Name: Ara Katz and Chris Ovitz
Location: Abbot Kinney Boulevard; Venice, California
Size: 1,700 square feet
Years lived in: 1 1/2 years
Ara and Chris decided to move in together and looked endlessly for a loft, but couldn't find the right space. They kept coming back to a loft building on Abbot Kinney as the model for their dream home, but every unit was already occupied. Ara constantly kept her eye on the building and after a long wait, a unit was finally available. Within a day, Ara and Chris snatched it up.
Ara describes her loft as like a mini compound. It is a very unique space, with a courtyard that separates the main house from the guest house on the lower level, and an outdoor walkway on the upper level that connects the master bedroom and the studio. There is even a large balcony off the master bedroom with a great view of Abbot Kinney Boulevard — perfect for retreating after a night out in Venice!
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Eclectic — I love modern design and a lot of the Danish, Norwegian and American designers from that time, especially from California. A lot of that design works well in work spaces but in the home, it’s about finding a balance of aesthetic and comfort, because the pieces that look beautiful often don’t work for everyday living. I also love incorporating organic materials with sentimental objects and images to create a sense of intimacy and to make the home more personal. Chris grew up in LA around a lot of beautiful art, so we also wanted to make sure the interior design showcased the art and didn’t detract from it.
Inspiration: While the space is designed with clean lines and lots of light, it is also near the beach in Venice and I’m from New York, so it was about bringing all these ideas together in a way that felt beautiful and livable. With lots of white walls and glass, we used moments of black and organic woods (reclaimed Russian oak, walnut) and textiles (organic undyed linen) to create warmth and to incorporate organic shapes, colors and textures into the space.
There’s definitely some inspiration from Leslie Williamson's book, Handcrafted Modern, which really speaks to the concept of balance between Venice's modern roots (Venice is actually where Ray and Charles Eames had their studio), the contemporary lines and architecture, the natural elements inspired by the ocean, and the masculine and feminine of both of us.
Favorite Element: It’s an urban oasis, a private space on our favorite street. We love how Michael Sant, the architect, designed the indoor-outdoor space. Walking through our courtyard to the guest room or outside on the walkway to the studio really creates a sense of fluidity that is hard to feel in closed spaces, especially on a busy street.
Biggest Challenge: There are actually only two corners where white walls meet in the whole space, so it was very difficult to decorate. It's not the kind of place where you can buy a chair you love and then just find a place for it — there is no flexibility to do that because everything is either built-in or has wall meeting glass. It was fun to design into these parameters and work it out by designing original pieces to work within the space.
What Friends Say: “It is so you.”
Biggest Embarrassment: Chris wanted a big sectional couch, and there is probably no kind of couch I like less, so that was a compromise, which actually became a fun design project because we couldn’t find the right one, so I made it.
Proudest DIY: The furniture I designed — the coffee table in the living room, the couch, the benches inside and outside, and the outdoor pieces on the deck. It was really satisfying to create something and then get to live with it. It’s something I hope to do a lot more of.
Also, the previous owner had made a metal TV frame, and then we made another one from painted MDF around the TV in the guest room — people always comment on the frames because TVs can look so bad from the side when they are hung on the wall.
Biggest Indulgence: Time. We were both running startups while we were trying to finish our house, so the design took a lot longer than we both would have liked. Making things takes longer, but ironically, it can be a lot cheaper if you know where to go and how to be resourceful.
Best Advice: I’ve always loved Steve Jobs’ quote about design: “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works." A lot of interior designers design spaces for look and feel and not for how a space lives and breathes every day and over time. A space has to work, and not just for an Apartment Therapy photo shoot!
Dream Sources: Los Angeles. There are so many incredible design resources, artisans, and galleries, so I discovered a whole other side of LA that I didn’t know while I was designing the space. I also had the pleasure of meeting the designer Taylor Jacobson, who is so talented and was really helpful with sourcing and finding the perfect craftsman to help with some of the design projects.
Resources of Note:
PAINT & COLORS
- Benjamin Moore - Super White
- Bench designed by me with custom charcoal/oxidized stain, built by District Millworks
- Robert Mangold series along the hallway
- Art: long piece - Frank Stella, Tim Eitel - blue and black piece, along the hallway - Robert Mangold series
- Coffee table: I designed and made it - inspired by B&B case study table from the 70s
- Objects on credenza - the late Tobias Wong light switch in gold, limited edition - blue acrylic lighter which was my grandfather's, framed Banksy pound notes, Josef Albers' book series interaction of Color
- Rug: from an online organic wool manufacturer
- Arm chair is Jason Koharik
- Credenza is built-in
- The custom TV boxes are made to cover the TVs
- Lighting in corner is a Gretna Grossman Grasshopper lamp
- Geometric light on credenza is Jason Kohark
- A wide reclaimed Russian oak table - it's very heavy and hard to assemble - the top is almost 300 pounds!
- The chairs are a mix of ming-inspired leather and wood black Danish
- Art is Joel Shapiro
- Roy Lichtenstein artwork - one piece made for my boyfriend and the big piece a limited edition piece of the large 40ft piece in the old CAA building called the Stairway
- Lignet Rosset togo sofa + Jason Koharik designed chairs
- Eames management chairs in white
- Gallery hanging a mix of art and personal pieces from me + Chris
Thanks, Ara & Chris!
(Images: Marcia Prentice)
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