View Master


Written By: Karen Buscemi

Steve Hermann had plans to spend some time in his latest home set high in the Hollywood Hills. That is, until someone made him an offer he couldn’t refuse.

The 4,900-square-foot home sold for $12.6 million, and though the sale gave Hermann two weeks to move into a quick rental for the time being, the self-taught designer and builder isn’t complaining.

The concept of the three-bedroom, four-bathroom house, originally a ranch that the designer took down to the foundation, was to take some references of mid-century modernism – including ample windows, an open floor plan, and bringing the outdoors inside – and translate them to today. The result is a New York-style loft that blends perfectly with a California lifestyle.

He put more than half the square footage into the living room, dining room, and kitchen, housed in a 70-by-35-foot space with 13-foot ceilings and glass on three sides. The view” downtown Los Angeles all the way to the ocean.

The house begins with a 130-foot-long hallway, with glass on one side and a natural stone interior wall with insets for vases, and opens up to the great room and the view of the city, which figured prominently into the design.

Hermann found creative ways to define the rooms without adding walls. In the kitchen, he dropped the ceiling six inches, and between the living room and the dining room, the designer added a custom bench that became part sitting area, part orchid display. The area rug also adds to the separation.

In the great room, the kitchen cabinetry is from Varenna, and Italian manufacturer, and the thin countertop is a brushed stainless steel. Hermann also wrapped stainless steel around the outside of the drop ceiling to unify the kitchen. The living room couches were custom-made from a Los Angeles-based company called Twentieth, while the dining room table is from B&B Italia, Hermannn preferring the finishes and detailing of Italian design. The use of 4-inch recessed can lighting, lining the ceilings throughout the home, provides a sparkling, magical quality.

The flooring throughout the house is poured-in-place terazzo, which Herman says is the most expensive flooring available. The epoxy-based floor is mixed with marble chips and poured in place, then it’s ground down seven times to smooth it to a mirrored polish.

All the doors is the home are from TRE-Piu, another Italian manufacturer. They are straight-grain oak with aluminum frames that have thin, hidden aluminum hinges.

The master bedroom offers one of the more intimate views, with a telescope slider that opens the entire width of the room, sliding back into a hidden pocket inside the wall and revealing the deck and the city. The designer decided against a railing along the deck, not wanting to interrupt the view. The other walls in the room are a serrated limestone tile that was scraped with a wire mesh to create veins and texture. The furniture is by B&B Italia.

The master bath fixtures are from Agape, another Italian company. The countertop is high-gloss lacquer with an integrated glass sink that shows only a glimpse of the edging. The drain is cleverly hidden underneath the countertop. From the steam shower, the mostly glass room offers views of Century City and the ocean.

A movie theater boasts custom-built stadium seating, a built-in stage in natural straight-grain oak that frames the projection screen, and padded fabric walls to soundproof while creating the right effects inside for the theater’s sound quality.

Outdoors, a Jacuzzi with infinity edge is elevated inside the kidney-shaped pool, creating a fountain effect. There is built-in seating lining the perimeter and three long fire pits placed in front, providing both warmth and a hypnotizing feel as the pool reflects the flames.

Hermann, who has been designing for more than 15 years, says he’s never taken one class for his craft and prefers to create his own projects, such as this house, and then sell it once it’s completely finished.