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‘Architecture Junkie’ Ryan Murphy Lists His Latest Project: A $33.9 Million Richard Neutra

Writer and producer Ryan Murphy is known for creating vivid worlds with his TV shows, whether it’s in the upbeat high-school musical show “Glee” or the dark thriller “American Horror Story.” In his free time, he does the same thing with houses.

Over the past few decades, the self-described “architecture junkie,” has purchased and renovated more than 10 houses, from a Manhattan townhouse with Wabi Sabi-inspired interiors to a circa-1800 home on Cape Cod. Sometimes he lives in the homes with his family, but more often he sells them and moves onto the next project.

“My addiction is not cocaine or alcohol. It’s carpeting and, you know, ottomans,” Murphy, 58, said with a laugh.

One of his recent projects is a Los Angeles Midcentury Modern designed by the famed architect Richard Neutra. Known as the Brown House, the glass, wood and concrete home was built in the 1950s to follow the contours of a hill above the Bel-Air Country Club.

Murphy purchased the house, which had been previously owned by designer Tom Ford, in 2022 for $29 million. Then, he spent more than a year restoring the house with interior designer Trevor Cheney and landscape architect Scott Shrader. Now he’s putting it on the market for $33.9 million.

The five-bedroom, roughly 3,800-square-foot house has a double-wide living room with views stretching to the Pacific Ocean.

While filling the home with art and collectibles, part of Murphy’s inspiration was “Feud: Capote vs. The Swans,” an FX limited series he was working on at the time, set in the 1970s.

“Babe Paley could have lived in this house,” Murphy said, referencing the famed socialite depicted on the show. “She actually did live in houses like this.”

Murphy has long been fascinated by interior design. As a young boy, his parents allowed him to redecorate his room in their modest Indianapolis tract house each year. The first year, the inspiration was the iconic New York nightclub Studio 54, which Murphy read about obsessively in gossip columns. He transformed his room into a version of the venue with black carpeting, silver walls and a disco ball. The following year, the space became a tribute to the films of Alfred Hitchcock.

“I think it really started my career, in a weird way,” Murphy said of his room decor, “because if you’re a showrunner, all you really do is create worlds. That’s what that job is about.”

It also jump-started his love of art and architecture, he said. His family’s living room contained a large replica of the famous pop art “Love” sculpture by Robert Indiana, and Murphy loved sneaking it into his own bedroom.

“[My parents] understood, I think, that I was a little off-center,” Murphy said, “but they encouraged that part of me.”

When he started buying and renovating houses, he incorporated a similar philosophy. “All of my homes are done in a very specific style—each one of them is a mood,” Murphy says. “When I go to a house, I want a different mood.”

In 2001, he paid $2.5 million for his first house with the paycheck from his hit television show, “Popular.” The Carl Maston-designed Midcentury Modern in L.A. was the first house he ever saw that had a urinal in the bathroom. “I was like, ‘Oh, this is so creative.” When actress Dakota Johnson bought it a few years ago for $3.55 million, the first thing she did was rip out the urinal, he said.

Design has also been an outlet for Murphy’s self-described obsessive compulsive disorder. He still makes his own bed every morning, he said, because no one else does it correctly. It took him an hour, he said, to make one of the beds in the Neutra house before a photographer came to shoot the property.

“My father told me…‘If you only do two things a day, take a bath or a shower and make your bed. You will have started your day with an accomplishment,’” Murphy remembered.

Murphy’s primary home is in the Los Angeles area, where he lives with his husband, photographer David Miller, and their three sons aged 3 to 11. The family’s other homes include the Manhattan townhouse, the Cape Cod home, and a 49-acre estate in Pound Ridge, N.Y., which they purchased for $24.15 million in 2023 from actor Richard Gere. Murphy is remaking the property as a functioning farm with a 3-acre edible garden. He’s also turning a barn into a living space and constructing a greenhouse and a chapel, where he hopes one day his children might be married. “I just wanted to live in nature with my kids,” he said.

When it comes to buying homes, Murphy tends to be smitten immediately. “Houses are like love affairs,” he says. “You either have a chemistry…or you don’t.” When he first saw the Neutra house, he said, he was instantly drawn in, in part because the wood paneling gave off a “smell of earthiness and freshness.” The home is surrounded by foliage, making the primary bedroom feel like a treehouse, Murphy said, while long windows in the dining room overlook the garden.

A ramp leading to the home’s entryway is framed with tall, cantilevered bars. Inside, the entry hall is minimalist, with walls clad in walnut paneling and terrazzo floors. The living room has a fireplace and sliding-glass doors leading to an expansive terrace, said Murphy, who never lived in the house but did use it for business meetings and dinner parties.

Murphy restored the original terrazzo flooring, black mosaic bathroom tile, and wood paneling throughout the house, which had to be stripped, conditioned and oiled. He also transformed the garden, reorienting it around a 17th-century fountain he added. Fake grass was replaced by a type of gravel used by Neutra on his projects.

When it came to decor, Murphy wanted to warm up the home, making it softer and more inviting. With Midcentury Modern homes, “the lines can be severe,” he said. So he filled the house with objects and furniture from other “mid centuries” throughout history, making the property an homage to design from the last 500 years. He enjoyed choosing furniture and paintings that seemed to conflict with one another, he said, such as a piece of contemporary art next to a 19th-century Biedermeier table.

Murphy loves going to auctions and furniture and antique fairs; earlier this year, he attended the TEFAF Maastricht fair in the Netherlands with a group of buddies, including designers Jeremiah Brent and Nate Berkus. Living among so many collectibles can be risky with three young children, but Murphy said he takes his cues from his own mother.

“She never said a room was off limits,” he said. “Life is to be lived and you know, fingerprints are part of the territory.”

Some of the pieces he used in the Neutra house were collectibles he had in storage, such as an antique silver collection. It also contains items left by Ford, such as a built-in settee. Murphy said he’s willing to sell most of the home’s contents along with the house for a negotiated price.

Homes designed by sought-after architects can sell for up to 60% more than comparable homes, said Aaron Kirman of Christie’s International Real Estate, who has the listing with Riley Schmidt and Timothy Wollaston of Riley Real Estate. In 2022, the Neutra-designed Kaufmann House In Palm Springs, Calif., sold for $13.06 million, a record for the area.

https://www.wsj.com/real-estate/luxury-homes/ryan-murphy-lists-richard-neutra-home-for-33-9-million-4b065c28?st=5ygelw54bpxh9cw&mod=googlenewsfeed

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