Making the most of small spaces is what Karla Champion does best. With her late husband, Gower--the dancer, choreographer and director--and some friends, she began buying and remodeling houses several years ago as an avocation and for investment purposes. However, her innate sense of space utilization and design resulted in the hobby turning into a thriving design business.
"Gower had a wonderful sense of design and exquisite taste, and my father was a builder, so I have always been exposed to building and design," Champion says. "And I've had a lot of time to practice my craft during the last few years."
Four years ago, not long after her husband's death, she moved from the Mandeville Canyon home that they had shared--a large, contemporary house on 2 1/2 acres, deep in the canyon--to this small, more centrally located cottage.
"There was something special about this house that I felt the first time I saw it," she says. "I simply had to have it. It is small and cozy; it's unusual to see a little New England-type country cottage near one of the busiest commercial areas of Los Angeles. It was built in 1928 by playwright Marc Connelly, who evidently wanted to re-create a bit of his native Cape Cod in his Los Angeles home. He lived here into the 1940s, and the house is still much the way he had it."