Alex and Max’s Earthy and Eclectic Venice Bungalow

published Nov 7, 2015
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(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

Names: Alexandra Piotrowski and Max Ostrove
Location: Venice, California
Size: 576 square feet
Years lived in: 1.5 years; Rented

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From the moment you enter Alex and Max’s bright, un-fussy home, it’s evident that every item has a story. The beautiful wood shelving and furniture becomes all the more warm to the touch when you learn that much of it was handcrafted by the inhabitants. Max (a television producer/director by day, maker by night) and Alex (a business consultant and founder of boutique creative marketing agency, Story) have injected their personalities into their rental home with pieces made from reclaimed wood, dreamy dip-dyed linen bedding, throw pillows sewn from textiles found on their travels, and industrial light fixtures built from scraps. The space reflects their partnership and their love: for each other, for books, for travel, and for the world around them. It’s a space that’s simultaneously relaxing, romantic, and inspiring.

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Floor plan hand-drawn by Max (Image credit: Max Ostrove)
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)

Enviably located one block from Abbott Kinney Boulevard and five blocks from the beach, this Venice bungalow presents one great challenge: the square footage. While a detached garage offers some storage, it is mostly packed with slabs of wood and other furniture-building supplies. In the 576 square feet of the bungalow itself, Alex and Max have made creative use of the space above their heads, building and installing high shelving in the dining room for their collection of books and tucking hats away above the molding in the hallway.

These two are masters of all types of markets, and perusing their source list below may leave you feeling torn about whether you should hop a plane to some international destination, jump in your car and high-tail it to Santa Fe, or just quit your day job and open a wood shop. In addition to flea market scores and family hand-me-downs, Alex and Max have decorated the space with personal art and photographs, including irresistibly charming strips of shots from what seems like just about every photo booth in Los Angeles.

As if you weren’t already wondering how you can become friends with this pair, their backyard houses a smoker and their large and sturdy dining room table is literally made for hosting and feasting. If you’re lucky, perhaps they’ll even let you take a stab at their charming “draw the prompt” chalkboard in the kitchen.

(Image credit: Max Ostrove)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Our Style: Natural Eclectic. Everything has a story. Non-fussy, nothing fragile or that won’t age well. The joke is that everything has to be ‘Max-Proof.’ We don’t believe in keeping anything that we (okay, Max) might accidentally destroy.

Inspiration: Lots of travel, international markets, being in nature, natural and raw materials.

Favorite Element: Interesting combinations of textures, anything we’ve made.

Biggest Challenge: Two people living in 576 square feet.

What Friends Say: “Oh wow. This place is great. Can you design my place? Can Max make me a table? What’s for dinner?”

The best one I’ve heard: “This is the type of place I would live in, if I wasn’t broke and alone.”

Biggest Embarrassment: The backyard. We haven’t done a lot with it and because we have such a small space, it ends up being bike and overflow storage.

Proudest DIY: The whole place! Max built the hard goods and Alex handled the softer stuff. The combination of handmade furniture and accessories and art gives the place its heart.

Biggest Indulgence: Nothing is so precious that we’d consider it an indulgence. Our biggest splurges were the vintage Polish movie posters. We happened upon a collector’s gallery of them in San Miguel de Allende, and Alex’s great uncle was actually an artist who used to design these back in Poland. We didn’t find any of his, but the two we fell in love with now adorn the living room and bedroom.

Best Advice:
Alex: Make sure you fill your home with items that are significant to you. Don’t be in a rush and let pieces find you.

Max: Use materials that will age well, because us dudes tend to be tough on stuff.

Dream Sources: International markets all the way!


(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Walls: an unknown white throughout—it’s a rental.
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Old baseball mitt of a leather couch: Santa Monica Airport Antique Market
  • Leather arm chair: vintage
  • Wicker ottoman: Santa Monica Airport Antique Market
  • Walnut and kilim stool: made by Max
  • Coffee table: vintage
  • Wall tapestry: market in Yongon, Myanmar
  • 1960s Polish movie poster: purchased from a collector in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Navajo rug: purchased by Max’s parents in Santa Fe in the ’80s
  • Couch pillow: made by Alex from a rug purchased at the Sunday market in Pisac, Peru
  • Chair pillow: made by Alex from canvas from a military surplus warehouse
  • Alligator head: souvenir from Max’s childhood trip to the Everglades
  • Wooden ladder: market in Santa Fe, NM
  • Brass lamp: Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • Couch drape: vintage rug from Pisac, Peru
  • Coffee table books: purchased together or gifted from Max’s mom, who used to work at National Geographic
  • “Fuck I Love You” canvas: handmade by Alex & Max
  • Metal magazine rack: vintage, from Melrose Trading Post
  • Woven basket: Homemint
  • Hanging brass orb: a trophy topper found at a flea market, converted into an ornament
  • Curtains: West Elm (we think?)
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Wood and blackened steel table: made by Max, with Cedar of Lebanon slab from House of Hardwood
  • White birch and copper benches: made by Max
  • Built-in bookshelves: made by Max, with lumber from Treeline Woodworks
  • Built-in bar: made by Max, from reclaimed Douglas fir
  • Cow skull: Santa Fe, NM
  • Map wallpaper: Max and Alex convinced Santa Monica Flight School to donate old flight maps.
  • Burmese puppet head: market in Mandalay, Myanmar
  • Cow skin rug: flea market
  • Art: Amazon, collected from around the world
  • Books: Amazon, collected from around the world
  • Edison bulb and lead pipe chandelier: Made by Max
  • Vase of arrows: collected from various thrift stores
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Juicer: Amazon
  • Round cutting board: cooking market in Yangon, Burma
  • Chalkboard: made by Alex
  • Refrigerator magnet collection: collected around the world
  • Good knives: Kyoto, Japan
  • Mini woven wall hanging: made by Alex’s friend for her collection, Hayworth and Heart
  • Shelves: came with the place
  • Spice jars: Ikea
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Steel hairpin bed frame: made by Max
  • Navajo rug: purchased by Max’s parents in Santa Fe in the ’80s
  • Steel and wood bench: the first piece of furniture that Max ever built
  • Live-edge eucalyptus shelving: made by Max
  • Furry wall hanging: Santa Monica Airport Antique Market
  • Stump bedside table: found in Mariposa, CA
  • Vintage Polish movie poster: purchased from a collector in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Trinkets: collected around the world
  • Linen duvet cover and pillow shams: indigo dip-dyed by Alex
  • Pom-pom strand in doorway: Pisac Market, Peru
  • Naked fat lady painting: artist in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
  • Other art: collected around the world
  • Pendant lamp: from Alex’s friend’s online shop, Frances Loom
  • Lamp on stump nightstand: homemade by Alex & Max
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Vanity mirror: Ikea
  • Live-edge eucalyptus shelving: made by Max
  • Antique chicken opium weight: store in Yangon, Myanmar
  • Mini terracotta pots: Bolivia
  • Shower curtain: Target
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • Unicorn: gifted
  • Jewelry rack: DIY driftwood piece made by Alex
(Image credit: Elizabeth Backup)


  • “Yes” sign: mismatched vintage neon letters found at the Rose Bowl Flea Market
  • Dartboard: came with the place
  • Driftwood planter: gift
  • Cow skull: Santa Fe, NM
  • Planters on wall: painted wine boxes
  • Suit of armor on front porch: from Max’s childhood

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Thanks, Max & Alex!