Before & After: These Actors Have the Best Built-In Guest Loft/Office/Storage Room After a Remodel
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When actors Jessica Parker Kennedy and Ronen Rubinstein met, he was living in the Arts District in downtown Los Angeles, and the couple explains that like a “couple of lovestruck bozos” they couldn’t stand to be away from each other long, and so she was spending a lot of time at his place. Ronen can be see in Fox’s “911: Lone Star” and the movie “It Felt Like Love.” Along with acting he’s a climate activist, and they both serve as ambassadors for the ocean conservation campaign “Project Zero.” Jessica is best known for her roles in the television series “Black Sails” and The CW’s “Flash,” and she’s also an avid animal welfare advocate and lover. They have two dogs, Fresh and Spot, Fresh being one of the reasons the couple ended up buying this house together on Los Angeles’ East Side.
“Having also accidentally acquired Fresh, the most magical dog on the planet six months into our relationship and the clear strain all of this was putting on Ronen’s incredibly patient roommate, we knew we needed to find a spot to live together,” explains Jessica. “We chose the East Side because we liked the overall eclectic vibe and somehow the perfect house just manifested itself at the the right time. The perfect house with perfect baby blue kitchen cabinets I might add. We were instantly sold.”
It was the layout that they fell in love with the most. “It’s a pretty small space but because the ceilings in the kitchen and master bedroom are really high, the whole house has a very open feel while also being cozy,” Jessica says. “The only thing the house needed when we moved in was an artistic interior design touch and again Mandy Cheng just manifested into our lives and made all of our dreams come true. She really listened to our whimsical desires and elevated our house in both the whimsy category and the storage space category. She’s got a unique idea for everything and unique solution for any conundrum. She’s also a super hands-on designer. I think we saw her at house almost daily for at least a month. We are so grateful to have met her and worked with her.”
The whole home is a combination of the couple’s styles and designer Mandy Cheng’s clever ideas, and after the remodel it’s a space where they can do the things they love most. “We watch a lot of movies. A lot! We have a 75-inch TV and we get lost in our ‘stories,'” admits Jessica. “We also have a delightful cedar hot tub in the backyard. It was the first thing we ever added to the house and it’s the most wonderful decadent slice of pie. Though I suggest to Ronen every summer that we lower the temperature and turn it into a cooling dunk tank, he insist on keeping it hot all year round. Beyond my understanding, he just sits in it with a smile as he turns to soup. Our house is also a giant play pen for our dogs. We adopted our second dog Spot from our neighbor two doors down and to them our house is just a place to loudly and destructively play-wrestle followed by loving snuggles and naps.”
Apartment Therapy Survey:
Our Style: Jessica and Ronen – Whimsical; the mostly grown-up whimsy kind
Mandy Cheng – I would describe Jessica’s style obsession to be an English countryside cottage, but she’s realistic in that she can’t force that onto her home here in LA. So we implemented that style where I thought it was appropriate, and leaned a little more modern or mid-century modern in places where I felt it made more sense. Ronen’s style preference could be succinctly described as a pastel, rainbow-colored pirate ship.
Inspiration: Jessica and Ronen – We were greatly inspired by Caleb Followill and Lily Aldridge’s Nashville home when we saw Lily’s tour on AD’s “Open Door.” We love how homey and full of things their house is without feeling cluttered. It’s a really magical and unique space.
Favorite Element: Jessica and Ronen – Our absolute favorite thing in the house is when the light from the sunset shines through the trees in the front yard and casts shadows on the wall in the living room. It’s a magical time of day.
Mandy Cheng – I really love how the guest bedroom turned out. When I first met Jessica, she took a deep breath and apologized profusely before opening the door to that room. Once she opened the door, I understood why. It was dark, cramped, and filled with a twin bed on one side and stacked boxes from floor to ceiling on the other. All the shades were pulled down, and you couldn’t really step foot inside. My takeaway from that room was that Jessica and Ronen needed more storage in general. Not just in that room, but everywhere. This really drove the way I designed their house.
Biggest Challenge: Jessica and Ronen – Our biggest challenge was when we had to move all of our furniture out of the main bedroom, including a king-size bed and mattress into the living room so that our contractor could renovate our main bathroom. This was a challenge because Ronen was out of town and I decided do it by myself. I also brought the sofa into the bedroom. How I did this on my own, I’ll never know. It was a weird very late night Mighty Mouse project.
Mandy Cheng – They needed storage, and it’s a small house. So I had to get creative in finding ways to implement storage when there really wasn’t any room for it. Hence the full-wall media cabinet and the unique guest bedroom. I also completely reconfigured their main bedroom.
Proudest DIY: Jessica and Ronen – The only thing we can claim as DIY is our cactus garden. Ronen and I don’t really have green thumbs but our cacti have flourished, which has brought us tremendous and unexpected pride.
Biggest Indulgence: Jessica and Ronen – The tile in our bathroom. Absolutely worth it! It brings a smile to my face every single day and relaxes me. I believe this is the exact opposite reaction that our contractor had as he had to cut every single rectangle to match the pattern exactly to each piece.
Is there something unique about your home or the way you use it? Mandy Cheng – Definitely the guest bedroom. During our initial consultation, Jessica mentioned she wanted a guest bedroom and more storage. I think in a slight moment of “how do you think I’m going to achieve this,” I tilted my head back and took a deep breath. That’s when I noticed how high the ceilings were in the guest bedroom and immediately knew that if I lofted the bed, I could put storage underneath and have space for a desk.
What are your favorite products you have bought for your home and why?: Jessica and Ronen –We love Aesop. Their products are vegan and cruelty free and smell amazing.
Mandy Cheng – There are several things we did in this house that I love. One of the most impactful changes was the master shower enclosure. We changed this from a bathtub/shower combo to a step-in shower with a custom steel and glass enclosure and it really makes the bathroom feel elevated despite the smaller size.
Please describe any helpful, inspiring, brilliant or just plain useful small space maximizing
and/or organizing tips you have: Jessica and Ronen – Don’t worry if it’s a small space. Our second bedroom is our most amazing space-saving element in our home. Mandy created the most brilliant design! We have a loft bed and in the staircase to the loft is a full-size coat closet and six draws. We also have a second closet in that room and a full L-shape desk with drawers, so it’s a guest bedroom/office/coat room. It can be done!
Mandy Cheng – Use your wall space! More often than not, clients only look at the available space on the floors of their house and forget about, or don’t know how to use their wall space. More than anything, small spaces need functional storage that don’t jut out into the walk path. Utilizing wall space is key for this. Whether it’s floating shelves, overhead storage, or in the case of a lofted bed with storage underneath, look up and see what you can add to keep your floors clear of clutter.
Finally, what’s your absolute best home secret or decorated advice? Jessica and Ronen –Love what you love. Your home is your safe space and it needs to make you feel like you’re protected. This year has been tough and we absolutely know how lucky we are to have such a beautiful space to come home to. Not everyone has that and we don’t take one day of it for granted.
Mandy Cheng – Just because the space is small, don’t feel like you have to make everything white. By incorporating color into their entertainment center, it really livened up the living room while still making it feel spacious, bright, cozy and inviting. It also helped define that area of the house from the adjacent dining room.
PAINT & COLORS
- Anything white — Benjamin Moore Simply White
- Living Room Built-In — Benjamin Moore Garden Oasis 699
- Black Steel Window — Weathershield
- Front Dutch Door — Custom
- Piano — Roland Kiyola