written by:
February 23, 2011

In this exclusive series for Dwell.com, Linda Taalman of Taalman Koch Architecture tracks the hands-on renovation of her and her partner's live-work space in Hollywood, California. Week 7: Flashback!

This week’s post is a lead-up to the living solutions we will soon propose for our living and dining spaces.

Since starting this blog post with Dwell, we’ve connected with individuals who have had a special relationship to Ellwood and the Courtyard Apartments. This week we had a visit from Frank Swig, the first tenant of unit A of the Courtyard Apartments, who lived here from 1953-1962. He shared with us his stories of living here as a bachelor in his 20’s when he came out to Hollywood to work at CBS as an art director. The CBS studios are only a block away and he was walking down our street one day when he saw a 'for rent' sign taped up in the window. Frank gave us a peek into the ‘Mad Men’ era he lived in and the style of the apartment at that time.

He’s the second octogenarian we’ve recently met that has a strong relationship with this building. Al and Trudy Kallis, a couple who wanted to build one of our itHouses, knew the architect, Craig Ellwood, personally and they generously gave us an original copy of a rare Ellwood book with great photos of the Ellwood Apartments when they were brand new. Frank pointed to one of the pictures in the book and said, “See that in the upstairs window? That’s my easel!”

Frank Swig, 1954.
Frank Swig, 1954.
1 / 11
Frank arrived with a folio of clippings and his own photographs of the building. This is Unit B, which has since been joined to Unit A (according to Frank, sometime in the 80s). This unit is now our living room. The picture is taken from the pocket kitche
Frank arrived with a folio of clippings and his own photographs of the building. This is Unit B, which has since been joined to Unit A (according to Frank, sometime in the 80s). This unit is now our living room. The picture is taken from the pocket kitchen looking across the dining room table with the hanging cupboard above.
2 / 11
Frank told us how he took off the legs of a couch and put it on the floor next to the fireplace. We can also see in this image that the paver in the courtyard used to be about a foot larger than it is today.
Frank told us how he took off the legs of a couch and put it on the floor next to the fireplace. We can also see in this image that the paver in the courtyard used to be about a foot larger than it is today.
3 / 11
As shown in this picture, we learned that all the wood, inside and out, was a natural ‘driftwood’ grey finish, and the floors were gray linoleum 12 x 12 tile. . (Now the interior wood is natural doug fir and the courtyard wood is painted white). Frank jok
As shown in this picture, we learned that all the wood, inside and out, was a natural ‘driftwood’ grey finish, and the floors were gray linoleum 12 x 12 tile. . (Now the interior wood is natural doug fir and the courtyard wood is painted white). Frank joked that Craig Ellwood did not approve of his furniture! Noticing the painting and the stereo in this picture, I asked him if he listened to “Kind of Blue” by Miles Davis, which was recorded in 1958. But Frank replied that he preferred female vocalists... The light switch pole (which we love) was apparently a concession of the architect to the building department, which required a light switch at the front door. In the Ellwood apartments, there is no formal front door—instead there is a glass wall with sliding doors across the entire façade.
4 / 11
The garden has a totally different vibe with the soft gray wood (and the sculptures) The current white paint of the courtyards is blinding many days—especially in the summer. We are looking at toning it down with a similar light gray exterior paint finish
The garden has a totally different vibe with the soft gray wood (and the sculptures) The current white paint of the courtyards is blinding many days—especially in the summer. We are looking at toning it down with a similar light gray exterior paint finish.
5 / 11
Frank’s stereo/console neatly tucks away. Too bad we can't do the same with our CAD workstations.
Frank’s stereo/console neatly tucks away. Too bad we can't do the same with our CAD workstations.
6 / 11
The original kitchen was a little pocket kitchen with a small dining area and overhead cabinet.
The original kitchen was a little pocket kitchen with a small dining area and overhead cabinet.
7 / 11
The cabinets are beautifully simple and the cork backsplash would have been lovely. Cork backsplash has got us thinking...
The cabinets are beautifully simple and the cork backsplash would have been lovely. Cork backsplash has got us thinking...
8 / 11
The refrigerator is tucked in the void under the stair, making the kitchen more a composition of furniture than appliances.
The refrigerator is tucked in the void under the stair, making the kitchen more a composition of furniture than appliances.
9 / 11
<em>Wexler Family House, Palm Springs, 1955. Photo by Juergen Nogai, 2010.</em> This week another cool octogenarian, besides Ellwood, the Kallises, and Swig is on our minds: the architect Donald Wexler. Wexler is currently being recognized at the Palm Spr
Wexler Family House, Palm Springs, 1955. Photo by Juergen Nogai, 2010. This week another cool octogenarian, besides Ellwood, the Kallises, and Swig is on our minds: the architect Donald Wexler. Wexler is currently being recognized at the Palm Springs Museum with an exhibition “Steel and Shade” that covers the last six decades of his work. Like Ellwood, Wexler made the 50’s sleek and modern and pushed the development of material and structural building technology. Also like Ellwood he focused on steel as an innovative system to enable the California lifestyle of indoor/outdoor living. Wexler’s own house, pictured here, inspires us to reconsider more neutral possibilities for the Courtyard Apartments, beyond its current stark black and white.
10 / 11
<em>Wexler Family House, Palm Springs, 1955. Photo by Juergen Nogai, 2010. </em> Next week, on Saturday February 26, in Palm Springs during Modernism Week, the Museum’s Architecture and Design Council will sponsor a <a href="http://www.psmuseum.org/progra
Wexler Family House, Palm Springs, 1955. Photo by Juergen Nogai, 2010. Next week, on Saturday February 26, in Palm Springs during Modernism Week, the Museum’s Architecture and Design Council will sponsor a series of lectures about the importance of post-war architecture and its innovations, a symposium on Wexler’s legacy, and tours of several Wexler houses. I will be participating in the symposium along with two other contemporary architects, Barton Meyers and Lance O’Donnel, who continue the legacy built by Wexler and Case Study architects such as Ellwood. Hope to see you there.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

11 / 11
Frank Swig, 1954.
Frank Swig, 1954.

To see images of the project, please visit the slideshow. Click here to read past installments of the series.

 

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

45 dva 2270 persp1 cmyk 0
The prospect of retirement doesn’t just signal the end of a career; it offers the chance to recalibrate and re-prioritize in life.
July 25, 2016
18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016