L.A. at Home

Design, Architecture, Gardens,
Southern California Living

Category: Remodeling

Before and after: Family-friendly L.A. loft remodel

Cha:Col loft living room
Chinmaya Apurva Collaborative recently completed its first interior loft renovation, a 1,574-square-foot space rethought as a series of areas for parents and child to rest, work and play. The project, completed in December, is the latest installment of Pro Portfolio, our Monday feature that looks at recently built, remodeled or  redecorated spaces with commentary from the designers.

Cha:Col loft windowsLocation: Downtown Los Angeles.

Designer: Chinmaya Apurva Collaborative, which also goes by Cha:Col. General contractor: Alex Taslimi, Taz Construction. 

Designer's description: The clients -- husband, wife and 3-year-old daughter -- bought this historic loft in the South Park neighborhood of downtown last summer. The couple needed a flexible space for living as well as occasional home-based work. The building is seven floors high, the top three of which were added by the developer.  This unit is on the fourth floor, giving us the opportunity to design within the historic structure.

Cha:Col loft planWhen the couple purchased the loft, it had spartan, unmaintained finishes including synthetic wood flooring; reinforced concrete (or RC) columns with granular, degenerating stucco; RC beams; retrofitted aluminum-framed windows; and exposed HVAC and electrical work along ceilings, concealed within partition walls.

The clients needed a flexible live-work plan as well as a separate space for their daughter. The budget was extremely limited, so at the outset we decided to limit the scope of the project to  interior mill work and finishes.

We worked extensively with 3D models and drawings to establish key sight lines. These were required so we could define separate zones without losing visual continuity between any of them. First, we defined all areas that were beyond the limited budget. We then cut an  existing utility room in half and redesigned it as an open, flexible workspace with integrated shelving. Storage was relocated to a new partition wall. We then built open shelves to separate spaces yet leave porous boundaries.

To see more, keep reading ...

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Earthy modern: new Marmol Radziner house in Venice

Megan Schoenbachler is distracted. While giving a tour of her family's Marmol Radziner-designed house in Venice, she notices the light and the angle from the second-floor master bathroom, looking over the courtyard hot tub and toward the kitchen on the first floor. “That would make a great shot,” she suggests in a friendly tone to a Times photographer, gesturing to her husband down below in the kitchen. “Open the window, Jonathan,” she says as he slices potatoes.

The photographer tries the picture. Green ferns and the rustic spa are reflected in glass. Jonathan Sela is outlined by a charcoal gray frame around the window. The house's indoor-outdoor beauty comes through perfectly. The shot offers a hint of how Schoenbachler, herself a photographer, and Sela, a cinematographer, applied their eye during the house-building process. Though the couple turned to a noted architectural firm to guide the design, their house is still very much their vision: indoor-outdoor, family friendly, modern but warm and inviting.

The couple were inspired to build a new house after they fell in love with architect Ron Radziner's home, seen on the Venice Art Walk years ago. After remodeling two houses in Venice — one Spanish, the other ranch — the couple knew that this time they wanted something modern for their growing family.

PHOTOS: Marmol Radziner house, warm and family friendly

Tour the Marmol Radzinger house 360°

On a narrow, 5,000-square-foot lot near Abbot Kinney Boulevard, Schoenbachler and Sela's house has the qualities typical of Marmol Radziner's work — efficient, modern, striking in its apparent simplicity — as well as a lush landscape that brings some softness to all the clean lines.

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Celebrity hair stylist gives English cottage some Hollywood glam

Robert Vetica, left, and Giorgio Vetica in the living room of their Los Angeles home
In the last five months, hair stylist Robert Vetica has traveled to San Francisco, New York, Mexico City, Hong Kong and Rio de Janeiro, working with actresses Cate Blanchett, Jessica Simpson, Naomi Watts and Hilary Swank. Fortunately for Vetica, he doesn’t have to go far Sunday, when he preps Salma Hayek for the Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

Vetica homeBecause he travels more than half the year for work, Vetica treasures his moments at home in Los Angeles. “My home is a retreat for me,” he says of the house he shares with his husband, Giorgio Vetica. “I love beautiful things: shine, glamour. That’s what I do.”

