Frank's Depression-Era Modern Home in Franklin Hills

Frank's Depression-Era Modern Home in Franklin Hills

Marcia Prentice
Apr 4, 2013

Name: Frank Novak, Co-owner of Modernica
Location: Franklin Hills, Los Angeles, California
Size: 1,800 square feet
Years lived in: 18 years

You may have met Frank at his store, Modernica, or you may have seen him running around during the craziness of their factory sale downtown. Those who have had the pleasure of meeting him know that he is very knowledgable about collecting antiques, Mid-Century furniture, and California design. 

I was feeling like a very lucky to have been invited to tour Frank's home. I expected his home to be filled with beautiful Mid-Century furniture, but it has even more depth than I imagined. The style of his home could be described as 'Depression-era modern.' There are an abundance of white and sterile surfaces — it's a very spare, almost hospital aesthetic. 

Take a peek in Frank's kitchen and you will find metal cabinetry, in keeping with the style of the house. Frank also keeps up with painting all the walls on a regular basis, so they stay a very clean and stark white. Because I have heard many stories of architecturally significant homes ending up being remodeled in a way that completely dismisses their architectural relevance, it was refreshing to meet someone who has such a passion for honoring a home's original character.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Inspired by my Depression-era modern house. I love pre-war American Modernism, especially machine age art deco.

Inspiration: The house inspired me to honor its spirit and bring it back to feeling period correct. All decisions and purchases were made with this goal in mind. I did find a period correct refrigerator, but it ran on poisonous ammonia gas, so I traded it to Antique Stove Heaven for my Western Holly stove.

Favorite Element: Limestone coping and plinths on the pool. 

Biggest Challenge: Restoring the steel casement windows.

What Friends Say: Great views!

Biggest Embarrassment: The backyard isn't finished.

Proudest DIY: I removed every piece of hardware and either replaced it or stripped the paint off.

Biggest Indulgence: The pool, designed by Judith Sheine and Nadim Itani. As pools are so impractical, I thought that the least I could do was to make it an architectural element that complemented the house.

Best Advice: Don't try to renovate your house all at once. Do a little at a time and consider the intent of the designer and the era. In time you will understand the soul of the house. 

Dream Sources: A salvage yard that would always have exactly what I'm looking for

Resources of Note:




  • Art from various sources such as the Rosebowl, eBay, and the LA Modernism Show and Lisa Cliff
  • Table and ceiling lamp from Jean Perzel
  • RM Schindler couch, chairs, and tables


  • Russel Wright dining and other antiques from various antique pickets and stores



  • Bed and Lief mattress from Modernica
  • Bubble lamps from Modernica


  • Castiglioni lamp from Ylighting
  • Modernica for Eames desk and shelving, Case Study daybed

Thanks, Frank!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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