Hsu McCullough

Hsu McCullough

Los Angeles, CA


Bell Canyon Residence

With homes completed throughout numerous neighborhoods of Los Angeles, Hsu McCullough turned their attention northwest to Ventura County designing a home in the remote hillside community of Bell Canyon, California.

Located at the eastern edge of the canyon, this private residence sits on a one-acre parcel with established trees, sprawling lawns, flowering gardens and includes a main house, a detached recording studio, and a swimming pool / spa.

The main house is a 4,000 sf., single-story modern ranch home with open spaces built for a young family of four: a graphic designer, a noted musician/composer scoring soundtracks for film, television and video games and their daughters.  

Set against a backdrop of mountain outcrops, this house is configured in an “L-shape” floor plan with the 90-degree interchange of the “L” forming a Great Room consisting of a Living Room, long Kitchen and Dining Room.

This space is punctuated by a series of wide multi-slider glass doors positioned to frame the gardens and patio beyond while the concrete floor transitions from inside to out.

The family wanted an escape from the city with more space for their young children to play surrounded by nature.  This one-story ranch residence incorporates four appealing outdoor areas —an entry garden with pond at the front, a patio and pergola covered dining with mature trees at the back, a swimming / spa garden splitting the detached music studio from the house and a large side yard lawn to the South with rose garden and children’s playground.  The lot is wrapped around an equestrian trail at the North, West and South property edges embracing the singe story home.

The Bell Canyon Residence exemplifies Hsu McCullough’s permutation of a sprawling California ranch house with contemporary interior comforts and unique daylighting features.

The long horizontal frontage beckons visitors to pass through a modest front yard garden obscuring the walls of dark plaster and painted brick to reveal a wood-clad entrance door at a small covered porch.

Once inside, a Foyer with low ceiling opens to the vaulted Great Room that makes use of celebrated dark bronze Fleetwood Aluminum multi-slide glass doors framing expansive lush gardens of flowers and mature trees with patio, outdoor dining pergola and swimming pool:  perfect for entertaining.

The outdoor garden imparts an unmistakeable romantic theme - immediately welcoming as well as comfortable for relaxing and playing at home while offering a relief from creative work at the detached music studio.

The home reflects the Owners and Hsu McCullough's shared belief in the integration of architecture and nature - the building responds to it’s environment rather than imposing itself on it’s setting.

On the interior, the Great Room comprised of the Living Room, Kitchen and Dining Room features the space defining massive 18-foot long, triangular-shaped clerestory window pressed to the underside of the ranch’s main gable roofline.  This window beautifully lights the Kitchen island below while framing a cluster of diverse mature trees lining a horse riding trail to the North 15 feet off the floor.

The cabinetry of the Kitchen and Living Room are custom high-gloss white lacquer finished with Rosewood cabinet accents strategically placed including the 19-foot long island with seating, preparation sink, dishwasher and storage.

The Kitchen island and aligned-on-axis Dining Room table are celebrated by unique pendants offering contemporary embellishment to the minimal space.

A 60-foot long central passage carves a path from the aforementioned Great Room and Foyer to the private Bedroom Suites:  This hallway is capped by an enclosed shower garden - accessed from the Master Bath - open to the sky above and the south lawn beyond.  In lieu of using recessed lights or wall sconces, the architect’s dreamt of a clever architectural detail that offers diffused daylighting / moonlighting of the home’s main corridor.  The detail was formed by pealing the low-pitched gabled roof back at the high ridge line, opening the 60-foot long hallway to the sky via a series of seven obscured Solatube skylight systems and a sharp-angled drywall trim edge:  Inspired by a James Turrell art installation, this detail directs the natural light (as well as light from an obscured continuous LED strip when desired) to the East corridor wall via the 6-inch wide by 60-foot long cove shaping the glow uninterrupted:  An elegant distillation of Hsu McCullough's painting of interior spaces with various qualities of light - direct and diffused.

The Master Suite at the South end of the home is private.  The Bedroom opens to the yard at the east via glass sliding doors with a large bathroom overlooking the South lawn and mountains.

The Bathroom connects to individual walk-in closets as well as a large open shower with glazed wall framing the shower garden.  The shower is annexed from the lawn for modesty with electromagnetic privacy glass.

A flick of a switch allows full obscurity of the exterior clear glass door or full visibility of the South garden beyond as desired.

The natural materials used throughout the Master Bathroom embody a spa/retreat feel.

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Status: Built
Location: Bell Canyon, California
Firm Role: Architect / Designer
Additional Credits: Photos by Dan Arnold