The site, on a dense residential street in Venice, Calif., posed challenges: Closely surrounded by other houses, it was a long, narrow piece of infill, 40 feet by 135 feet. But architects Trevor Abramson and Douglas Teiger embraced its linearity, taking a potential disadvantage, turning it into a strength, and creating a home that’s as comfortable as it is striking.
“The house was designed to address the issue,” acknowledges Abramson of the long, skinny plan that’s essentially a bar with an additional piece attached at either end. Think shotgun gone sophisticated: The flow goes straight from the street entrance to the back door. An impressive swath of soapstone and Wenge cabinetry running the length of the family room and kitchen serves to underscore the home’s linear feel.
The secret weapon to making a long, skinny house feel spacious is being able to push the interaction between inside and out as far as it can comfortably go. (Thank you, SoCal climate.) Sliding window walls open out onto courtyard spaces. Trespa panels that go from courtyard walls to interior ones help maintain that feel; the phenolic resin panel’s sage-green hue helps bring the outside in.
On one long side of the house is a courtyard with both a garden and a swimming pool (yes, it’s a long, skinny pool that’s perfect for laps). Olive trees grow at the front entrance. Floors are a combination of concrete and smooth-pebble aggregate that looks almost like a rug and massages your feet when you walk on it, says Abramson.
As with any client, the duo asked loads of questions about lifestyle, habits, and requirements. “Hers were over and above just living in the house,” recalls Abramson, describing eclectic furniture and art objects culled from years of traveling the world, plus an extensive collection of first edition books. “She wanted a house that was modern, but that would provide a quiet backdrop for her art and furniture,” says Teiger.
Clean and contemporary without the chilly edge is no easy task. “That part of Venice has a lot of modern, artistic homes,” says Abramson. “We wanted the house to be distinctive, but didn’t want it to look different for the sake of being trendy.” Instead of being a blank monolith, the two-story home’s north façade is a sculptural wall of rectangles in recess and relief, punctuated by modular windows. The result is a shadowplay that’s crisp yet friendly, “Warm modernism that’s really livable,” says Teiger. “That’s what we’re known for.”