L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Decorating

Palisades house aims to make modern feel warm

Vision House L.A.Designer Jill Wolff narrates a pictorial tour of Vision House Los Angeles, a luxury demonstration home in Pacific Palisades, in this latest installment of Pro Portfolio. The occasional feature looks at a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer.

Vision house1Project: Green demonstration home dubbed Vision House Los Angeles.

Interior designer: Jill Wolff, Jill Wolff Interior Design, Calabasas. Architects: KAA Design, Culver City, and P2 Design, Newport Beach. Builder: Structure Home in collaboration with Green Builder Media.

Designer's description: Normally, I work collaboratively with clients, but because this is a spec house, I had to imagine a family with a son about to leave for college and a younger daughter. I want people who view this house to come away with a feeling of surprise about its comfort, coziness and warmth. I want them to see that sustainable design really can be comfortable, and that if they’re clever, they can use their creativity to make their own home more sustainable.

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Patio umbrellas for summer: We're seeing a pattern

Frontgate suzani umbrella Patio umbrellas are available in nearly every conceivable color, but what if you’re looking for a distinctive pattern or print? We scouted some of the newest designs on the market and found that whether your look is a bold stripe, a refined damask or modern Scandinavian graphics, these textiles can be less about shade and more about fun. Take a look:

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Dwell on Design 2012: Modern fun this weekend

Play Modern

Kohler colored sinksIt's time to play: Dwell on Design, the annual expo of furniture, fixtures and finishes for the modern home and garden, is running this weekend at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Staff writer Lisa Boone and producer Dianne de Guzman walked the convention floor on Friday to get some early impressions.

They found Misha Tome sliding down the Cuba playhouse by Play Modern, above. The modular system consists of cubes that can be configured in different BeSpoke consoleways. Indoor models are made from Baltic birch plywood with a clear finish, and outdoor models are made from marine-grade plywood with a dark finish.

MORE PICKS: Dwell on Design 2012

Above right: Lori Erenberg, left, and Saehee Simmons looked at color samples for Kohler's new sinks in a range of bold hues.

Below right: The BeSpoke Creative console throws some curves, with a sleek white exterior complemented by maple and birch plywood interior.

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Spare closet turned into hidden home office

Closeted home office
Small home offices are big right now, according to the National Assn. of Home Builders, and when my colleague Lisa Boone wrote about the trend two months ago we invited readers to share photos of their pocket offices. Among the photos that rolled our way was this design sent by Katie McAuliff, a Chicago designer whose firm, LB Interior Design, converted a client's spare closet into a space-efficient work area.

Closeted home officeThe project was a reminder that anyone with a guest bedroom, kids playroom or TV room could equip the closet as a pocket office without losing the function of the rest of the room. It's an idea we saw done well when profiling the Studio City home of furniture designer Reza Feiz a few years ago (photo below).

For those DIYers among us, we posed some additional questions to McAuliff, who worked on the project with business partner Lindsay McDonell. We asked for specifics about how they put the space together for this edited Q&A:

Could you tell us a bit more about the doors? Are they powder-coated metal or painted wood? And is that a strip of wood delineating the colors?

The doors were made with three Wilsonart laminates and a raised piece of wood trim to separate colors. Laminate is a little tricky for the DIYer (and requires routers, files, etc.). To achieve this look, my advice would be to paint the colors onto existing doors, then add the trim pieces using glue and small nails. [McAuliff credits the doors pictured here to Brian Haughey of BH Woodworking.]

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L.A. at Home photo gallery archive open for touring

Schindler houses Inglewood
Our home profiles are collectively meant to represent the here and now, whether that means side-by-side Schindler houses in Inglewood with a shared front yard for an improved sense of community, above, or an architect's Laurel Canyon retreat that delivers a wonderful sense of privacy. A Midcentury Modern residence remade with some Latin American flavor, or a traditional Craftsman bungalow built as a family DIY project. Eames, Wright, Lautner. Santa Monica, Hollywood Hills, Ojai, Joshua Tree. We've been there and covered that. You will find dozens of our most recent profiles in our archive, so check it out. And if you see a cool house with a great story, email us at home@latimes.com.

HOME TOURS: The L.A. at Home photo gallery archive

Photo: Joel Bell helps son James traverse the garden in front of twin houses by Modernist icon R.M. Schindler in Inglewood. Credit: Katie Falkenberg / For The Times

Vision House in Pacific Palisades opens for public viewing

Vision House L.A., a newly built home meant to showcase some of the latest in green technology and design, is a project of Green Builder Media, L.A.-based builder Structure Home, L.A. architecture firm KAA Design, the Newport Beach firm P2 Design, Calabasas interior designer Jill Wolff and Westlake Village landscape architect MJN Design Studio
Green "demonstration" houses loaded with what are touted as the latest in environmentally conscious technology and materials may have ebbed with the real estate crash, but a development-and-design team in Los Angeles is about to revive the idea with the Vision House.

