Beautiful LA Lifestyle

LA OF THOSE SPARKLING BEACHES, EPIC MOUNTAINS, 300 DAYS OF SUNSHINE. LA OF WORK LIFE BALANCE (A REAL THING). LA OF STILL SEMI AFFORDABLE HOUSING. A PHOTOGRAPHER FRIEND AND HIS WIFE WHO WENT LEFT EARLIER THIS YEAR TRADED A DODGY GROUND FLOOR ONE BEDROOM IN BROOKLYN FOR A THREE BEDROOM HOUSE IN HIGHLAND PARK. THEIR RENT? LESS.

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“Does it ever stop feeling like a vacation here?” I ask an old friend from New York. He has moved to Los Angeles, and I am visiting. We are sitting in front of the blob of buildings at Sunset Junction in Silverlake. The red paint glows in the sunlight. To our right is coffee temple Intelligentsia, where creative types queue seemingly all day long for a caffeine fix, or set up shop at a grouping of shaded outside tables, laptops clicking. Most people wear sunglasses, most are attractive. To our left, a shop specializes in succulents.

What began with a few souls quietly packing their cars in the night has grown into a full blown westward demonstration. People are leaving New York for LA. And really, why wouldn’t they? LA of those sparkling beaches, epic mountains, 300 days of sunshine. LA of work life balance (a real thing). LA of still semi affordable housing. A photographer friend and his wife who went West earlier this year traded a dodgy ground floor one bedroom in Brooklyn for a three bedroom house in Highland Park. Their rent? Less.

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What happened to the strikes that out of towners used to hold against this place? Of plasticity, of vapidity, of a lack of museums, and mediocre at best celebrity chef piloted restaurants. Those have changed, or are in the process of being obliterated altogether. The revitalization of Downtown LA (DTLA if you speak in acronyms) with its booming Grand Central market, scores of hip hotels, eateries, stores, lofts, and apartments has helped shepherd a young creative class to a city sorely lacking one. There are clothing designers cutting denim at Downtown factories, graphic designers tweaking websites in light filled Culver City studios, and the musicians – everyone young and influential in the music industry is camped out here. Artists, too. The average age of guests who line up to get into buzzy, contemporary mecca The Broad? Just 32.

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At the opposite end of the LA spectrum, the unflappable and bubbled Hollywood neighborhoods have been altered forever. Beverly Hills, with its Ferrari dealerships and 500 USD dinners, has been left to rot in the hands of the blue hairs. And a recent spin through West Hollywood on a Monday evening found every venue but the venerable Chateau Marmont stone dead. While just around the corner, on West Sunset, the dining room at millennial friendly Thai street food spot Night + Market was packed. (I ate my Pad Thai at the counter.)
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“I can’t wrap my head around LA,” my New York fashion friend has said when I’ve brought it up. “Everyone’s eyes are glassed over and they’re telling you: ‘It’s so amazing here!’ Major Kool-Aid vibes.”  Admittedly, I’ve loved LA for some time now. In 2009 I visited a friend who had a whitewashed bungalow set back from Abbott Kinney Boulevard in Venice. We sat swapping stories over kale in the backyard of Gjelina, rode our cruiser bikes to the post office to get her mail, and fell asleep in hammocks watching the waves. Everything we did seemed vastly superior to my New York life, which at the time, included twice a day AA meetings and sharing a glorified dormitory on the Upper East Side with not one, but three roommates. “I can’t believe this is your life,” I told her, probably too many times.
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It took me seven years, but I finally started sending emails one fall day, harassing the friends who had found their way out to California, asking for a place to crash for the winter months. There was my friend the antique rug dealer over in Eagle Rock, the adventure journalist in Echo Park, the comedian in Santa Monica. The first bite I got back was from the asset manager in Manhattan Beach. “My wife and I have a spare bedroom,” he said on the phone one afternoon. “It’s yours as long as you need it.”

When I pulled into the driveway on a January night, a few days after New Year, I couldn’t believe my luck. Their little house was a block from the crashing water. The spare bedroom was slightly damp in that pleasant way that rooms by the beach are. In the mornings, little slices of sunlight bounced off the stucco ceiling and landed on my face, my forearms. The absence of city noise was alarming at first, but became blissful soon enough. The flinching anxiety took a week or two to melt off. I hiked through the hills. I jogged through town. I wrote. A lot. I lived.

And the asset manager seemed to be living, too. In New York, he’d worn suits, his skin tinted a yellowy grey color. Now he was brown, wore rumpled polo shirts, arrived home by three or four o’clock each afternoon, usually with a heaping bag of fish tacos for dinner. We walked his drooling golden retriever along the beach under the fading orange sun. “We just love it here,” he said, his eyes glowing.

