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Inside a serene and minimal Los Feliz midcentury

A Los Angeles native scores his dream home, and a view of the Hollywood sign

Every week, our House Calls feature takes you into homes with great style, big personality, and ineffable soul. Today, we look at the Los Feliz home of Jacob Klempner, who owns a commercial casting company and who doesn’t take himself or his pared-down home too seriously.

Klempner had been combing the market for a new home for about two years when he stumbled upon his dream house. Though he was was motivated to move out of his Silver Lake condo, the house-hunting process had dragged on, because Klempner was “looking for something very specific.”

The two-bedroom in the Los Feliz Oaks, a collection of windy streets between Franklin Avenue and Griffith Park, checked off all the boxes for him. Built in 1949, the dwelling had the floor-to-ceiling glass windows and clean lines that Klempner had been hoping for.

Bertoia chairs and a teak “petal” table from Design Within Reach take up a corner of the house’s deck. In the background, the Hollywood sign is visible.

A clear view of the Hollywood sign was the icing on the cake for the native Angeleno: “To know I could end up living in a space with an iconic Los Angeles landmark in plain sight was something special.”

But, at the time, 2014, housing prices were rebounding, and that made Klempner’s outlook on actually securing the house of his dreams pretty pessimistic. “The market was kind of crazy,” he says, and, “trying to land a place was a little challenging.”

As luck would have it, Klempner knew the home’s owner through work. The owner had had purchased the house from a friend, and he was eager to continue the tradition of selling to a friend. Klempner made an offer—and the house was his.

Though he’s an LA-all-the-way kind of guy, he was still a little wary of moving in to the famously posh enclave of The Oaks. “When I moved in, I didn’t know what to expect,” says Klempner. “There was a part of me that worried it might be a little snobby. But I love being here, because it doesn’t feel that way at all.”

(Top right) The two George Nelson sconces that Klempner added to help keep the space bright. (Bottom) The ottomans are Commune for West Elm.

The narrow, serpentine streets don’t deter neighbors from reaching out to each other. The day he moved in, one neighbor knocked on his door with two bottles of wine, treats for his Havanese, Arthur, and an invitation to dinner that night.

After moving in, Klempner wanted to get more information about the history of the house, so he contacted the city and discovered the person who purchased the land was an architect named Paul Toebin. Klempner’s across-the-street neighbor told him Toebin had built the house as his own residence.

Klempner had hoped he might have an under-the-radar Richard Neutra or Harwell Hamilton Harris on his hands, but ultimately, he was pleased with what he found out about his new home. “I love the fact that [the original owner] built it for himself and his family,” says Klempner.

The master (left) and guest bedrooms (right) show of Klempner’s pared-down style.

The house was in amazing condition when he moved it, Klempner says, and there wasn’t really much to renovate. He did add recessed lighting in the living room and two George Nelson sconces near the windows. Despite a row of clerestory windows in the living room, “the lighting was so bad in here,” he says.

Klempner also “edited” the space a little, removing the bold, different-in-each-room wallpaper that popped up in various sections of the house. The brown wallpaper on the wall in the entry is a rare decor holdover from the previous owner.

Editing is a technique Klempner makes a habit of in his home. “I don’t like a lot of stuff [in my space],” he says. “If you’re not using it daily or often, at least, you don’t need to have it around.”

This mini gallery wall was a breeze to pull together. Klempner says he went on the online art site Society 6 and picked out all the pieces in about 20 minutes. In the background, Klempner and his dog, Arthur.

The uncluttered space and the cool, muted color palette that runs throughout the house combine with the hillside views to give it a feeling of serenity. But, tucked into places, there are humorous art pieces, such as a luminous photo of seniors hula-hooping on a beach in the entry way and a painting of Bill Murray as an 1800s admiral, that Klempner himself intentionally chose for their goof factors.

“There are moments that this place can feel grown up or serious, and I don’t feel grown up or serious ever,” he says.

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