Name: Paola, Steve, and their twin baby sons
Location: Venice Beach, California
Size: 2500 square feet
Years Lived In: 1.5
When Paola and Steve purchased their Venice Beach home, it
was essentially a blank canvas. More specifically, a boxy blank canvas with impressively
high ceilings, a wide open floorplan, copious natural light, wood floors, and
exposed beams. It had all the makings of
an enviable modernist dream home. However, there was no separation of rooms, as
the space’s previous occupant was an advertising agency. Enter Paola and Steve,
both trained architects, who gracefully tackled the challenge of converting the
anonymous space into a home that embodies their family and personal style.
Family heirlooms, found objects, travel memorabilia, and
handcrafted furniture dot the home and personalize it to the couple and their
children. Paola and Steve have crafted a homey feel that can oftentimes be
difficult to achieve in modern, open spaces. From the wall décor to the
espresso machine, everything has been thoughtfully selected and has a story
behind it relating back to travel and family. For example, a cork world map
hangs in the nursery, encouraging the boys towards future exploration, and also reminding them of their multi-cultural heritage.
Paola is a licensed architect and runs her own firm, Studio Brasa, from their home office. She is currently working on hospitality and residential projects in California and
in Latin America. On the
homefront, she is working on plans for extending the second floor catwalk and
connecting it to another bedroom that will be built over the office.
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: We are modernists at heart, but try not to be
precious about it. We met working for Frank Gehry in LA and can’t deny his
influence on us, especially his early residential work that expresses typical
construction materials and systems as opposed to concealing them.
Inspiration: We are inspired by a lot of Japanese, Brazilian,
and Scandinavian design, as well as the California Modernists. Also sprinkled in for good measure: Russian
Constructivism, Futurism, Bauhaus, and De Stijl.
Favorite Element: The second floor renovation. We were
challenged with creating two bedrooms within an open floor plan without losing
the spaciousness that we fell in love with.
Biggest Challenge: We started construction a week before our
twins were born. Juggling shuttling back and forth to the hospital with managing
contractors and inspections, all within the first few days of our babies’ lives, was difficult to say the least! We still can’t believe we pulled that off.
What Friends Say: “Wow, you have tall ceilings!” (They are
24 feet tall). Some say it feels modern, artistic and comfortable.
Biggest Embarrassment: Our basement. We love having the room, but have yet to
transform it from storage room to game room, play room, media room, studio,
darkroom, gym, dojo, etc. Clearly, we
have a few decisions to make and a lot of work to do.
Proudest DIY: The ongoing design, management and execution
of the renovation, which marks our first collaboration together as designers.
Also, getting the project entitled with the city and coastal commission as well
as drawing everything in our spare time!
Biggest Indulgence: Our new interior doors and windows,
which are Douglas fir with large glass panels. It was important for these to transmit
light from space to space while also maintaining a sense of openness. This was
especially important for the boys’ room, as it has only one exterior window but
turns out to be the brightest room in the house.
Best Advice: Be an art thief! Most of the images on our
walls are carefully removed street advertisements from our travels. This is a
tradition started by Paola’s mother on the streets of Paris — some of her finds
are now on our walls.
Dream Sources: My father-in-law, Jeff! He
has taken up woodworking in his retirement, and his skills are truly incredible! We were able to design our
dining room table, and Jeff built it from beautiful black walnut wood that he sourced
locally. He has also made us a replica of a Sam Maloof rocking chair as well as
most of our boys’ furniture and countless wooden toys.
Resources of Note:
Oromí, Studio Brasa
- Couches: Room Service, LA
- Wool rug: Room Service, LA
- Shelving units: custom
- Sound panels: custom
- Florence Knoll coffee table: vintage
- Black pottery: Oaxacan “barro negro” purchased in Isla
- Carved wood coffee table: purchased in Chile
- Galvanized steel planters: CB2
- Children’s table and chairs: made by Steve’s dad after Hans
- Play mat: Wonder Mats
- Green rug: purchased in Jordan
- “Hairy Ottomans”: purchased in Chile
- Lamp and shade: vintage
- Graphic wall art: fabric purchased in Guatemala stretched on
- Jose Tomas artwork: street ad from Guadalajara 2007 torn off
a wall and mounted by Paola
- ‘Le Figaro’ and ‘Naifs et Primitifs’ artwork: street ads
from Paris 1987 torn off a wall and mounted by Paola’s mother
- Dewasne graphic artwork: poster from Louisiana Museum,
- Alvaro Siza plan artwork: School of Architecture, Porto,
- Custom walnut table: made by Jeff. Glass by 55 Glass, Los
- Hans Brattrud dining chairs: vintage
- Teak tray: CB2
- Herman Miller table: vintage
- Bertoia fiberglass chairs: vintage
- Curtains: Ikea
- High chairs: Stokke
- Orange Espresso maker: La Pavoni purchased in 1986 in Rome,
- Doors and windows: Expert Windows and Doors
- Custom cabinetry and closet: Jorge German
- Pendant lights: Ikea
- Play mat: Skip Hop
- Window shades: Aero Shade Co.
- Three bread boards on the wall: Huset
- Dansk trivet: heirloom
- Cork world map: Luckies of London
- Dali artwork: street ads from Paris 1987 torn off a wall and
mounted by Paola’s mother
- Rug: purchased in Morocco
- Rope chairs: Ikea
- Carved wood table: purchased in Chile
- Heart sculptures: by Ernesto Cruz, purchased in Tlaquepaque,
- Woman artwork: shopping bag from Buenos Aires
- Nightstands: Ikea
- Bed: West Elm
- Alarm Clock: Hans Jensen
- Lamps: Ikea
- City Artwork: by Kozyndan 2003
- ‘Sérgio Rodrigues in a chair’ postcard: from Espasso
- Aerial photographs: Louisiana Dept. of Transportation
- Rocking Chair: by Steve’s dad after Sam Maloof design
- Candle sconces: vintage from Liz’s Antique Hardware
wall art: Centro Cultural de España, Mexico D.F.
- Art posters: street ads from Helsinki, torn off a wall and
mounted by Paola
- Silk painting: from a street vendor in NYC
PAINT & COLORS
- Shelving unit: Ikea
- Desk: plywood and Wertz Bros. filing cabinets
- Resin desk: West Elm
- Lamp: Ikea
- Lamp: Artemide
- Linen pin up panels: custom
- Shelving: metro
- Table: DWR
- Collage barrel: heirloom
- Dunn Edwards: swiss coffee
- Plumbing fixtures: Toto USA + Hans Grohe
- Artwork: EBTG Album
Thanks, Paola and Steve!
(Images: Bridget Pizzo)
• HOUSE TOUR ARCHIVE: Check out past house tours here.
• Interested in sharing your home with Apartment Therapy? Contact the editors through our House Tour Submission Form.
• Are you a designer/architect/decorator interested in sharing a residential project with Apartment Therapy readers? Contact the editors through our Professional Submission Form.