Chandler jumped at the idea, and the Times Home Magazine House was born. On Jan. 5, 1958, a nine-page spread detailed the architecture by Edward H. Fickett, with interiors by Arthur Elrod. Photos showed the quintessence of California cool: an indoor-outdoor plan with a soaring post-and-beam ceiling.
Walcott, a photographer's agent, and Coolidge, a commercial photographer, went to see the house in 2006 when it came on the market for the first time in 40 years. The couple were fans of Fickett's work; their previous residence also was a Fickett.
"We came here and just fell in love with the house," Walcott says, recalling how the three-quarters of an acre felt bigger because of the sense of privacy and quiet. "We jokingly call it happy valley."
Walcott opens the front door and notes that the house retains its original floor plan -- "very natural and open," he says. "There's not a lot you need to, or can, do to it."
The volume and airiness of the foyer are impressive. An open-beamed, cathedral-like ceiling dominates the living room; glass walls front the yard. Light floods into the house, not just from the windows but also from the adjacent hallway. The corridor links the living space to the more private areas in the back, but it also acts as a towering light box: A long bank of skylights forms its spine.
Despite the high ceilings, the house exudes intimacy and warmth, partly because of the wood on the ceilings, walls and floors.
"It's rough-cut red cedar, and we find it beautiful," Walcott says, adding that a restoration specialist vacuumed and brushed years of dust out of the grain.
In some areas, he and Coolidge installed walnut flooring in place of tile that the previous owner had added. Among the benefits: better acoustics.
"We wanted to play off the wood walls and soften the feel," Walcott says.
The wood surfaces are complemented by exquisite furniture and art from the 1940s through the 1970s. In the center of the living room, upholstered modular blocks resemble a string of oversized marshmallows.
"These are Mario Bellini pieces from the '70s," Walcott says. "I love the exaggerated chesterfield tufting and the fastening bolts and carabiners, so you can reconfigure it into a pit or anything else. We collected these pieces from around the world. I love how the softness of them plays off the clean lines of the room."
As architecture aficionados with an interest in preservation, Walcott and Coolidge struggled with the question of replacing original features with modern touches that better suited their needs and taste.
"We debated everything," Walcott says. "There were no quick or easy decisions."
He gestures to the high ceiling of the kitchen, which is narrow but feels open. Sunlight reflects off the white surfaces.
"It was a great old kitchen, but it had some things that were hard for us," Walcott says. "We were torn: The original Heath tile was beautiful. But we needed to increase our counter space, storage space and make room for modern appliances."
In the end, they kept the footprint but changed the countertop, installed new appliances and removed the washer and dryer for more storage.
"We wanted to try to use the products Fickett would have used," Walcott says. "The only place we varied that was for the countertops."