Spec House: A House with No Owner


The relationship between an architect and a homeowner is critical to the success of any project. The task can be even more difficult when there is no homeowner. That’s the situation we find ourselves in right now with a spec house we’re building for a longtime client in Trousdale Estates, a neighborhood of Beverly Hills. Because we don’t know who the ultimate owner will be, we’re designing it with as many possible amenities as we can imagine a potential buyer could want. That includes his-and-her bathrooms and closets, a game room, a home theater, a car turntable in the four-car garage, a butler’s pantry, and a pool, spa and sauna.

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Our design aims to keep the home’s organization clean and simple. The large, open public spaces are aligned along a central axis, flowing from the front entry straight through the living room and dining room to the indoor/outdoor terrace overlooking the pool and unobstructed views from Catalina to Century City. The expansive master suite falls to one side of this central entertaining space. Guest suites, each with their own private bathrooms, are clustered on the opposite end of the house. Service and staff quarters are housed on the lower level. Extravagant, moody nooks and quiet corners for lounging and contemplation arise around unexpected corners.

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Strict building codes in Trousdale Estates limit construction to the line of the level pad. That means that even though the lot size is more than 20,000 sq. ft., the maximum footprint for building was less than half that. Our landscape design, therefore, seeks to take strategic advantage of small pockets where elements of nature may contrast with the sculptural form of the house. Arbutus trees serve as the focal point of the front courtyard, while in the back, the landscaping acts as a carpet, extending and framing the views off into the horizon. 

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