The devotion to Hollywood glamour makes his choice in houses something of a surprise: a 1928 English cottage.

PHOTO GALLERY: The Vetica house

“We realized that yes, maybe it didn’t have everything we wanted at the time, but with time, we can make it our dream home,” says Vetica, who bought the house with Giorgio 10 years ago. “That’s what has happened.”

Subtle alterations have opened the interiors of the traditional house and bring in light. A few walls were taken down, and the kitchen was doubled in size after an adjacent laundry room was turned into a breakfast nook. The den and kitchen open to a patio that extends the living space into a lush landscape.

The couple wanted to maintain the integrity of the house, so new windows reflected the cottage’s original style. The kitchen was updated with amenities for cooking and entertaining but not made too modern, Vetica says. For help with finishing touches, he turned to interior designer Michelle Workman, whom he met last year while they were working with Jennifer Lopez.

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Most viewed home galleries of 2011

Top Casasco
L.A. at Home's list of the most viewed home photo galleries of 2011 is an interesting mix: a 495-square-foot house in Echo Park and a 670-square-foot condo in Montecito. The Venice retreat of former Telemundo President Nely Galán, the new Santa Monica digs for TV journalist Lisa Ling and the Carpinteria beach house remodel of TV and film veterans Amy Lippman and Rodman Flender. Designs by icons Frank Lloyd Wright, Ray Kappe, Rudolph Schindler and Charles and Ray Eames.

L.A. Times most view home galleries
We usually profile at least one Southern California home or garden every week, and by year's end the numbers inevitably provide some surprises. Because our profiles draw readers for months, often years, we've organized the list by season, so homes that have been collecting clicks since the beginning of the year don't have an unfair advantage over those featured at the end. All of our most recent home and garden galleries are archived on our home tours page or in our Landmark Houses series.

Without further ado, our year-end list of most viewed home photo galleries ...

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For Pipes Canyon remodelers, a high desert holiday

Paul Goff Tony Angelotti exterior
Paul Goff and Tony Angelotti had never heard of Pipes Canyon, a butte-studded piece of high desert northwest of Joshua Tree National Park. But now, a dozen years after their introduction to the place, the Santa Monica residents have a part-time home and a life at the center of Pipes Canyon's small but vibrant social circle, hosting dinner parties for the artists and other ex-urbanites who have settled here.

cowboy lampThe house that Goff and Angelotti call the Olive Adobe is, in fact, a stucco building painted a rugged desert rose. Once an undistinguished desert shack, it has been refashioned into a pueblo-style residence, complete with a parapet around the roof deck and a Mediterranean garden filled with olive trees. Generous patio spaces easily accommodate two dozen guests for sit-down holiday dinners in front of a roaring outdoor fireplace. On cold desert nights, guests bundle up in Goff's collection of ponchos from South America and enjoy the liquid warmth of fine wines.

MORE PHOTOS: Rustic retreat by Joshua Tree

“I travel all over the world,” said frequent weekend guest Rhonda Rasmussen, a hotel interior designer with the firm WATG in Irvine, “but Paul and Tony's is the one place where I can really relax.”

The quiet, remote location and magnificent mountain sunsets certainly contribute to the Olive Adobe's charm. Yet perhaps the most enchanting aspect of the property is its Cinderella transformation from what had been a one-room, 500-square-foot structure built in 1947. In the 1960s, a two-bedroom addition nearly doubled the interior of the house, but Goff and Angelotti pushed the footprint even farther starting in 2008, turning screened porches into indoor rooms and adding connected outdoor spaces and a small wing with a laundry room and a bathroom.

Now that the finishing touches are done, the result is a stylishly Western home with interiors that incorporate Arts and Crafts furniture, Mexican saltillo tile floors and cowboy paintings.

