Thinking inside the box needn’t be boring, as demonstrated by a home renovation and expansion in Los Angeles for a semiretired couple and their beloved cat. The house’s redesigned interiors comprise a group of three rooms at its core that accommodate private activities, such as sleeping, stretching, and meditating. This personal zone is wrapped by the more communal spaces, including a pair of home offices and a large living/dining/kitchen area. This comfortable scheme came about through the collaboration of the style-savvy clients with their friend, architect Annie Barrett (of Brooklyn, New York–based aanda); Barrett, in turn, called on her former grad-school classmate Hye-Young Chung (HYCArch) in Los Angeles to ensure a cohesive, well executed design despite her practicing on the opposite coast.
Sharing more than half the public zone with the dining and living areas, the open-plan kitchen benefits from loads of daylight pouring through the room’s expansive windows and a generous skylight in its faceted ceiling. “This quality of flux was immensely important to us and to the clients,” says Barrett. “The skylight engages the shifting qualities of light to bring a sense of the unexpected. It makes the home come to life.” A secondary skylight, tucked out of sight above the kitchen sink, introduces additional task lighting for morning and afternoon washing and prepping.
“The clients wanted to conceal any and all clutter,” says Chung. For this reason, “We designed 66 pieces of cabinetry that house everything from appliances and dishes to stepladders and clothing, even eyeglasses. Every square inch was scrutinized to ensure efficiency.” Faced with painted medium-density fiberboard (MDF) front panels and doors—smooth or CNC-milled, with a tactile, pleat-like surface—this white casework conceals a paneled refrigerator, microwave, and dishwasher along the sink wall, as well as a kick-release stool below the sink for the shorter of the two clients. Just opposite, an 11-by-3-foot island topped by black sintered-porcelain contains a cooktop and two ovens, as well as additional storage and seating.
The architects designed custom storage (1 & 2) that holds everything from utensils to kitty litter. Photos © Brandon Shigeta
The custom MDF-clad units continue along the south-facing external wall of an adjacent corridor—a strategy that also adds a layer of insulation, to mitigate heat gain from the harsh California sun. Here the clients stash everything from craft supplies to puzzles. More importantly, this wall integrates the needs of the family’s feline member. Suggested by the client, this pet station includes a hidden kitty-litter drawer—circular entrance included—and a food nook beside it.
Barrett recalls, “The cat was an important, if adorably obstructive part of the design process, with a knack for lying down on exactly the drawing we’d be discussing.” One might say it was a welcome distraction for intense discussions. In addition to holding numerous Zoom meetings, Barrett would fly out to Los Angeles. “We met every month in person, throughout the 18-month-long design process, and these were epic, daylong sessions!”
Click plan to enlarge
aanda and HYCArch
Silverstrand (millwork), Kathryn Toth/Theia Lighting (lighting)
2,300 square feet (house)
Foscarini (pendants), Graffiti (downlights)
PITT, Gaggenau, Miele