A Visit to Saddle Peak, Los Angeles
Our managing editor Roshan McArthur pays a long overdue visit to one of our most loved homes, architect Michael Sant's masterpiece in concrete and glass—Saddle Peak.
If you're lucky enough to have spent any time in Los Angeles, you'll know it's a city filled with mountains—rugged outcroppings covered in arid chaparral and topped by giant boulders. Among these is Saddle Peak, a crest of the Santa Monica Mountains that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and Catalina Island on one side and the sprawling city and valleys on the other. On a clear day, you can climb to the peak and see all of that. Luckily, there are many clear days in Southern California.
It's here, at the end of a steep, winding road, concealed behind a corten steel gate, that you'll find Saddle Peak, a home of the same name built by architect Michael Sant. Perched improbably on a skinny plateau far above the ocean and anchored by one of those vast boulders, it's a breathtaking accomplishment, not for its scale, but for the audacity of its location and the simplicity of its form.
Inspired by LA modernism, it features 14 concrete walls that were poured in place. Conceived by the architect as extensions of the plateau, they have an almost Stonehenge-like feel, emphasized by the space between them. As you walk round the huge boulder that sits between the gate and the house, it's that absence that hits you. Or perhaps more accurately, it's the light that hits you. Walls of glass allow you to look straight through the structure to the sea beyond it, and the house is reflected skyward by the glass-like pool. It's a dramatic welcome.
And yet, for all the drama and transparency, this is a home of great warmth. Walk inside and that's what you notice first. Interiors feature the same concrete as the exterior, but alternating with hardwood panels, timber-framed sliding windows, and slatted screens, all lit up by the sun. That light creates reflections and shadows that keep the home in constant motion and endlessly fascinating.
This a space that celebrates both the beauty of the landscape and the power of human design. Interiors are sparsely decorated, but each piece—including contemporary lounge chairs by Hans Wegner, a Jasper Morrison sofa and lamp, side chairs by Stefan Diez, and an oak dining table by Ferdinand Kramer—has been painstakingly selected. Saddle Peak has been thought through to the minutest of details, yet it somehow feels effortlessly light.
If you're a fan of contemporary architecture or just feel like treating yourself to the best views in Los Angeles County, add Saddle Peak to your list of must-see destinations. It sleeps up to eight guests and is also available for photo shoots. Start your journey here.
Photographs: Roshan McArthur