In the early 20th-century, architects designing houses for the balmy climate of Southern California were influenced by the style of the villas and palaces that dominated the architecture of Italy, France, Spain, Greece, and Morocco, and a few other North African locales. The resulting style-noted for its pleasing combination of simplicity and dignity, for its often asymetrical undecorated facades-reflected romantic, European forms, and yet distinguished itself by adding American ingenuity. Prime examples of this include Villa Narcissa, widely celebrated for its unimposing grandeur, and Casa Leon, with its stunning hillside location and ocean views. Included here are residences by noted architects such as Julia Morgan, Bertram Goodhue, Addison Mizner, George Washington Smith, Wallace Neff, and others. While some of the houses are lavishly decorated villas with lush landscaping, others are more spare, creations; what all these interpretations of the California Mediterranean style have in common is an indoor-outdoor approach to living.
Melba Levick is a widely published and exhibited photographer who works and lives in Paris, Los Angeles, and Spain. She is the photographer for Rizzoli's Casa California, Estate Gardens of California, Great Gardens in Small Spaces, and many others. Marc Appleton is principal/president of Appleton & Associates, a Santa Monica-based architecture firm. He is a member of numerous organizations, including the California Preservation Foundation and the Historical Society of Southern California.