In Venice Beach, a Renovation by Peter Culley

The owners of bungalow two blocks back from Venice Beach wanted an addition and renovation – without sacrificing their home’s Craftsman roots.

“They were very keen not to lose the older identity of the bungalow,” says architect Peter Culley of London-based Spatial Affairs Bureau. “They wanted to avoid putting on a modernist extension.”

Not everyone in the community of Venice Beach feels that way. The neighborhood started out Craftsman, then evolved into a mix of styles that eventually included Post-Modernism and then Frank Gehry. “At a later stage, modernism arrived, but not in a refined way,” he says.  “Buildings were pulled down and modern ones, very boxy, were put up.”

So Culley respected the Shingle Style exterior with his 900-square-foot addition off the back of the Venice Beach bungalow – and saved his modernist chops for the interior. “It was not a remake – I wanted to find something that could be fresh and of 2020 – now – and have some kind of look back,” he says. “I wanted something more intricate and textured in its material palette.”

Outside, the Venice Beach addition is clad in Douglas fir, with painted cedar shingles around it. “We painted the shingles of the original bungalow too, as a reference,” he says.

Inside, he initiated a gut renovation. “I did not want a remake but to take it to a new level, so now it has a new bedroom, bath and living area,” he says. “It’s a more poetic experience – to enjoy that Southern California light because of the new skylight.”

Now it’s clean and coherent inside, with a new roof line, the skylight running down its center. “That was a way on a practical level to provide light into the middle, and to give a link to what was happening with the new and old building,” he says.

Underneath, he carved out parking for two vehicles. On top, he thrust the master bedroom skyward. “It’s up in the treetops like you’re up in a crow’s nest,” he says.

He left the front façade, where a Craftsman-style door leads to a garden and its gate, untouched.

The whole affair is an exercise in how to maximize space with minimal intrusion – from a firm that mingles architecture, landscape, and interior design with just the right touch – for Venice Beach.

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