LA House Tour: A Re-FORMed Space

Here's a special House Tour showcasing the professional collaboration of an interior design firm and an architect, including before & after photos:

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Name: FORM (design firm) and John Hadley Jr. (architect)
Location: 3003 Fall Ave, Silver Lake
Size: approx. 2200 sq ft, 4 bed/3 bath
Years lived in: none yet, the house is for sale!
Decor Style: Re-imagined Hollywood Regency

When we first saw the house, it was in such disrepair that we had very little inspiration at all. As the layers peeled away--the louvered windows, the overgrown jungle around the house, and the sheer mass of garbage-- we saw a house that wanted desperately to come back to life. The house harkened back to an era of silent film stars and studio parties. As Janet Cunningham, the landscape designer, began to sculpt the rolling hill atop which the house sits, we began to envision a proud and elegant Mediterranean cliff house. A style perfectly at home in this area.

We're always looking for more candidates for house tours. If you or someone you know is interested in inviting us for a tour, please email us!

Antonio Moreno, a silent film star and Silver Lake developer in the earlier third of the century, along with architects such as Neutra, Schindler, Lautner, Wright, and Ain, built in the hills west of the reservoir in a style reminiscent of Mediterranean villages. In fact, it is after Moreno's Canfield-Moreno Estate that many other homes in Silver Lake are fashioned.

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Favorite element: We have two favorite elements in the house. The first is the pre-existing but newly plastered and refurbished original kiva-style fireplace in the living room. It's very dramatic and the first thing you see when you walk in the front door, so it really sets the bar for the rest of the house. The second is the downstairs master suite. Before, it was a dank, musty, cluttered, and cramped basement apartment with a frightening railroad style bathroom. Once the walls came down we had some structural elements that we had to work around that gave the room a slightly industrial feel. So we took it as an opportunity to do something very modern and clean, loft-like in feel, but still contiguous to the rest of the home. The curved wall which is actually a part of the home's chimney brings the shape of the fireplace from upstairs to downstairs, which helps to unify the spaces. Adding a few windows and a glass paned door brings the sweeping views and gorgeous landscaping inside, which makes the room feel larger, airier, and a bit decadent. In keeping with the loft like vibe of the space we used an insulated polished polymer floor, which looks like polished concrete but is not nearly as cold, in lieu of the narrow-plank ebony stained wood that runs throughout the rest of the house. John Hadley Jr., the owner/architect had the great idea to enclose a nearly unusable section of the space to create a huge walk-in closet complete with built-ins in order to eliminate the need for a bulky piece of furniture in the room. This keeps the room feeling clean and crisp, like a fabulous boutique hotel. The bathroom was designed to feel like a spa; the porcelain sink floats away from the wall, its plumbing hidden behind a custom shallow vanity. The open shower is so luxuriously tiled in 2" hand cut slate from floor to ceiling that you forget the room doesn't have a bath, and its lack of a basin gives the feeling of freedom and depth in an otherwise small space.

Biggest Challenge: Our biggest challenge was making the Ikea cabinets work and not look like Ikea cabinets. While their construction is pretty fabulous for the price (solid beech doors), they feel like a kitchen ordered out of a catalog. The greatest offenders were the small squares that were etched into the glass of the upper cabinets. Our genius ideas was to replace the glass with frosted glass, only that proved impossible given the construction of the door. So our final solution came from our fabulous glass guy who took the doors and sandblasted them. After that we installed cabinet hardware that echoed the elegant shape of the Viking Designer series appliance handles and we had our custom kitchen.

What Friends say: "WOW!" A number of neighbors have come through the house with their jaws on the ground. They can't believe that we turned this tear down into a gracious estate in less than four months.

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Biggest Embarrassment: Our biggest embarrassment is the limestone in the upstairs bathroom--it was already purchased when we came on the scene, so . . . we cut it in to oversized "subway" tile and layed it in an offset brick pattern. For the floor, we cut the tiles in to smaller 6"x6" squares to make the space feel larger.

Proudest DIY: refinishing the cowhide chairs in the living room--they were nasty vinyl, rust covered junk when we found them, and now . . . well, just look! (We found out that after we had purchased them a buyer from Modernica on Beverly tried to snag them.)

Biggest Indulgence: the ibex head table in the living room, but so worth it.

Best Advice: REUSE, REUSE, REUSE. There is no shortage of dilapidated furniture in thrift stores or even on the street. Find an upholsterer whose work you think is great and reasonable, get some fabric that you love and . . . you have a brand new stunning sofa for less than half a true ticket price. More than 80% of the furniture in this house is salvaged. The other advice we can give--if you have a chance to work with architect John Hadley Jr., take it. The original vision for this home came from him. It has been a pleasure reinventing this home with him.

Resources: Michael Levine for all your fabric needs. ebay for everything. Craigslist for furniture, art and estate sale listings. Bourget Bros. for stone and patio pavers. Serv-Well appliances in Glendale, contractor pricing to the public (yes you can afford a Viking refrigerator). Sunlandhomedecor.com for all things hide related and good ol' IKEA (in particular, lighting and closets).

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