Paola and Steve's Light-Filled Modern Home

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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Resources of Note:

ARCHITECT

Paola Tassara Oromí, Studio Brasa

LIVING ROOM

  • 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 Mujeres, MX
  • Carved wood coffee table: purchased in Chile
  • Galvanized steel planters: CB2
  • Children’s table and chairs: made by Steve’s dad after Hans Wegner design
  • 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 canvas
  • 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, Denmark
  • Alvaro Siza plan artwork: School of Architecture, Porto, Portugal

DINING ROOM

  • Custom walnut table: made by Jeff. Glass by 55 Glass, Los Angeles
  • Hans Brattrud dining chairs: vintage
  • Teak tray: CB2

KITCHEN

  • Herman Miller table: vintage
  • Bertoia fiberglass chairs: vintage
  • Curtains: Ikea
  • High chairs: Stokke
  • Orange Espresso maker: La Pavoni purchased in 1986 in Rome, still works!

NURSERY

  • 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

MASTER BEDROOM

  • Rug: purchased in Morocco
  • Rope chairs: Ikea
  • Carved wood table: purchased in Chile
  • Heart sculptures: by Ernesto Cruz, purchased in Tlaquepaque, MX
  • 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
  • Postcard 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

OFFICE

  • 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

PAINT & COLORS
  • Dunn Edwards: swiss coffee

MASTER BATHROOM

  • Plumbing fixtures: Toto USA + Hans Grohe
  • Artwork: EBTG Album

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Thanks, Paola and Steve!

(Images: Bridget Pizzo)

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Bridget is a photographer and writer with an insatiable need to travel and eat questionable foods on her adventures. She loves comedy, beaches, sunshine, flea markets as big as the eye can see, and her charmer of a dog, Boss Hogg.