A Composer and Fashion Designer Add an Inspiring Creative Space to Their Los Angeles Backyard

The two-level ADU is decked out with a light-filled recording studio for him, and for her, a luminous design space with soaring ceilings and sliding glass doors.

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In a city notorious for its rush hour traffic jams, Los Angeles couple Brad Breeck, a TV and film composer, and Jeana Sohn, a clothing designer, are blessed with a remarkably short commute. Their shared workplace, a two-level accessory dwelling unit (ADU) they added to their property in the Silver Lake neighborhood, isn’t more than a 30-second walk through their backyard and past a swimming pool that was built at the same time.

Light woods and white-painted MDF panels pair with racing green cabinetry in the kitchen of an ADU designed by L.A. architect John Colter for composer Brad Breeck and fashion designer Jeana Sohn.

"I love seeing this color every day," says Jeana. 

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Prior to the new construction, Brad and Jeana were working from home to be with their young son but badly needed a better setup. Jeana was working in their bedroom, which wasn’t ideal when clients would come over to try on clothes. Brad, meanwhile, was recording in the downstairs guest bedroom. "The noise was a pain in the butt for the whole family," he says, adding that finding a workflow was a challenge. "I had a lot of equipment crammed into that little room, but it felt like nothing was ever accessible."

Set behind the couple’s Silver Lake home, the two-story structure has a crisp white board–and–batten exterior. 

Ready for a change, the couple called on local architect John Colter to make use of their hilly backyard. Jeana’s requests for her side of the ADU were relatively straightforward: tall interiors, a changing area, and natural light for photography. The resulting 500-square-foot space, located on the lower level of the unit’s 1,483-square-foot plan, is simple but capacious, with 11-foot-7-inch-high ceilings and sliding glass doors that Jeana can open to host indoor/outdoor events.

Because of the property’s incline, Jeana’s design space on the lower level is partly subterranean but still opens to the outdoors via large glass sliders. 

For his recording studio—a main room and a smaller drum room on the second level—Brad had George Augspurger, an acoustical engineer vaunted for his work at iconic Hollywood studio Sunset Sound, advise on the technical details of construction needed for soundproofing and the best possible acoustics. Colter helped Brad get his equipment and instruments organized with modular shelving, pegboards, and drawers, with hidden wiring troughs and plentiful inputs to keep things plugged into his computer.

In Brad’s music studio, slanted hemlock ceilings enhance the acoustics, which were overseen by George Augspurger of Hollywood’s Sunset Sound fame. The floor is a 12-inch-thick floating concrete slab. A custom work table, designed by Colter and fabricated by Stephan Roggenbuck of Conscious Wood Work and David Wade, sits across from a Steinway grand. The amount of light in the studio is intentionally unorthodox. "I wanted to see the day change and feel a connection to the outside world," says Brad.

Colter worked with Brad to devise a system of shelving that would keep everything in the studio organized and at hand. And then he had some fun—with an interior window that looks through to the staircase and another in the floor that helps bring light to the lower level. 

Pancho, the couple’s labradoodle, is clearly not afraid of heights. 

Against Augspurger’s recommendations, they outfitted both spaces with windows and skylights. "Big reflective surfaces aren’t ideal," Brad says, noting that recording studios are typically dark and closed off. "But good light and a connection to the outside world were more important to me than pristine acoustics."

The ADU’s bathroom, which doubles as an echo chamber for Brad’s recordings, is covered in American Universal Corp. tile, which was also used for the pool.  

"The kitchen and the hallway are so spatially beautiful. Sometimes I just lie here and look up. It’s great for the creative process."

—Brad Breeck, resident

Finished with blond woods and white walls and furnished with vintage rugs and plush lounge chairs, the ADU’s interiors match the couple’s house, which Colter also designed. And with its kitchen and bath, both requirements of any ADU in L.A., it easily becomes a pool house on the weekends, when the family often goes for a swim. More than anything, the addition has done wonders for their daily rhythm. "I can spend hours in the studio and then walk into my house and see my family," Brad says. Adds Jeana, "I’m usually in the studio while my son is in school, and then when he comes back, I can grab a few of my things and go home."

Illustration by Tim Lohnes

Project Credits:

Architecture: Colter & Co. 

Structural Engineering: Reiss Brown Ekmekji

Landscape Design: Anigo Garden Design

Sound Engineering: George Augspurger

Cabinetry and Furniture Fabrication: Stephan Roggenbuck

Furniture Fabrication: David Wade

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