Architects At Home In Venice


Between them, Los Angeles architects Julie Smith-Clementi and Frank Clementi have more than six decades of experience as partners in their renowned former firm Rios Clementi Hale– and now on their own at their recently launched Smith-Clementi. They’ve worked on a huge scope of projects, ranging from tabletop at notNeutral to important public spaces like the redesign of the Hollywood Bowl.

“We really don’t see the boundary between scales. Design is the only way we know to answer questions, so it doesn’t really matter what the scale is.”

Photo Credit: Steven Eickelbeck

Just as their practice has evolved over the years, so has their home. On Nowita Place, one of the loveliest walk streets in Venice, it all began as young architects renovating the somewhat tumbledown bungalow. Fast forward a few years and they embarked on a major remodel, expanding the house upwards and creating a new master suite in a lantern-like tree house structure that’s not only visually exciting but is actually constructed to withstand seismic activity.

Soon afterwards, they purchased and renovated the bungalow next door (in part to save a magnificent Magnolia Grandiflora in the front yard that dominated their property as well) creating a snapshot of the sophisticated architectural style we think of as Venice Vernacular. Below, new Venice and vintage Venice– the tree house and second bungalow– viewed from the alley behind the compound.

Bay windows in the living and dining rooms have butt glass corners, expanding the view into the garden rather than framing it.

What We Love: There’s a masterful sense of continuity in the materials palette throughout the house that gives the entire composition an effortless feel. The deep grey-green of the fireplace wall of painted sheet metal echoes in a column next to the staircase. The painted floors continue out onto the deck, shiplap gives the ceilings a rhythm extending out into the eaves, and plywood is valued for its decorative patterns, creating a home that’s both design lab and shelter.

Below, the tree house master bedroom with the sky (and that magnolia) filtered through the open framing.

Photo Credits: Undine Prohl unless noted otherwise
Image at Top: Julie-Smith Clementi