Architect Don Dimster celebrates the concept of communal family space with a pair of homes in Venice, California, for himself and his brother. Read Full Article
The dramatic staircase in architect Dom Dimster’s Southern California home is made from T- and L-profile steel, shelf board, glass panels, and plate steel. Electric shades on the outside of the house keep the sun from penetrating the glass wall of the staircase and overheating the interior.
With a fire pit, mobile shades, and drought-tolerant grasses recessed in the Mangaris plank expanse, the roof deck is a communal space in the duplex. The Kookaburra Shade Sail, made of a woven polymer material that prevents mold, can be moved around as needed.
The glass staircase figures prominently in the facade, but Don designed the windows to ensure privacy. Using computer models, he conducted visual studies to suss out sight lines from the street. “People can’t see in, but we still get light.”
Don preferred closed cabinets for his kitchen but Dennis didn’t want doors swinging out. So Don designed plywood sliders that park at specific positions and fit together like puzzle pieces in Dennis’s space. Contractor Franklin Pineda custom-built the cabinets using Baltic birch plywood from Anderson Plywood. See more ways to design with plywood.
A nine-foot-tall door covered with quarter-inch white oak slides along a ceiling rail and can be moved with just a finger to close off Don and Lisa’s kitchen or bedroom. Made of wood and metal, and welded onsite, the door moves along 400-pound-capacity rollers by McMaster-Carr. A matching sliding door opposite hides a storage area. “Because of their size, the doors had to be made inside,” says Don, who did the job himself. mcmaster.com
Half of the table can be manually raised to counter height, making an ideal serving, prep, or work station. “Don did all of the welding,” Lisa says, “and I’d hold the fire-spark cloth to protect the cabinets and wood bench.”
Don originally wanted to have wood floors throughout the interior but for cost reasons decided to use lightweight concrete instead. “In order to make it as resilient to cracks as possible, the concrete is extra thick—two-and-a-half inches—and has fiberglass and wire mesh reinforcing,” he says. “It was polished and machine-troweled as it was being finished, the same as the lower-level concrete slab, so we could get a similar look throughout.”
The master bathroom has a small window and a large skylight above the shower—and shares a translucent glass expanse with the kitchen, where it becomes the backsplash. “Even though it’s a buried room,” Don says, “we have three sources of natural light. For the shower, we made a very high curb so you can stop up the drain and turn it into a big soaking tub. We used white, one-by-four-inch or one-by-six-inch Carrara marble tiles from Royal Stone and Tile. They come on a 12-by-12-inch sheet. I got the small tiles because you can use them to work the bottom plane into the shower.” royalstonela.com