Nick’s All-in-One Home & Studio

published Feb 16, 2016
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(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

Name: Nick McPhail
Location: Silver Lake — Los Angeles, California
Size: 650 square feet
Years lived in: 3 years; Rented

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With the price of rent quickly increasing every year in Los Angeles, artist Nick McPhail was lucky to grab this perfect little home all for himself. Complete with a backyard that houses an organic garden and a ceramics studio, this home embodies the ideal of a live/work space.

(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

When my interior designer friend Merisa Libbey suggested that I take a look at her friend Nick’s place, I knew it would make for a great House Tour. His home is a modest single home with a great backyard. He converted half his living room into a painting studio, and every few months he installs a gallery collection and hosts art shows with other artists and collaborators. He truly takes advantage of the space for entertaining and to show off his illustrations, paintings and ceramics. “I’m a painter, ceramist and I work in architecture, so my place needs to be functional for a few different purposes. My house is my workspace right now, so that’s my main design priority.”

Nick says the most significant element of his home is his backyard, which was completely overgrown and in really bad shape when he first moved in. “So it took a lot of work to get it into order,” he says. “I use it as overflow for ceramics and paintings, as my wood shop, and also the garden has been great. I also have parties pretty regularly, so it’s really nice to entertain outside.”

Having outdoor space is always a bonus in sunny Los Angeles, and Nick’s yard contributed greatly to how he designed his home. “Because of the weather in LA, an outside space can become like another room in your house,” he says. He treats his backyard like a second living room and also uses it as a woodshed, a place to let paintings dry and a space to work on his ceramics. “The fact that you can be outside year-round is something that drew me to LA initially, so it’s always been a priority for me to have an indoor/outdoor dialogue in my living space.”

(Image credit: Nick McPhail )

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Artist Studio

Inspiration: I work part-time in landscape architecture and architecture, so I draw a lot of inspiration from working with designers. My friend Merisa Libbey, a really talented interior designer, also helped me pick out a few final touches for the house.

Favorite Element: My flat file

Biggest Challenge: Finding a happy medium between an art studio and living space.

What Friends Say: “Will you make me some ceramics?” “I love your backyard” “I’m on your street, can I stop over?”

Biggest Embarrassment: I have a European-style clothes washing machine that I hook up to my kitchen sink, and I hang my clothes to dry out back. I like it, but it’s pretty awkward in the kitchen, and a little unconventional here in the US. I get a lot of comments from people who stop over on laundry day.

Proudest DIY: My kiln. I found it for free on Craigslist, except it wasn’t working at the time. I picked it up because it was in good shape besides the electrical issues. I hooked it up to my main power line in my house, and managed to test all of the different elements and locate the ones that were shorting out. It took me a couple weeks, but once I replaced a few wires and elements, it fired great… and has worked ever since!

Biggest Indulgence: My record player, speakers and record collection. I love having good sound quality while I’m painting, so it’s worth it.

Best Advice: Work with what you have. Don’t hang on to stuff you don’t need.

Dream Sources: Craigslist, the street, travel finds, I make a lot of my own stuff.


(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


  • All walls: generic white paint to showcase artwork
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


  • Painting above record player: John Zane Zappas
  • Poems on front door: Dan Lafferty
  • All other paintings: Nick McPhail
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


  • Acrylic piece on shelf: Cedric Tai
  • Hand-painted shower curtain: Nick McPhail
(Image credit: Bethany Nauert)


  • Kiln: Craigslist
  • Hanging planters: Hedge Outdoor, KeraMika, Half Ceramics
  • All other ceramics: Half Ceramics
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Meet artist Nick McPhail! Welcome to his one-bedroom house in Silver Lake, where he lives, works, and creates his artwork. (Image credit: Bethany Nauert)

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Thanks, Nick!