The process began impulsively for Goff, a film and TV producer, and Angelotti, a stunt coordinator and vintage furnishings and antiques dealer. In early 1999, a local real estate agent brought them to a 7.5-acre site that had a well. The agent casually mentioned that the house had just been reduced to a price that Goff characterized as less than that of most new cars.

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Lisa Ling house: Modern lines, family circles

Lisa Ling Punchouse kitchen
For 15 years, television journalist Lisa Ling was a nomad. She worked out of New York, Chicago, Miami and Washington, D.C., reporting stories from Colombia, North Korea, Uganda and Russia. "I forgot what 'home' meant," Ling says. "For me, it was United Airlines Seat 4B." After Ling married radiation oncologist Paul Song, the couple settled in Santa Monica with plans to start a family and build a house with room to grow, space for entertaining and a distinctly modern design. Marco DiMaccio of Punchouse Ecodesign Group delivered all that and more, putting the finishing touches this fall on a concrete, wood and glass prism that reflects his clients' heritages and showcases their budding art collection.

Punchouse entrance“Lisa and Paul are comfortable with who they are, and I certainly wasn't blind to their heritage,” DiMaccio says. As a result, the house contains features that reflect its owners in fresh and quirky ways. As he puts it: “I like to surprise people and make them smile.”

Take the hard-to-miss lamp out front. Scaled in proportion to the two-story facade and illuminated to glow at night like a giant paper lantern, the light is fashioned from 2,000 translucent plastic Chinese takeout containers. “It took me, my girlfriend, Lisa and Paul four days to glue them together,” DiMaccio says.

PHOTO GALLERY: Lisa Ling-Paul Song house

Another frontyard attention-getter is the 5 1/2-foot-deep sunken conversation area with steps covered in artificial turf. Hidden from passersby behind a wall, it's proved to be a favorite with young and old alike. “The pit is amazing,” Ling says. “Kids stop crying when we put them inside, and on Sundays, Paul and I read the paper there with a cup of coffee.”

Ling, best known for her stint on “The View” and currently host of “Our America With Lisa Ling” on OWN, is Chinese. Song is Korean. DiMaccio kept their ethnicity in mind throughout the design process, and nowhere is it more evident than at the entrance.

The 9-foot-wide foam-filled wood front door is finished by hand like a surfboard in high-gloss red, a color associated with good luck in China. Next to it is a pond that flows indoors and contains a Plexiglas grate cut in the shape of the Chinese characters for “double happiness.”

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Before and after: New look for a 100-year-old Craftsman

Tamara Kaye-Honey's nontraditional update of a Craftsman house in South Pasadena
Ever wonder what happens when someone dares to depart from design tradition and challenge the conventions of the Cult of Craftsman? Do you live to tell? More important, what do the results look like? See (and judge) for yourself: Tamara Kaye-Honey's nontraditional update of a Craftsman house in South Pasadena is the latest installment of Pro Portfolio. The feature, posted every Monday, looks at a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer. 

Project: 1911 bungalow

Tamara Kaye-Honey's nontraditional update of a Craftsman house in South PasadenaInterior designer: Tamara Kaye-Honey, House of Honey, South Pasadena. Architect: Jill Bowers. Contractor: Grant Larsen, (626) 676-3982.

Designer's statement: The design concept was to enhance and expand a 100-year-old bungalow in South Pasadena while updating the space for a young family.

I wanted the home to feel personal and fresh. It was to have a clean, whimsical and modern aesthetic while allowing the architecture to have a strong presence. Blending the old with the new allowed the home to retain its history while the house was made more functional. By moving walls, adding square footage, opening spaces and exaggerating architectural detail, the home flows better for a family on the go. The color palette is crisp and playful, with shades of yellow carried throughout the interior and exterior to unify.

Tamara Kaye-Honey's nontraditional update of a Craftsman house in South Pasadena
To see inside, keep reading ...

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Before and after: Los Feliz garden's new plantings, pool

 Joan Grabel front yard
Joan Grabel's recent overhaul of the landscape for a home in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles is the latest installment of Pro Portfolio. The feature, posted every Monday, looks at a recently built, remodeled or redecorated home with commentary from the designer.

