Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

SOCAL STYLE / Home

Decked Out

How Simple Materials and Creative Freedom Turned a Small House into Something Special

March 05, 2000|MICHAEL WEBB

Film animator John Howley and freelance fashion designer Linnea Mielcarek loved their 1923 Craftsman-style cottage in Venice. But there was one serious drawback: Its 825 square feet were chopped up into a warren of tiny rooms. "Only after we moved in did we realize how tight it felt," says Mielcarek. "We looked for a design-build firm that would open up the living area, integrate it with the backyard and allow us to entertain groups of friends."

They turned to Sintesi, a partnership of two young architectural designers, Mariana Boctor and Jose Abel Fontiveros. Client and designer worked closely together to achieve a low-budget remodel that combines the living, kitchen and dining areas into a loft-like space that extends out onto a new rear deck.

The owners wanted more than elbow room and expansive walls for their paintings. They asked the designers for "an industrial, earthy, rustic look," using elements of concrete, plywood and steel that would be gutsily exposed. The Sintesi team employed techniques influenced by the work of the late Gordon Matta-Clark, a New York artist best known for cutting sharp, angular incisions into the walls of abandoned buildings to reveal the structure and spaces behind. For example, a jagged cutout in the ceiling exposes the joists of the cottage. This angular outline is repeated in the design of both the sheet-metal shade canopy over the rear deck and the back facade's exterior privacy screen of translucent plastic, concrete board and galvanized sheet metal.

Indoors, a closet was relocated to make it easier to enter the rear bedroom, but otherwise the two sleeping areas were left unchanged. In the kitchen, only a concrete-and-maple plywood serving island breaks the flow into the dining area. Galvanized metal air-conditioning ducts were turned into storage cabinets beneath the serving counter. An overhead storage shelf is made from a zig-zag-shaped slab of sandblasted Lexan--bulletproof plastic scavenged from the teller's booth of a former bank. To free up space within the house, the water heater on the deck is concealed within a large spiral-shaped pipe, and a cement-board floor with oak inlay, stained to match the existing oak floor, links the interior and deck. Though both designer and client contributed innovative ideas to the remodel, the owners gave Sintesi a free hand during the design process. Mielcarek says, "We are artists ourselves, and we know what it feels like to be over-directed."

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|