Two Architects Create Their Own Home in a 1909 House

House Tour

Name: Bo Sundius and Hisako Ichiki, Architect and Artist, Bunch Design, and Issei Sundius (2)
Location: Los Angeles, California
Size: 1,200 square feet (600 downstairs, 600 upstairs)
Years lived in: 3 years

What do you get when two architects marry and buy a house together? A completely different floor plan, a concrete wall in the powder room, a closet turned into a built-in daybed, green kitchen cabinetry, and the coolest baby room, with contemporary artwork serving as a backdrop to the crib.

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Hisako and Bo have been renovating the house room by room. However, if you have noticed, they aren't showing off their bedroom just yet. Being architects, they were very shy about showing the untouched space and wanted to reveal it in its prime (we will have to check back in when it is finished).

I had to ask the big question — living with another architect, do you agree on design decisions? They are very lucky; for the most part their design aesthetic is very similar. But they did share that marrying a professional in your same field doesn't always work out. By the looks of their home, I would have to say their two minds were better than one!

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Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: A particular style is hard to define. We like clean lines and clear spaces, but want to make places that are warm and comfortable. I like spaces that tell a story.

Inspiration: Hisako is from Tokyo, and I grew up in the country on a farm in Tennessee. We were looking for a house for a long time, and when we found this house it was the best for both of us. Five minutes from downtown Los Angeles and all the great things city life can bring and yet really rural — green hills, black skies at night, birds, and coyotes! And the community in Solano Canyon is really tremendous — like a small town.

The house is simple, small and old (1909) and we were not looking to expand the footprint, so our strategy/inspiration was to open it up inside and out. Sliding doors and new windows engage the California sky and this awesome rurality as much as possible. While the space is really just one big room, we have given each program (kitchen, dining, living room, patio) an identity of its own. The expressed potential of use for each space creates a feeling of diversity and expansive action. This makes the space seem bigger. The footprint is only 600 square feet, but feels larger because each zone has its own mood and comforts.

Favorite Element: I love the bathroom. It's the most recent space we renovated, so that may play a part. You are seeing phase 3 of a 12-step process. Design and DIY is a bit of an addiction, particularly for an architect. But the bathroom has seriously revolutionized our lives. Our son has a tub to play in. The shower and tub side by side makes for a wet room area, which is something that I love from our travels to Japan. We love the Heath tile, which we bought from the seconds selection in the Sausalito Store.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge is our taste versus our budget. It is so easy to fall in love with nicely designed things. It comes with certain costs which we try to offset by making nice things ourselves: re-using nice old doors, making simple cabinetry, taking an extra piece of wood paneling, and designing a dining table. Every time I look at that table I made from one sheet of $100 plywood, I think of the $1500 dining table I had picked out in a catalogue. Then the challenge becomes a joy. Throughout, we try to make choices, we take our time, and try to take advantage of what the process has to give.

What Friends Say: Friends like the light and the openness. They like the green kitchen, the daybed, big sliding door, the experimental art on the wall, and homemade beer.

Biggest Embarrassment: Biggest embarrassment — tough one. Ok: let me paint you a picture of the renovation process. My wife was pregnant through our first renovation. Let me just say that the sink, the range, and the baby were delivered on the same day. But! When my mother-in-law came two days later it was all done.

Proudest DIY: When my mother-in-law came two days after the baby arrived and the renovation was all done.

Biggest Indulgence: Italian designed appliances.

Best Advice: Make a house that you love — it is your home.

Dream Sources: My wife's first go-to is Pasadena City College flea market (although I am sure she will love your local flea market as well). We will both say to travel and find great things, and when you can't travel, make something interesting.

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Resources of Note:

APPLIANCES

HARDWARE

BATHROOM

FURNITURE

  • Dining: Estate sale - Chairs & Homemade table
  • Kitchen: Tourmaline Green Marble, Custom cabinets by Bill
  • Living room: Sofa - Crate&Barrel, Table: Refurbished Kotatsu, White chair: PCC flea market, Daybed and bolsters: Diamond Foam & Fabric

LIGHTING

PAINT

FLOORING

  • Recycled Red and White Oak from a Kentucky horse farm fence

TILES & STONE

WINDOW TREATMENTS

  • Lincoln Casement windows
  • TC Cobb Doors

ARTWORK

  • Hisako Ichiki origami sculpture and framed geometric work
  • Bathroom Prints from Kyoto

OTHER

  • Recycled door at downstairs toilet from The ReUse People (amazing non profit! Use em')

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Thanks, Hisako & Bo!

(Images: Marcia Prentice)

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