Los Feliz house beforeProject: Front, side and back yards.

Designer: Joan Grabel of Park Slope Design. Landscape contractor: Automatic Sprinkler Controls. General contractor: JG&J Construction (hardscape), (818) 425-3433. Pool contractor: Appealing Pools, (818) 704-7525.

Designer’s description: The 1924 Spanish Colonial Revival home of writer/producer Richard and Susan Gurman was designed by renowned theater architect S. Charles Lee,  known for his blend of Spanish Baroque, Art Deco, Beaux Arts and Streamline Moderne styles. 

Inspired by the Gurmans’ appreciation for art and architecture, I created a design that echoed and complemented the architectural integrity of this home and provided the outdoor living elements that the Gurmans'  desired: swimming  pool, dining and sitting areas, barbecue, water feature and sustainable garden. The "before" photo is above right, and the "after" photo is at the top. For more details and pictures of the project, keep reading ...

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Small Schindler house in Inglewood remodeled for a new era

Architect Steven Ehrlich is sitting in the front garden of a 1940 Rudolph M. Schindler home in Inglewood that he recently restored for daughter Onna Ehrlich-Bell and her family. Forty-foot-tall liquidambars line the street of mostly post-World War II houses. It's a real Ozzie and Harriet neighborhood, traditional to its core except for this low-slung piece of modern design. For two years, this is where Ehrlich spent much of his time — “channeling Schindler,” he says with a chuckle.

Schindler-Ehrlich-livingAs Ehrlich tells the story, it was serendipity that he came upon the home by the renowned midcentury architect whose iconic Kings Road House in West Hollywood is often considered the big bang of California Midcentury Modernism. Ehrlich and his wife, Nancy Griffin, had been invited to dinner by friends Kali Nikitas and Richard Shelton.

"I'd never been to their home before," Ehrlich says, "but as soon as I walked through the door, I asked, 'Is this a Schindler?' "

PHOTO GALLERY: Side-by-side Schindler houses in Inglewood

It was. And so was the house next door, and, incredibly, another down the street. As fate would have it, the Schindler next door was the subject of a probate sale the next day. “He built three houses on the same street in 1940 for a developer on spec, which was very unusual for him,” says Kimberli Meyer, director of the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Kings Road House, where Schindler explored the relationship of space, light and form, as well as communal living.

Ehrlich toured the Inglewood probate house the following day, then put in the winning bid: $265,000.

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A little genius: Reviving an L.A. master's modestly sized house

Schindler Nikitas living
It was October 2007, the height of the real estate frenzy, and Kali Nikitas and Richard Shelton had all but given up on owning their own home. “We were spending all our time looking at houses, then bidding on them and never getting one,” says Shelton, who, along with his wife, is an academic administrator at Otis College of Art and Design in Westchester. “It was driving us crazy.”

Around midnight of the day they called it quits, Nikitas went on Craigslist for one last try. She typed in “Westside” and a price range of $450,000 to $650,000. The first house to appear was a modern home. She clicked on it. That's when the screaming began. “Oh, my God! Oh, my God! It's a Schindler!”

PHOTOS: Side-by-side Schindlers in Inglewood

She called at 8 the next morning, and at 2 p.m. she and Shelton met with owner Grace Berryman. "You're suppose to play it cool. We did not play it cool," Nikitas says, laughing. "I told her, 'We're going to give you everything we have. We want this house.' "

Schindler Nikitas lightAsked by Berryman what they planned to do with the house, the couple answered in unison: Restore it. “That must have been the right answer,” Shelton says.

Two hours later they shook hands on the deal. They were the new owners of an authentic two-bedroom, one-bath, nearly 1,000-square-foot house by one of the most renowned architects of the 20th century, Rudolph M. Schindler. Price: $580,000.

“Never in our wildest dreams,” Nikitas says, “did either one of us ever think we would be living in a home by such an important architect.”

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