In the LA evenings, I drove and drove. To a house party in Mar Vista. To a bonfire in Glendale. The jaded, that’s too far mentality of any permanent Angelino hadn’t affected me yet, so I drove. During rush hours, and in the middle of the night. To Palm Springs to spend a weekend writing by the pool. To Joshua Tree to watch the sun come up. By the time February rolled around and I was due back in New York, I had a completed manuscript, one I hoped would become a novel. I also had a quandary: Could this place be for me?

Every morning in that guest bedroom, I woke up to three extra hours of emails fired off from the East Coast. Potentially coronary inducing to my New York temperament, right? Not here. No, I’m convinced those several thousand miles did something to shield me from the urgency. Those frantic pleas for revisions and the do or die deadlines seemed like less of a squeeze from out here, like more of a suggestion.

Now, I have no doubt a certain breed of West Coaster would argue, wave their arms in objection. “LA is fast living, man,” they might say. And yeah, relativity is everything – for some, maybe the pace here is less than relaxed. Maybe if you come from Sacramento, or Sausalito. Or maybe the lack of seasons will sterilize you beyond recognition and maybe your eyes will glow, Spicoli-like forever with the vaguely distant tint of a Malibu resident, whose only decision each morning is this: Surf or smoothie? Maybe, just maybe, the 405 will drive you batty.

But I never told you what my old friend said, that morning outside the coffee shop in Silverlake. The friend who had moved to Los Angeles from New York, the friend who said he couldn’t wait to go back East to visit, to flinch, to feel frantic again. He smiled and shook his head when I asked the question: “Does it ever stop feeling like a vacation here?” He said, “No.”

First published in Cereal Magazine
By Sean Hotchkiss
PHOTOS: Rick Poon

Beautiful Residential Home Design #3

“The buildings recall the agricultural forms of the local built environment, but as is our nature in our designs, we sought to take that context and evolve it to a more emphatic modern language. We sought to design something that was exquisitely proportioned in a quiet, agricultural way.” –Tom Kundig

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This artist retreat, designed by Olson Kundig of Seattle, is located on 18 acres of rural agricultural property in Trout Lake, Washington just steps from White Salmon River. Both owners are artists who incorporate the natural landscape into their work – he is a painter and photographer, and she is a textile artist and designer. A key directive in the design of their new home was that it connect them to the surrounding landscape and maximize opportunities for indoor/outdoor living. It was also important for them to have studio space that was separate from the house, but related in form and materiality. All four buildings recall the forms of vernacular agricultural structures, and incorporate tough and low-maintenance building materials with minimal finishes such as concrete, plywood and steel. Wood siding on the main house was milled locally and weathered by the owners themselves. Corrugated metal roofing was also rusted by the owners.

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trout-lake-or-olson-kundig (11)The retreat contains four distinct buildings arranged in two groupings. The first grouping contains the main house, a woodworking shop, and a carport all contained under a single roof in a T-shape. A covered courtyard connects the three spaces in the middle of the “T”. A separate, free-standing artist studio is located just northeast of the main house, with a covered patio that connects to a guest room. Here, the owners work on their own projects, and occasionally host retreats and community-based arts workshops. In all four buildings, large bi-folding doors and sliding barn doors open up the spaces completely to the outdoors, allowing for the movement of large artworks and equipment, as well as an intimate connection with the environment.

trout-lake-or-olson-kundig (9)trout-lake-or-olson-kundig (8)The main house is minimal in form, consisting of a single double height volume with an open plan living, dining and kitchen area separated from a library by a double-sided fireplace. A set of hidden steel stairs nestled into the concrete fireplace lead to a loft above the library. The home’s single bedroom is located above the bathroom and mudroom and is accessed via a set of open stairs in the entry foyer. Two sets of 30-foot-long bi-fold doors in the main living space allow the home to open completely on both sides, maximizing the home’s sweeping views of the nearby river and Mount Adams.

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Site plan

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Photography Jeremy Bitterman
Location: Trout Lake, Washington
Home is 6,594 sf

Beautiful Residential Home Design #2

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Originally occupied by a small cottage in disrepair, this new modern home in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, designed by SHED Architecture, is an economical, efficient, low-maintenance, and modern version of a traditional home – one with primary living spaces on the main floor and three bedrooms above.

The kitchen to occupies a central and commanding position in the house with easy access to the backyard patio. Large floor-to-ceiling sliding doors flank the east and west ends of the house, exposing an open-plan kitchen, dining and living space ideal for entertaining. The kitchen’s minimal palette of bamboo, fir, cork, and concrete allow the natural materials to take center stage without overpowering the functional details including a custom stainless steel pot rack. In order to achieve the desired aesthetic and budget-level, the designers selected cabinets from Ikea and created custom bamboo cabinet fronts and fir wraps with recessed pulls. The bamboo material was selected for and sets the tone for the rest of the house.

