Jason Statham—he of action-thriller films like the Fast & Furious franchise, Snatch, and The Transporter—may not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of midcentury modern design fanatics. But it takes only a few minutes of conversation with the actor to realize he has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the movement’s design philosophies, major architects, and, perhaps most important, where to buy houses that fit the description. “Put me in a glass box and I’ll be very happy,” he says, laughing. “There’s just something really appealing about the symmetry and openness of things,” he says of the homes.
His eagle eye for midcentury fixer-uppers is was what first drew him to a house on Rising Glen Road in Los Angeles, coincidentally just across the street from where he lived when he first moved to the city. “I’m always looking for places to either renovate or to buy, to move up the ladder,” Statham says. “This one sort of came out of the blue and had a certain charm. It was quite downtrodden and had been neglected, as most of these of midcenturies have.” Statham quickly decided to purchase the place and gut renovate it to serve as a multi-use property for guests, as well as his office and gym.
Working in concert with his longtime architect Jeff Allsbrook of Standard Architecture, Statham decided to keep as much of the existing shape of the exterior as possible, while outfitting the interior with top-of-the-line modern amenities. “We sort of fell into this world of pulling a piece of wool on a jumper [sweater] and you just kept going,” he says with a chuckle. “I never really had a budget. So, all the finishes became really expensive—it became quite an indulgent year.” The renovation took the pair 18 months to complete.
Major improvements were almost all done with aesthetics in mind. One of the largest projects was the conversion to a ductless heating and cooling system by laying the HVAC underneath the concrete slab, so as not to disturb the sight lines of the carefully chosen cedar wood ceilings. Even the color of that architectural concrete was the result of much trial and error. The hue needed to work in harmony with everything from the white interior walls to the landscaping in the yard, as the flooring was used for both indoor and outdoor spaces. “Somehow, to build a new house would have been easier,” Statham says. “But in doing a renovation, we got to be instructed by some of its original appeal, like the butterfly ceiling and the drop-down that basically allows you to run the cedar ceiling up from inside the house all the way out to the overhangs. They’re things I don’t think we would have done if we’d have drawn it on paper.”
In addition to creating a pitch-perfect midcentury modern design, Statham also had the house kitted out with gym accessories that could put Equinox to shame. Inside, the ceiling was reinforced so the actor could hang heavy bags, gymnastic rings, and other equipment necessary for his training. Outside is a barrel sauna complete with an oversize heater and, on the other end of the spectrum, a Hoshiazaki ice maker and stainless-steel immersion tub for Statham’s beloved ice baths. “People don’t like to think about getting into a tub of ice,” he says. “But the benefits are so huge. It’s quite a popular form of training now.”
For Statham’s guests who perhaps aren’t into hard-core workouts and submerging themselves in freezing temperatures, the interiors of the house are a tranquil, minimalist respite from the frenetic pace of city life. The four-bedroom, three-bath home also has plenty of room for the actor’s U.K.-based friends and family, who sometimes descend “en masse” to spend time with him. Statham worked with interior designer Courtney Applebaum to create a neutral palette of whites and earth tones, with texture in the form of leather couches and chairs, and sturdy wood tables and desks. “My lean is towards Danish furniture,” Statham says. “So this is slightly different. Courtney’s an artistic, cool individual. And she was so great at placing a few bits and keeping it all nice and minimal.” Guests also benefit from the sleek bathrooms, which Statham had designed as an homage to one of his favorite architects, John Pawson. “He did a house called the Baron House, which had a particular sort of concrete tub and vanity. And I somehow just thought that would fit nicely,” he says. The gray, monochromatic look is refined without seeming cold, especially since light streams in from the large windows.
Inside Jason Statham’s Perfectly Appointed Midcentury Modern Home in L.A.
Sunlight was especially important to Statham: “In the U.K., everything is just these tiny rooms with a fireplace. Every house looks the same—they’re all red brick—and they’re very different to California midcentury architecture,” he says. “So, [here] when you get floor-to-ceiling glass and it connects the indoors with the outdoors, it’s almost like this free-flowing connection. There’s just something very Zen-like, and it gives you a certain sense of relaxation.”
And though he’s clearly passionate about this home, his urge to flip it is greater than the urge to hold on to it, and it is currently on the market. “It’s the one thing that keeps me going: property, architecture and interior design,” he says. “I’m constantly looking and trying to find the next project to be a part of. I think it’s part of how we’re made up; we just love change. Change is always good.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest