written by:
March 7, 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 8: Furnishing the living area.
 

 

As noted by previous tenants, living in Ellwood’s Courtyard apartments is a constant source of pleasure. Even when we are busy working we are enjoying the space. One of our main strategies in furnishing the living area is the use of natural materials to soften the space and keep things as elemental as the building. The ground floor in the back functions as an informal living room, which doubles as overflow workspace. It needed to be a comfortable place to sit and for people to gather around the fireplace; it had to work for both live and work; and it also had to be durable and able to stand up to kids. This week we are primarily focusing on furnishing the living space, with a little help from two of our favorite furniture and lifestyle shops in Los Angeles: Tortoise and Specific. Both shops provide an aesthetically tuned eye and present unique one-of-a-kind objects, art and furniture pieces that are handcrafted, beautiful and affordable. The other major feature in our living space is the artwork, with our good friend Uta Barth’s photos as the centerpiece.

The Ellwood interior is lined with douglas fir tongue-and-groove boards. The natural color of the exposed wood and the brick walls provide a rich environment to start with. We decided to stick with a palette of wood, felt hemp, and other natural materials
The Ellwood interior is lined with douglas fir tongue-and-groove boards. The natural color of the exposed wood and the brick walls provide a rich environment to start with. We decided to stick with a palette of wood, felt hemp, and other natural materials.
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The main furniture pieces are from <a href="http://www.tortoiselife.com/trts/store/">Tortoise</a>. The couch and coffee table are made by Taku Shinomoto, who owns the store with his wife Keiko. Taku’s minimalist high back crate couch helps to contain the
The main furniture pieces are from Tortoise. The couch and coffee table are made by Taku Shinomoto, who owns the store with his wife Keiko. Taku’s minimalist high back crate couch helps to contain the living space and shelter it from the work space just behind. Made from standard pine boards, both couch and coffee table reflect a simplicity and economy. The pieces continue the legacy of Enzo Mari’s unfinished wooden furniture pieces—where you would do the cutting at the lumber yard, and the finishing was limited to fastening the pieces together. The Ny rocking chair by Takeshi Nii is also from Tortoise. All of these pieces together cost less than $2000.
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The Ny rocking chair is perfect for working with your laptop, too, when you need a break from the desk. One of our collaborators, Andy Goldman, took advantage of it when we were working on a project together this week.
The Ny rocking chair is perfect for working with your laptop, too, when you need a break from the desk. One of our collaborators, Andy Goldman, took advantage of it when we were working on a project together this week.
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We bought the couch right out of the Tortoise shop, which is filled with beautiful objects, mostly from Japan but not exclusively. Alma Allen’s gorgeous turned wood stools in the front are made at his studio in Joshua Tree. Tortoise takes a manifesto appr
We bought the couch right out of the Tortoise shop, which is filled with beautiful objects, mostly from Japan but not exclusively. Alma Allen’s gorgeous turned wood stools in the front are made at his studio in Joshua Tree. Tortoise takes a manifesto approach to lifestyle, the main idea being that life is long and our environment and objects within it should reflect the wisdom of our cultural history, with a strong appreciation of craft. We love how the couch is elegantly detailed while maintaining its rigorous economy.
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We also created a customized furniture piece—a storage unit along a wall in the living area. First we made a quick call to the House of Hardwoods in Westwood to get a couple nice pieces of square-cut vertical grain douglas fir planks. The old shop has a g
We also created a customized furniture piece—a storage unit along a wall in the living area. First we made a quick call to the House of Hardwoods in Westwood to get a couple nice pieces of square-cut vertical grain douglas fir planks. The old shop has a great vibe.
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For about $170 we had two boards cut to the length of our modular steel cubes. This is where we stash all of our office supplies and binders.
For about $170 we had two boards cut to the length of our modular steel cubes. This is where we stash all of our office supplies and binders.
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The modular steel cubes are a very inexpensive and expandable solution for shelving and storage, at $50 a cube. We temporarily depleted the local Container Stores of their cube supplies to fulfill all our shelving needs, as books and art (as well as our o
The modular steel cubes are a very inexpensive and expandable solution for shelving and storage, at $50 a cube. We temporarily depleted the local Container Stores of their cube supplies to fulfill all our shelving needs, as books and art (as well as our office) are just about the only things we moved into the space with.
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One of the great details in the Courtyard Apartments is the cantilevered stair. Our steps double as shoe storage as we have a no-shoes policy upstairs. Under the stairs we can store flexible seating, such as this felt pouf from OK and grass tatami cushion
One of the great details in the Courtyard Apartments is the cantilevered stair. Our steps double as shoe storage as we have a no-shoes policy upstairs. Under the stairs we can store flexible seating, such as this felt pouf from OK and grass tatami cushions from Tortoise.
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The round felt pouf and tatami cushions enable close fireside gathering.
The round felt pouf and tatami cushions enable close fireside gathering.
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At night we sit by the fire. There is something primitively enjoyable about sitting close to a fire; it’s a multi-sensory ambient experience.
At night we sit by the fire. There is something primitively enjoyable about sitting close to a fire; it’s a multi-sensory ambient experience.
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By day the coffee table doubles as a play surface. Our friends David and Diane Glean gave us this great wood block set from the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation that can be used to build the canonical Wright houses. We probably enjoy them as much, if not mor
By day the coffee table doubles as a play surface. Our friends David and Diane Glean gave us this great wood block set from the Frank Lloyd Wright foundation that can be used to build the canonical Wright houses. We probably enjoy them as much, if not more, than Oleana.
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At the moment we are into building marble mazes and ramp structures, and setting up obstacles to knock down.
At the moment we are into building marble mazes and ramp structures, and setting up obstacles to knock down.
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The coffee table is highly kid friendly. Its good to have a coffee table that can’t hurt you, and vice versa.
The coffee table is highly kid friendly. Its good to have a coffee table that can’t hurt you, and vice versa.
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Often the couch doubles as a parkour course—which we also don’t have to worry about.
Often the couch doubles as a parkour course—which we also don’t have to worry about.
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To soften the concrete floors we have a large felt rug from <a href="http://peaceindustry.com/">Peace Industry</a>, designed by Melina Rassnia. The 1-inch-thick felt rug was handcrafted in Turkey in the tradition of ancient nomadic tribes of Central Asia,
To soften the concrete floors we have a large felt rug from Peace Industry, designed by Melina Rassnia. The 1-inch-thick felt rug was handcrafted in Turkey in the tradition of ancient nomadic tribes of Central Asia, which Peace Industry is helping revitalize. They also made the pouf for OK. A hemp blanket from Heather Heron for Environment is draped over the couch.
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A source for great handcrafted objects and furniture, many of them locally made, is the gallery/shop Specific, owned and curated by Brooks Hudson Thomas. This tiny shop is full of amazing things that satisfy the senses. Here are Alan and Brooks amid a lan
A source for great handcrafted objects and furniture, many of them locally made, is the gallery/shop Specific, owned and curated by Brooks Hudson Thomas. This tiny shop is full of amazing things that satisfy the senses. Here are Alan and Brooks amid a landscape of wonderful things.
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The pink striped Overwashed Ombre cushions by Kate Samphier, from Specific, give a little color to the neutral grounds, and a little extra insulation for the Ny rocking chair back.
The pink striped Overwashed Ombre cushions by Kate Samphier, from Specific, give a little color to the neutral grounds, and a little extra insulation for the Ny rocking chair back.
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Now that all the elements are in harmony, we can finally relax.
Now that all the elements are in harmony, we can finally relax.
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The Ellwood interior is lined with douglas fir tongue-and-groove boards. The natural color of the exposed wood and the brick walls provide a rich environment to start with. We decided to stick with a palette of wood, felt hemp, and other natural materials
The Ellwood interior is lined with douglas fir tongue-and-groove boards. The natural color of the exposed wood and the brick walls provide a rich environment to start with. We decided to stick with a palette of wood, felt hemp, and other natural materials.

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

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