Phase 1 is finished and featured on the blog Apartment Therapy.
The Sink, Gas Range and Baby all arrived on the same day!
How bout that timing!

I love the geometry play with the walnut clad stairs beyond.

We ended up with an extra sheet of walnut plywood, so i quickly designed and built a dining table. I would be happy to build you one if you want one!

We fell in love with this green granite which was on clearance at Walker Zanger. Naturally a green counter requires a green cabinet. The cabinet was inspired by table designs.

While the space is really just one big room, we have given each program (kitchen, dining, living room, patio) an identity of its own. The expressed potential of use for each space creates a feeling of diversity and expansive action. This makes the space seem bigger. This floor is only 600 square feet, but feels larger because each zone has its own mood and comforts.

The large window completely opens up the living room. The sky and leaves remind us how nice Los Angeles can be.

What used to be a closet in the old layout has been turned into a nook and daybed which now frames the living room.

We wanted a bathroom, but did not want it to block precious light from the outside, so we wrapped it in clerestory glass. We also fattened the walls to make room for a pantry and dish storage. We prefer pantry's to upper cabinets in the kitchen which we feel make a kitchen look small.

We uncovered this massive retaining wall in the demolition process. Its so awesome that we kept it. The sliding door is salvaged and refit with a one way mirror.

The House Backstory

Los Angeles is my home, but it is not where i come from. Drawn many years ago to the lights and culture and happenings of the city, i now find myself intertwined in it. Mostly I am pleased with the glow and buzz of activity. But that is not where i come from. In my youth it was rolling hills; it was green. I could wander. But there is a funny thing about Los Angeles too. An unexpectant that only those who live here long enough and look hard enough will uncover. Just as a fast moving fire will leap and leave green patchy oasis behind, so too can one find these odd green oasis within the city. On May 5th of 2009 we moved into one.

1280 SF total over two stories. So it has a tiny 600 SF footprint. Built in 1909 of redwood and a 3 foot thick retaining wall. Its old, but not going anywhere. The lot is a triangular 12,000sf. Which for L.A. is large, roughly the size of two lots. Its zoned R2 which keeps us dreaming of what else we can do with it. We are near Dodger Stadium and Elysian Park which wraps the ballpark like a catcher mitt.

Before World War II, the area was Hispanic enclave. Houses lined dirt paths that meandered through the park and into downtown. In the 40's the city starting buying up land with the promise of affordable housing. But when the Dodger's agreed to move from Brooklyn, the city gave the land to build a stadium betraying the local population. It was a massive earthworks project with entire hills leveled and valleys filled to level ground for a playing field. The effect on the neighborhood and the house was transformative. Originally the house fronted Brooks Avenue, but with the stadium came the removal of the street. Brooks Avenue became a "paper street". The front door of the house moved to the basement, which fronts an alley and the former street was left to seed. This happened a long time ago. Neighbors have animosity for the Dodgers, me i am fan, my Dad has a signed Jackie Robinson baseball and he truly dodged trolleys in Brooklyn. Baseball aside its a funny lot, a funny house, and an architect's playground.


The existing first floor plan is a mess with a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom as well as this useless and oddly enormous foyer. The greatest missed opportunity is that there is no connection visually or physically to the exterior patio or to the field to the north.

The primary design moves are 1) to remove all interior walls and create a free plan, 2) make the entire north wall glass to blur the boundary of inside and out and appropriate the patio as part of the living room, 3) give the stairs a program (library) and open it up to bathe in two story light, 4) move the entrance to the side of the house and appropriate the foyer as office.

Inserting the center beam. March 22, 2010

View from the kitchen. With the main strutural elements in place and the shoring removed, the space has opened up. March 24, 2010

The north exterior wall is now largely removed and the connection to the patio is made. Light floods the space and it no longer feels like a basement. March 31,2010

Water closet to the right keeps the massive existing retaining wall exposed. March 31,2010

View into the future tall library & stair. These walls will be clad in Walnut or Oak plywood. April 2,2010

I thought i would post a few photos of everyday living while the house is under construction. You can see here our current kitchen. Mostly its BBQ on the grill and occasionally our camping stove from REI. I guess Southern California weather allows such easy living to be possible.

For our housewarming party we asked that everyone bring clippings of succulents from their yard (or someone else's yard). They have been growing well and the success has spurned the start of an obsession.

I decided to hand seed the yard as part experiment and because of a unexplainable rejection of sod. I ordered a seed mix from Canada (why not?)that will remain green year round, but is also drought tolerant. We will see how this works out.

Throughout all of this construction we have tried to continue to develop the landscape. We have installed four 30 sf gopher proof garden beds. Our current crop includes carrots, beets, onions, and bok choy.


All of the windows have now been cut and put in place. Rough plumbing and electrical is completed. Drywall soon. April 22, 2010