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The Case Study Houses Program: Richard Neutra’s Bailey House

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The Case Study Houses Program also included the participation of Richard Neutra, who designed the Case Study House 20 in 1948.

When the no. 20 was built, Richard Neutra was the most well-known and respected architect taking part in the Case Study Houses program. The main features of this house, simple lines and an extensive use of glass, steel and wood, were the architect signature for most of his late 40s projects.

The assignment was to build an affordable house for a young family, the Baileys, easily expandable over time as the members of the family, and financial resources, were growing.

For the Case Study House 20, Richard Neutra faced two very common issues of that time: a limited square footage and low budget. Two-bedrooms only houses were the rule for young families after the war: keeping the size and budget low was mandatory. However, in this case, the abundance of land surrounding the house allowed for future additions.

For an architect as Richard Neutra, the space-limitation was an easy challenge which he solved designing flexible spaces, furnished with multipurpose pieces and fittings but also borrowing space from the outdoors.

The kitchen, as an example, opens to the backyard which becomes the dining area or can be used for outside house-works. Even the car porch could be eventually closed and roofed to obtain an extra room.

Richard Neutra’s Case Study House 20 has a simple facade on the street side and opens up in the backyard. Sliding glass doors that connect private rooms and common areas directly with the outdoors were a solution adopted for other houses of the project, as the Case Study House 18.

The wide, glass and aluminium sliding doors open the living area to a slate paved terrace, a patio with an amazing sea-view, which helped to gain living areas for its dwellers.

Following the principles of a flexible furnishing, Neutra arranged the beds to get as much natural light as possible while a proper lighting system made them also suitable as sofas, so that people could easily read and relax.

A widely adopted solution to reduce future redecorating costs and maintenance of Mid-century houses, was to use natural materials to panel walls and ceilings. The the Case Study Houses were no exception. Richard Neutra used different types of wood to decorate each room. Light birchwood for the bedrooms, walnut wood as a contrast in the living room and kitchen to balance its enamel finished fittings. He chose mahogany for the dining area while light elm decorates the entryway.

The common space is lightened by a series of continuous east windows, a large glass front door and a window facing the patio.

Hidden lights in the ceiling and unnoticeable light fittings over the dining table create an highly flexible lighting scheme for different needs and room’s usage. Neutra paid attention to every detail, to optimize the living experience of the Bailey family. The closet doors were as important as the color of the slate paving, because the whole and the details had to work together to make even a simple two-bedroom house a success.

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15 comments

  1. Amazing house, and great pictures. I wish I could have seen a floorplan though. I love floorplans.

  2. Hi Erik, I sent you an email 😉

    Thanks for reading and ciao.

  3. Very nice write up! I’m with Erik on this one – I do love floor plans as well. Is it possible to ask for those if you have them?

    • Hi Conrad, thanks…then you should also like the last post about the story of the Case Study Houses Program. Did you already read it?
      Check your mail for the plan 😉

      Keep on following and spread the love for MCH!

      Ciao,

      Marco.

  4. I have read it and thank you for the email! This is a very helpful site for my research on influential house designs. Mid Century Home is a wealth of knowledge. Keep it up!

  5. I knew Dr. Bailey and stayed at his house several times although I live in England. The house was beautiful and I was sad to see it has been rebulit by the new owners after Dr. Bailet died. Are there any pictures of what it looks like now?

    • Wow! How cool is this? Lucky you…
      Unfortunately I did not have any pic of how the house is today. I suppose is still a private residence.

      Which part of the house you liked the most?

      Thanks for sharing!

      Ciao.

    • Hello Mr. Sharp,

      The house was sold at my father’s passing to the next door neighbor who committed to rebuilding the house using a copy of the original floor plans that I gave the builder. The middle section, the play room, was not rebuilt and that area serves as the connecting path between the two properties. I have never been back to see it, but I am informed that the construction was beautifully done.

      I hope that you are in good health at this time and in the future.

      Dale M. Bailey

  6. Hello Marco!!! Breathtaking house and photos!!! Here I am over a year later. I read above that you kindly sent plans to a few people who requested them. Might I bother you for the same? I would love to see them.

    Thanks again, I really enjoyed seeing and reading about these beautiful homes!!

    Kind regards, Lita

    • Hey Lita, I would be glad to help you. Let me know for which house you would like to see the blueprint and I’ll do my best 🙂

      Ciao,

      Marco.

  7. Love your site! I’m fascinated by the Case Study House Program. It’s amazing to see the styles today that can be credited back to Eames, Saarinen, Neutra, et. al.

  8. Hello Marco,

    I am also very interested in seeing any available floor plans you have for the Neutra Baily House. If you could please email me what you have, I’d be very grateful.

    Thank you, Michael

  9. Hi Marco,

    Interesting write up! Though I would love to see the floor plans, which is the essence of a structure, to help me understand the spaces even more.

  10. I really like this house. I’ve been trying to find plans and details that could help me understand the prefab aspects of it, so that I could build a model. Do you have any ideas where I could find those? I asked the architects that did the restauration but, since the house is private and still in use, they’re not allowed. But I’ve been wondering if somewhere there’s an archive with the historical plans and drawings…can someone help me? greetings from Berlin!

    • Hey, thanks for stopping by 🙂

      In the book I mentioned at the end of the post there is a plan of the house…it is not very big though.
      Have a look there to see if it is what you need!

      Let me know if it was helpful.

      Good luck!

      Ciao,

      Marco.

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