THE SIMPLICITY of architect Ted Tokio Tanaka's white stucco home makes it a standout in a Venice neighborhood of small, bungalow-style houses built between the 1920s and the '50s. The first house that Tanaka, who designs commercial and residential buildings, has designed for himself is, as he explains it, simply "a box with sections carved out for a courtyard and carports." And, he says, his goal was to create a house without pretensions.
The 2,600-square-foot main residence, which he shares with his wife, Diana Ho, a real estate broker, has what he calls an "inward orientation"--the interior of the residence is a courtyard surrounded by living, dining and kitchen areas. The design provides complete privacy--all doors and windows look out onto the courtyard.
Local zoning ordinances permitted him to design the structure as a duplex to defray mortgage costs. A 1,300-square-foot rental unit fronts the property, insulating Tanaka's residence from street noises.
A graphic study in black and white, the main living space has a 20-foot-high ceiling. "We wanted the house to look like a combination art gallery and restaurant," Tanaka explains. "We like art, we like to eat, and we like to listen to music. Diana plays the piano, and she's a great cook. We love to entertain, and this place works great for small and large groups of people." Tanaka points out the large black concrete bar and granite countertop in the kitchen as not unlike what you might find in a trendy Westside restaurant.