amazing Small House Design Salishan, Michael Clifton, Designer 1985-1987
‘A Peaceful Place for Friends to Meet’ (translation of the North American Indian word, Salishan) aptly describes this striking Santa Fe Style Architectural home designed by Michael Clifton. When Michael and his wife Maryann Kuk purchased the small (2500 sq.ft.), steep, triangular lot on West Silver Lake Drive in 1975 with the idea of building a house on it, most of their friends thought they were crazy. While neither one of them were ‘particularly’ fond of the Southwestern Adobe style, the couple took a decade of consideration to evaluate the site, and picked a style based on the way they thought the house should ’emerge from the site’.
It took nearly two years to complete the project. While tall, Salishan hugs the steep terrain on a verdant hillside like an ancient sentinel, reminiscent of the great cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde, CO (built by the ancestral Hisatsinom in A.D. 600-A.D. 1300). The exterior is pure Southwestern Adobe in style, while the interior is mainly contemporary, with Southwestern influences. The large windows facing the east and the lake provide spectacular ‘pictures’ of the lake below and the mountains in the distance, maximizing the view while differentiating the interior spaces. The windows on the backside of the house are smaller, conserving energy.
Salishan is located at 2011 West Silver Lake Drive. Michael Clifton is the son of Elmer Clifton, Silent Screen Star (‘Birth of a Nation’) and Director (‘Down to the Sea in Ships’) and Screen Playwright Helen Marie Clifton. Prior to his career as a designer specializing in home-building and remodeling, he helped launch the Los Angeles Music Center in 1964 and created the center’s ‘Performing Arts Magazine.’ He and Maryann Kuk married in 1976. Maryann, a real estate agent for Housing Solutions, has been a leading advocate and pioneer on issues concerning Silver Lake’s open reservoirs since 1987, the year the DWP announced plans to cover Ivanhoe Reservoir and build a filtration plant in the 6-acre meadow of Silver Lake Reservoir. Her activism, in concert with the Silver Lake Reservoirs Conservancy has been instrumental in preserving Silver Lake’s open reservoirs. She has served as President of the Silver Lake Residents Association (an early advocate for a LA Public Library branch for Silver Lake; groundbreaking in June 2007) and Founding Member of Friends of Silver Lake Library (FOSSL).
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