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The house sits on a well-traveled arterial along a bus line and is flanked by two multi-unit buildings: to the south a rental house that extends the length of the property line with several windows along that façade; to the north, a triplex with a south-facing entry court encroaches upon the original plot by means of an easement. By limiting windows along the sides of the house and focusing the glazing towards the east and west, the home establishes a strong connection to its front and rear yards while protecting its occupants privacy from the heavily used side-yards of the neighbors. A walled and elevated terrace extending from the sunken living room claims the front yard as usable space and shields the fully glazed living spaces from passersby. Corrugated metal siding and concrete site walls were used where privacy was desired, while wood windows, doors, and siding were used at the sheltered open ends where people interact directly with the building’s exterior.

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The home was also designed with the environment in mind. A low-maintenance high performance enclosure was achieved by using an effective combination of advanced framing (required 30% less lumber), triple-pane windows protected by aluminum plate ‘visors,’ and metal siding. Natural light, open spaces and simple materials come together to create a private sanctuary for the homeowners to cook, entertain and recharge.

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Designed by SHED Architecture + Design 

Beautiful Residential Home Design #1

Sensational, stylish, and startlingly unique—these homes are a cut above. There’s no doubt that one of my favorite places to uncover architectural treasures is on Dwell.com. It’s one of my go to places to admire the riveting spaces and simply admire innovative design. The stunning home below represents 1 of 10 projects that are the best in 2018. From a minimalist modern abode in the South of France to a jaw-dropping artist retreat that embodies indoor/outdoor connection, scroll down to see the first in a series of the best of the best.

Haiku Maui – Haiku, Haiku-Pauwela, Hawaii
Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio 
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Inspired by the Scandinavian barn vernacular, this Upcountry Maui cottage and barn for Cloth and Goods’ Melissa Newirth and Crossing the Threshold’s David Johnson provides a peaceful minimalist retreat and respite for family gatherings. The 1,000 sf. long and low main cottage is sited to capture both mountain and sea vistas while the adjacent barn is designed to hold large family gatherings and act as a seasonal residence. Impeccably minimalist yet richly textured, highly efficient and livable environment with access to a variety of outdoor living zones.

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Guggenheim Architecture + Design Studio is a multidisciplinary creative atelier that integrates architecture, interior environments and brand direction. Studio is licensed to practice Architecture in the States of Oregon, Washington, and Hawaii

Beautiful Vintage Fashion

Over 83,500 Vintage Sewing Patterns Are Now Available Online. McCall’s, Butterick, Simplicity. If you were into sewing, or simply spent time as a child rummaging through patterns at the fabric store, these names will bring on a wave of nostalgia. And now, thanks to a fantastic online collection of vintage sewing patterns, it’s time to dust off your sewing machine.

The Vintage Patterns Wiki offers more than 83,500 patterns that are at least 25 years old, which makes for a fascinating look back at fashion history. As a collaborative effort, the database is constantly being updated and organized, with any newly uploaded patterns dating prior to 1992. Just click on the cover and browse the list of pattern vendors who have the look.

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Whether you just want to ogle the fashion illustrations or get your hands dirty and make a new look, it’s worth browsing the well-organized site. Arranged by decade, garment type, designer, and more, you might just be inspired to whip up a dashiki for your next costume party or try out a Mad Men chic outfit at the office with a skirt suit from the 1960s.

High fashion names like Dior and Givenchy, as well as looks modeled off costumes from movie stars like Audrey Hepburn remind us how pervasive patterns and creating fashions from scratch once were. And with a whole new era of young women going retro, it might be worth giving up vintage shops in favor of creating new pieces based on these vintage patterns. The database is a resource for those interested in fashion design and its history. It features historical, visual guides with sample images of vintage sewing patterns. They can be used by enthusiasts and professional designers to see garment varieties, silhouettes, styles, and colors of different eras. The site’s images also point you in the right direction, if you’re looking to accurately recreate a vintage look.

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It’s also possible to peruse by garment type. You’ll find everything from lingerie to raincoats, wedding dresses to maternity wear, all with vintage flair.

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Beautiful Interior Design

Today’s inspiration comes from this truly magical project called Melfort Townhouse by Conrad Architects. The exquisite restrained materials palette and minimal aesthetic creates a timeless and elegant interior. The result of this exacting approach is the creation of elegant, refined residences that unites characteristics of classic architecture with an aesthetic that is at once sophisticated and distinguished. Defined by outstanding quality, this project is approached independently yet unified by a design philosophy that seeks to create a lasting impact through architectural and interior design excellence.

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Celebrated for an exacting approach to the creation of refined, elegant residences, the practice demonstrates a respect for the long tradition of architecture while taking a holistic approach to the design process. This new project exemplifies Conrad Architect’s commitment to pursuing architecture that is classically minimal and restrained, yet layered with a depth of emotion, sensitively balancing the heritage and the contemporary.

