A Bold, Eclectic Basement Apartment in a Converted Church

updated Apr 30, 2019

A Bold, Eclectic Basement Apartment in a Converted Church

updated Apr 30, 2019
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Square feet
Sq ft

Name: Lourdes Hernandez and Zach Leigh
Location: Highland Park, Los Angeles
Size: 1900 square feet
Years lived in: 18 months, owned

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Creative duo Zach and Lourdes started their relationship as musicians — they met one night at The Largo while playing a show. But recently their creative energies have gone in another direction: Refurbishing an old church in Los Angeles’ Highland Park. The couple first thought they would use this place as a music venue, but after they got married here themselves, the potential for this space as a wedding venue was clear. The Ruby Street is now booked with weddings almost every weekend of the year. The couple live in a home they’ve created in the basement and it’s the perfect collaboration of their tastes and styles.

Editor’s note: We’re rerunning this tour from last year because it’s such a bold transformation of an unusual space!

When they bought the place, the basement was dark with boarded up windows. They were more than surprised when they started stripping away siding to find gorgeous old windows. As Lourdes says, “We bought this book about Garvanza [the neighborhood] and saw an old photo of the church that showed some windows in the front lower part of the building. We then opened the walls to see if we were missing any other openings and voila! We found three more windows on the lateral side of the building! We then knew this was a livable space and decided to move in!”

Zach renovates buildings for a living at The Good Form as a designer/builder. And Lourdes keeps the place lively with her singing; go check out her new album Karaoke through her site Russian Ready.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Very eclectic, a 2017 mix of the ’50s and the ’80s

Inspiration: Colorful lofty houses

Favorite Element: The nook that is our bedroom

Biggest Challenge: Leaving the space completely open yet creating cozy, welcoming areas

What Friends Say: It’s a big playground for adults

Biggest Embarrassment: Too many photos of us on the walls :/

Proudest DIY: Yarn wall by the red stairway

Biggest Indulgence: Custom-made bed

Best Advice: Hang things on the walls that have to do with your life


Manufacturer — Dunn-Edwards
Walls — Droplets
Floor — Dangerous Robot
Stairway — Red Contrast
Hand painted signs on doors — friend AJ Mercer

Green cabinet — Urban Outfitters
Palm Tree Photograph — URBAN OUTFITTERS
Balloon lights — AMAZON
Flushed mount ceiling light — ARTERIORS
Tree floor vintage lamp — Trunk is a family heirloom and shade is DIY. I love yarn and I always look to find ways of bringing it into decorative accents. I found this old naked shade and decided to wrap it with different colors of silk yarn, a specific type that is thinner and shinier.

Yarn Wall — There used to be a real wall in that same spot before but it isolated the entrance so we decided to create a see through wall that could both separate and connect both the stairway and office area. Using two thin slabs of wood, eye hooks and a ball of old yarn. We improvised!

Orange sofa — IKEA
Colorful rugs — CB2
Ceiling pendants — Arteriors (out of stock!)
Plastic melted Ice Cream — Family Heirloom from Zach’s grandma 🙂 favorite thing in her house for ages
Artwork by friends Eugenia Loli, David Gomez,Vanessa Prager and several vintage finds
Wooden desk — Custom made/DIY project. Since our apartment is basically a cemented basement we try to bring in as many warm elements as possible (yarn, rugs of all kinds and a lot of fabrics and wood). We wanted to have a big desk area under the brighter windows and for it to be simple and feel somewhere between an architect’s desk and a temporary office. So we used a big slab of finished plywood and built three crossshaped legs in which it stands. As big as we wanted to make it, it always ends up filled with stuff!

Stripe Pillows — DIY project. Bought this striped fabric at fabric.com, where I spend a lot of time 🙂 and sewed these pillow covers on my machine. Probably easiest project ever!

Sofa — Vintage find
Sheep Skin Pillows — West Elm
Rug — One Kings Lane
Coffee table — Vintage Find
DIY Customized Desk — West Elm
Round mirror — vintage find
Grey vintage chair — Lawson&Fenning
Wall lamp arrow shape — King Richard’s Antique Vintage Center

Clock — Eugenia Loli
Rug — IKEA
Kitchen island+cabinets — IKEA
Wooden shelving — IKEA
Black steel shelves — DIY+URBAN OUTFITTERS I spray painted the wall where this shelf is standing to create some contrast with the rest of the elements in the wall and to add more surface to the piece since it’s not that big. Finishes the project in less than 5 minutes!

Bed —We designed and custom made this bed!
Rug — West Elm
Lighting — CB2
Dark pillows — I made these pillows myself, took my ever first sewing class for this project! Bought the dark linen fabric and filling in Michael Levine’s in Downtown LA and literally learnt to saw by making these two giant pillows. This led me to made a lot more pillows around the house!

Bench — IKEA
Pendleton towels — Broome Street General Store
Floor Tile — Walker Zanger (Kesh collection, they don’t make them anymore, Spanish-inspired tile)
Wall Tile — Walker Zanger
Lighting — ARTERIORS

Rug — IKEA
Cork Stools — IKEA’s collab with Ilse Crawford
Pink corner piece — IKEA’s limited edition 2014
Head lamp — DYI by Zach’s mom! <3
Plant+Pot — HOME DEPOT
Tinsel round stage — DIY project we used for my band’s latest music video . Inspired in artist Ragnar Kjartansson’s work we cut a circle in a soft sort of wood, sprayed it gold, built a simple structure it could stand on and wrapped gold tinsel we got from around it! All tools and materials we used came from Home Depot and Amazon. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vzV0xi6tztk)

Rug — Eugenia Loli

Thanks, Lourdes and Zach!

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