and has a roofline that hangs over the large, front-facing windows. The flat roof is supported by thin pillars that, from a distance appear to blend into the background, giving the illusion that it is floating above. The obscured front façade offers privacy from the street, while the interior is open and connected to nature via floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding glass doors, blurring the boundary between indoors and outdoors.

“There’s an element of magic and the mystery to the home site and the way that Neutra placed the house,” Doe shares. “There’s a great sense of openness and privacy at the same time.”

The interior features 1,477 square feet of living space with two bedrooms and two bathrooms. In the entryway, a dark burlap panel slightly delays the reveal of the home’s views when one first walks in. The open-concept living area is framed around a large freestanding fireplace with a floating hearth flanked by brick columns. Last sold in 1997, the current owner lovingly restored the property a decade ago, preserving many of Neutra’s details and mid-century modern elements, including the red brick walls, vintage tile floors and wood panel cabinets.

“The house retains most of its original historic fabric, which can be quite rare,” Doe shares. “In the kitchen, everything is original except for the refrigerator.”

Outfitted with mahogany cabinets and vintage appliances, the kitchen is flooded with natural light from large windows that stretch along the wall. In one corner, a cozy dining nook sits against a large glass window that looks out into the garden.

The floor-to-ceiling windows continue into the master bedroom, which is a calming refuge basked in natural light. The master bathroom suite includes a special feature: a shower with a glass wall that opens, transforming it into an open-air bathing space that merges the indoors with the outdoors.

“Neutra was a master of orienting a house to its views and to its landscape,” Doe says. “He was always deeply concerned with relating the inside of the house to the outside, and this property offers a rare opportunity for nature to completely surround the house. Being at the end of a quiet dead-end street further enhances that sense of total privacy. And in today’s environment where people are currently sheltering in place, what better place to do that than here?”

The Taylor House is listed by Crosby Doe.