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A grand Georgian-style residence (circa 1935), Melfort is reimagined by Conrad Architects as five townhouses with a deep respect for site heritage and context. The richness of character that has developed over time – Georgian style – is characterized by balance. The symmetrical with classical proportions, and ornamentation is used sparingly.

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The interior design was approached with a distinctly European sensibility, showcasing restraint, yet with moments of fine detailing. A soft, neutral palette is expressed through oak flooring and kitchen joinery, with beautiful Cararra marble used throughout kitchens, bathrooms and ornate fireplaces. Joinery was consciously conceived as distinct furniture pieces, reading as contemporary furniture elements within a historical interior.

With a beautifully curated selection of furniture and lighting throughout, the two living areas have a luxurious feel, with rich texture and classic detailing. The one above features the Tom Verellen Thibaut XL Sofa in white linen upholstery and Geta coffee table by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Galerie kreo. The incredible light that hangs above is the Studio Arrow pendant in brass and calfskin by Apparatus. In the living room, the wonderful curves of the Mass Productions Dandy Sofa is offset by the square lines of the two Gerrit Rietveld Utrecht Chairs. The Kelly Wearstler Tribute Stool and artwork by Richard Serra give the space a graphic touch, while rugs by Armadillo & Co give both rooms further warmth and texture.

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While a common design language was employed throughout, the layering of Georgian detailing was omitted from the new structure to avoid any sense of reproduction.

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The elegant aesthetic continues through to an inviting outdoor area which is furnished with stunning pieces by Vincent Van DuysenB&B Italia and Minotti. With incredible renders created by Third Aesthetic, it will be wonderful to see this incredible project come to life.

Images courtesy of Conrad Architects 

Beautiful Tiny Tower

And you thought your lot was skinny? ISA’s Tiny Tower residence fills leftover plot in Philadelphia.
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Pennsylvania architecture studio ISA has designed a slender 5 story house in a developing Philadelphia neighborhood, as a housing prototype for tiny vacant lots.

ISA’s narrow Tiny Tower is built like a mini-skyscraper, using a steel-reinforced wood frame that is clad in painted metal across its exterior. Windows take up large portions of the street facade.

2tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_7Each of the levels is designed to suit different functions, with the floor space totaling 1,250 square feet (116 sq. meters).

Utilizing compact vertical circulation, Tiny Tower maximizes the entire property’s footprint in both length and height. The house is 12 feet (3.6 meters) wide, 29 feet (8.8 meters) deep, and 38 feet (11.5 meters) tall.

The project is located in Philadelphia’s Brewerytown, which is currently undergoing revitalization as new buildings infill vacant lots.

3tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_6Tiny Tower serves as a prototype for flexible-use buildings on small urban plots. Early waves of redevelopment tend to take advantage of sites with standard dimensions, but the area’s urban grid includes many under-utilized extra small parcels facing alley streets.

99tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_2The tiered structured stands out from its neighbors, which include parking lots and the gardens of adjacent houses. Rather than a yard, Tiny Tower features a lower level window garden, a second level walk out terrace and a roof deck. The design promotes vertical living for both indoor and outdoor space. The ground floor sits slightly below grade, so the building’s height is not too obtrusive on the surroundings. A further basement level allows for enough living space within the volume squeezed onto the tight plot.

6tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_35tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_1Unlocking the development potential of these tiny sites is critical as the city looks to increase its supply of low-cost housing for a diverse range of lifestyles. A folded-plate steel staircase at the front of the house connects all five levels, while a separate exterior stair provides access to the roof.

4tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_col_5The lowest level accommodates a kitchen and bathroom. Above, the main entrance opens to the living room a few steps down. The third floor is used as an office, with two desks across from one another and a small balcony.

The top two stories each house a bedroom and bathroom, and the roof terrace provides extra living space when the weather is nice.

White walls, light wood floors and ample natural light create an airy backdrop inside. All-white furnishings are used sparingly, for a spacious rather than cramped feel.

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11 tiny-tower-isa-architecture-residential-philadelphia-pennsylvania-usa_dezeen_2364_floor-diagrams.jpgISA has also created two other residential projects in Philadelphia: a white townhouse with a plywood core and a housing complex clad in brick, wood and metal.

As land in cities becomes increasingly scarce, architects are coming up with clever solutions to fill in any urban gaps. Other houses that make the most of their tiny plots include a “starter” home with a jagged roofline in New Orleans by OJT, a white house in Brasília by Bloco Arquitetos, and a gabled black residence in Vancouver by D’Arcy Jones Architecture.

Photography is by Sam Oberter
Article Bridget Cogley for Dezeen