Kelly Lynch Talks Modernism Week, Passion for Design (Q&A)

Mike Dorsey
Kelly Lynch and Richard Oyler

The actress' Lone Pine home, designed by renowned architect Richard Neutra, appears in a new documentary premiering Tuesday in Palm Springs.

The Magic City alum Kelly Lynch and her writer-producer husband, Mitch Glazer, live in — not one, but two — architecturally significant homes in Southern California.

There's the John Lautner-designed home in Los Feliz that they famously outbid Leonardo DiCaprio to acquire, and subsequently restored to perfection. And then there’s their desert retreat, a 1959 post-and-beam Lone Pine house designed by Richard Neutra in 1959. The latter is the subject of a new documentary, The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat, that will premiere Tuesday at Modernism Week in Palm Springs.

Before her Neutra-designed home hits the big screen, Lynch talked to The Hollywood Reporter about the film and her lifelong passion for design and architecture.

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Your home is starring in a movie. What’s the backstory?

Well, one thing that I love is that whenever you see any type of mid-century architecture in film or on TV, it’s always the home of the extremely smart, evil criminal mastermind. The nice people never live in these kinds of houses. But the truth of the matter is that the nicest people have built these houses. Working people were the ones who built these houses, not devious Bond villains. And this film really shows that.

What kind of people were the original owners?

The movie is about Richard Oyler, an extraordinary ordinary man. He’s incredibly humble, and you fall in love with him. It’s very moving — how this simple guy found his way to building a house in the desert. He educated himself about architecture and decided to write to Mr. Neutra about designing a home for his family in Lone Pine, thinking it would never happen. But it did. And it changed Mr. Oyler’s life and his family’s life. He became a builder as a result.  

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When did you first see the house?

When Mitch and I first came to L.A., we fell in love with the mid-century architecture here, and we set out to find a house. We met Crosby Doe, who ended up changing our lives. He suggested we look at this property in Lone Pine in 1992, and we completely lost our minds when we saw the house. It’s the most beautiful site I’ve ever seen. It’s 13 acres and then beyond is Land Management so it looks like you own the universe. A huge boulder had been dynamited out and turned into a pool. But the truth is, it’s a modest house. Mr. and Mrs. Oyler and five children grew up in a three-bedroom with a pool. There was a real feeling of love. It was a true family house.  

What else are you planning to do during Modernism Week?

One of the main things I’m really excited to do is the Albert Frey tour. I have to say, he’s one of my favorites. I’m looking forward to that. I’ve seen so much Palm Springs architecture now and I adore it there. And I especially love that Modernism Week doesn’t coincide with Oscar week this year.

The Oyler House: Richard Neutra’s Desert Retreat — directed by Mike DorseyRichard Oyler's grandson — premieres Tuesday at 3:30 p.m. at the Palm Springs Art Museum's Annenberg Theater (101 N. Museum Dr., Palm Springs). Find more details here.