Billed as a luxury green demonstration home, Vision House is a collaboration of Green Builder Media and L.A.-based builder Structure Home, which worked with L.A. architecture firm KAA Design, the Newport Beach firm P2 Design, Calabasas interior designer Jill Wolff and Westlake Village landscape architect MJN Design Studio.

Vision House L.A., a newly built home meant to showcase some of the latest in green technology and design, is a project of Green Builder Media, L.A.-based builder Structure Home, L.A. architecture firm KAA Design, the Newport Beach firm P2 Design, Calabasas interior designer Jill Wolff and Westlake Village landscape architect MJN Design StudioSome of the house's features -- an ultraviolet light air-purification system, mold-resistant shower and duct systems, solar panels, a central vacuum system, Gaggenau appliances that include a countertop steamer and a refrigerator with motorized shelves -- are more about function than design beauty. But decorating fans won't be disappointed.

The kitchen, laundry area and bathroom have dramatic textural wall finishes using Porcelanosa tile, at right. Eco-friendly furnishings from Cisco Home include side tables made from repurposed car parts and light fixtures made from reclaimed blown glass. (Asked if the cotton and linen fabrics were kid-friendly, Wolff said she washed all of the slipcovers, brought them to the house in a garbage bag and put them on -- without an iron.)

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Bend's Geometric Trophy Heads: cool minus the kill

Bend Trophy HeadsHunting-lodge taxidermy may have outstayed its welcome as the ironic home accessory of the last few years, but at least people looking for a different animal-inspired design to hang on the wall have a new option — no rifle required.

Marina del Rey-based design firm Bend just introduced geometric wire animal heads at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York. The collection, called Geometric Trophy Heads, is made of powder-coated iron. No stuffed fur, no glazed eyes, just the animal kingdom evoked with clean and simple lines. At least they look simple. “They're actually created with bends and angles that are based on complex formulas,” Bend founder Gaurav Nanda said.

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Pet moss as the new pet rock?

Mossquarium-moss-ball-PotteThey're called "mossquariums." The Atwater Village store Potted introduced them this spring: living balls of spongy algae that are oddly cute.

They're sold in kits that include decorative rock, colored glass, shells and a piece of driftwood.

Potted said they can be packaged for shipping and should last for months.

Best of all, they don't hog the bed or growl at the neighbors (so embarrassing). Price: $55 to $79, depending on the size.


Open house as pop-up shop

Ilan Dei's new Cord outdoor furniture

Patchwork fever: One-of-a-kind looks

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times

Instant ambience: Outdoor candlelight and bonfire log

Mood makers for your patio, deck or balcony

Mood makers for your patio, deck or balcony, clockwise from center: The Light ’n Go Bonfire Log is kiln-dried birch with an internal wick that promises to deliver a big flame for at least two hours. (Fire alarms in our photo studio persuaded us to keep ours unlighted, so it's pictured with a tea light on top.) The log is $12.98 at Home Depot, where it can be found with the firewood. A spokeswoman for the company that makes the Light 'n Go said it's also sold at some Albertsons stores, among other places.

Stuck into the log are three cast-iron Pipe candle holders by Menu, $35 apiece from A+R. The gray, patterned Orla hurricane ($19.95) and votive ($9.95) candle holders are from Crate & Barrel. The bottle-shaped mercury glass candle holder is $34.95 at the Juicy Leaf. The beeswax candles shaped like apothecary bottles are $11.25 and $15.75 at Firefly, which carries larger sizes too.

The large oval oil lamp looks like terrazzo but is lightweight resin; it's $19.95 at CB2. A small candle wrapped in birch bark was $10 at Colcha, which has the candles in a larger size.


Long Beach Pixie ToysLong Beach's hot spot: Bixby Knolls

Highland Park's emerging shopping scene

South Coast Collection: cool in Costa Mesa

Uptown Design District, Palm Springs' shop central

-- L.A. at Home staff writers

Photo: Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times


'Girls' on HBO has a breakout star: Charlie's apartment

Girls Charlie studio mainSorry, “Girls.” When it comes to home design, the latest breakout star of the HBO series belongs to one of the guys: the apartment of Marnie's wet-noodle of a boyfriend, Charlie.

“It looks awesome in here,” Marnie says upon seeing the studio for the first time, even though they have been a couple since 2007. “It looks like a Target ad. It's perfect.”

“A Target ad?” an annoyed Charlie responds, showing a hint of an emerging backbone. “It's not quite a Target ad, but whatever.”

Whatever, indeed. Charlie's apartment turns out to be more complex than Marnie could imagine. Conceived by production designer Laura Ballinger Gardner, submitted to series creator Lena Dunham for her approval and then built from scratch — all in just four days — the fictional 12-by-12 studio set in the Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn is a character unto itself.

Girls Charlie rendering
“We knew from the script that he lived in an older, not good apartment, but he had taken a small studio and done something wonderful with it,” said Gardner, who also is production designer for “Veep.”

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