A Home Design Worthy of Venice's "Coolest Block in America"
In April 2012, shortly after John Trott and Noralisa Villarreal completed the one-and-a-half-year renovation of their old shotgun house on Venice’s main drag, Abbot Kinney Boulevard, GQ named a nearby stretch of AKB “The Coolest Block in America.” Coincidence? We think not.
Amid Venice’s aging cottages, industrial warehouses and cutting-edge buildings (some by contemporary masters such as Frank Gehry and Steven Ehrlich), the couple’s home is a suave iteration of the beach community’s modernist roots. “Venice is known for its eclectic architecture,” says Jeffrey Kim, their architect and principal of Pasadena’s Forward Design Office. “I wanted the home to be unique, yet integrated into its surroundings.”
The spiral staircase on the home of John Trott and Noralisa Villarreal is set against a vibrant punch of neon green. The architecture’s signature S curve shapes the overhang crowning the stairs, which wind up to the roof deck.
The design’s stylish impact starts with its corner lot, which allows three sides of the boxy spectacle to be viewed and admired. A slight S curve—it starts at the roofline in front and drops to ground level in back—is a bold graphic that also tones down the architecture’s sharp lines. The dynamic indigo cement paneling leads the eye toward a new entrance on Abbot Kinney (it was once the back of the house). Flashes of neon green stucco from the courtyard not only generate intrigue, but also echo the colorful architectural accents—and the trendy sartorial ones—that can be found around town.
Kim emphasized the loftiness of the new great room by creating interest on the ceiling: It’s now paneled with American black walnut, which was chosen for its imperfect variations. Also, the walls that once separated the foyer, main hallway and kitchen were removed to achieve that distinguishing virtue of modern design: an open floor plan.
The entry courtyard off Abbot Kinney is dotted with tufts of Mexican feather grass and is dramatically accentuated by an LED-lit water feature—both work strategically to soften the angular modern architecture. The dynamic indigo cement paneling leads the eye toward a new entrance on Abbot Kinney (it was once the back of the house).