Brooke & Sam's Skyscraper Loft

House Tour

Name: Brooke Tollefson & Sam Walbuck
Location: The Continental Building — Downtown Los Angeles
Size: 820 square feet
Years lived in:

Did you know that Los Angeles used to have its own Wall Street? The Continental Building was built in 1903 and was our first skyscraper. You may remember seeing it in the movie 500 Days of Summer, where Joseph Gordon-Leavitt's aspiring architecture student character loves admiring the iconic building from Angel's Knoll park. Brooke and Sam's living room in the Continental overlooks the park and the landmark Angels Flight — the trolley that connects Hill Street and Olive Street.

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As you may have noticed, both Brooke and Sam are total hams. Sometimes when we photograph House Tours, we have to do some convincing to get the homeowners in a few pictures — not a problem here! Their carefree attitude that comes across in the photos has an influence on their home as well. It's a relaxing place where the focus is on enjoying their space instead of worrying about everything being in its place.

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: According to Brooke: "There are no rules or specific style we were trying to adhere to. We like to be comfortable and our space is a blend of urban/industrial, global, and traditional." But, if you ask Sam, it is simply "manly and relaxing."

Inspiration: Travel, red wine, and being able to put our feet up and relax when we get home. We also were very inspired by the Continental building itself. We fell in love with the architectural details and raw, industrial finishes of this gem of a historic building.

Favorite Element: Architecturally, the 15 foot raw concrete ceilings and massive windows to capture the skyline view of downtown Los Angeles. Of our personal things, our pair of Drake Barrel Back chairs from Restoration Hardware, which are where we (and all of our guests) seem to flock to first.

Biggest Challenge: We moved from a much larger home and decided to embark on an urban adventure together. True to the times, we did not have the budget to go on a shopping spree when we signed the lease, so we had to get creative in using what we had. Taking into consideration that both of us hail from small towns in the Northwest, the challenge we faced was making what we brought with us from our past lives work in a completely different world.

This is the smallest place either of us have ever lived in and creating defined areas throughout the space proved to be a challenge. The bathroom was very large and open for a small loft, but lacked cabinetry and storage space, so we put our baker's rack that we had planned to go in the kitchen area in there. It is very functional storage space for all of our daily items and gave the room some warmth.

In the kitchen, the building management was so kind to provide us the stainless steel chef's table. This is really the center of our loft where everyone gathers when friends come over, where we can store/display our copper pots and more colorful cookware, mixing bowls, etc. on the lower shelf. We love it!

In the year and a half that we have lived here, the arrangement has proven very functional, comfortable, and urban in a way that is relatable to us. While we were not financially able to go as modern as we would have preferred, we have really enjoyed how we were able to make our stuff work with the loft experience.

What Friends Say: Wow, you guys are grown ups! Friends are very gracious in saying they love how cozy and warm our place is (after we give them enough wine).

Biggest Embarrassment: The white, contemporary desk chair. In our last home, the office was a separate enclosed space, but now that we have no walls, it looks horribly off next to all of our other furniture. That said, it is just too comfortable to justify listing it on Craigslist…yet.

Proudest DIY: Before we moved in, Brooke's Dad came down and crawled around on the ceiling above the only enclosed room in our loft (the bathroom). A veteran contractor, he drew us a map of plywood decking puzzle pieces to fit together around all of the existing pipes to make us a usable space that we could walk on to store things in, which Sam quickly claimed as his man cave. Lifting and placing those ¾" sheets of plywood into place was no easy feat, but in spite of the colorful vocabulary inspired by the experience (and in the absence of a garage), this was a great feature to add. Sam loves his man cave, where he can escape to his Bob Marley art, his favorite chair, and a view of the city below.

On a smaller scale, we installed a bathroom towel bar over our kitchen sink to hang our cooking utensils, fresh herbs, and garlic. We love to cook at home and with limited drawer space this works well for us. Installing a closet organizer system was another project for us and something we could never live without!

Biggest Indulgence: We were in no place to be indulgent here! We bought four counter stools and a closet organizer system from Overstock.com. Those were the only new purchases we made.

Best Advice: Downsizing does not have to be a bad thing. We were nervous to leave a big house for an 820 square foot loft/apartment and as an interior designer I was terrified to integrate our primarily traditional furniture into an urban setting. Had we had the budget to shop for our new place, we would have loved to have done more urban/eclectic. However, the building has such great character and could pretty much make anyone's stuff look great!

We especially love the community and lifestyle living in the Old Bank District of downtown Los Angeles. These days, mowing the lawn, weeding the flower beds, and living in our previous, anti-social suburban neighborhood are all distant memories. Downtown is making a fierce comeback and there is no better or more authentic place to experience it than The Old Bank District.

Dream Source: If you are going for this look, Restoration Hardware, Cost Plus World Market, and Pottery Barn are great sources for the basics. Fill in the blanks with things you have collected from your travels: your favorite books, wine and coffee stains, and things that make you look forward to coming home and relaxing at the end of the day.

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Resources of Note:

FURNITURE

ACCESSORIES

FLOORING

  • Existing to building — stained, polished concrete and 100 year old mosaic tile from the old bank hallways

RUGS & CARPET

BEDDING

OTHER
For information on living in the original loft community of Los Angeles, please contact our good friends at the Old Bank District Lofts

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Thanks Brooke & Sam!

Images: Evan Koester

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Marcia is an interior, portrait, and travel photographer and has photographed over 50 homes of creatives. Her photographic style is capturing her subject in the most natural state and creating an emotional response.

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