A Venice Beach Granny Suite Exudes Serious West Coast Cool

A simple garage renovation becomes so much more at the hands of architecture firm Bau10.

Here’s a phrase you don’t hear much: "What a beautiful garage."

And yet, it’s what anyone would say if they were to pass by this striking slat-and-glass structure in Venice, California. Designed by architect Martin Zünkeler, the two-story building sits behind a white stucco California bungalow. The dwelling is home to Andreas, Brita, and their two kids, and it’s a reminder that any renovation—no matter how functional—is an opportunity for creativity.

Lined up vertically, the thin slats of acoya wood on the building’s exterior have the look of a traditional bamboo mat.

When the family approached Zünkeler, principal of L.A. design firm Bau10, to help them spruce up their dilapidated detached garage, he encouraged them to think bigger. With recent changes to city building ordinances, there was an opportunity here to add on a granny suite. Why not go for it? 

The main house is a white stucco block—really, it couldn’t be more different from this modernist box. "Well, they both have flat roofs," laughs Zünkeler.

Andreas collaborated deeply with the architect to develop the resulting two-story, 1,120-square-foot unit, which is "much more than a garage," says Zünkeler. "It’s an extension of the yard."

"The idea was to think a little like Japan. They’re doing the most amazing things in small spots," says Zünkeler.

The honed marble countertop is a rich charcoal shade, with ultra-fine white veins. Simple black IKEA kitchen cabinets offer ample storage options for the tiny space.

Glass doors surround the ground floor, creating a seamless visual flow between courtyard and parking space. For even more room to play, the family can move their camper van out of the way to use the light and airy open room as a studio space.

White oak flooring keeps the open-concept space feeling light and bright.

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In the bathroom, a skylight above the shower lets the light pour in.

The top floor is essentially a well-appointed studio apartment. The kitchen is integrated right into the railing, with a view of the staircase over the long Armani marble countertop (a built-in lip prevents objects from falling over the edge).

At the end of the L-shaped prep area and cooktop, there’s a small nook that offers a "special moment," Zünkeler says: a cozy workspace with a view. 

A light detail makes the whole rear facade glow at night.

The 1,120-square-foot structure is compact enough that it doesn’t encroach on the kids’ play area.

The facade is built from vertical slats of acoya wood, which mimics the look of a bamboo screen. "It’s treated with a super-strong vinegar," explains Zünkeler. "What it looked like day one, it looks the same after a year and a half." Wonderful news for those who want to admire this surprising moment of functional beauty for years to come.

There’s the option to rent out the top floor, but it also makes a great place for family visiting from Europe to stay.

Related Reading:

In True California Style, This Venice Beach Home Hovers Above a Pool 

Before & After: A Washed-Up Venice Beach Shack Catches a Second Wave

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Bau10 Architecture / @bau10.architecture

Builder/General Contractor: Les Constructions Du Lys Structural Engineer, Tuscher Engineering Group


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