Indie musician Drew Straus, who performs under the name Onsen, will be the first to tell you that his early records were "brooding and moody." But if his debut album, filled with electronic vibrations and atmospheric percussion, makes you want to pull down the shades and sink into bed, his latest release, Keeper, which came out last year, strikes a different chord. Its dreamy synth-pop beats beg you to throw open the windows and dance in the sunlight.
It’s an apt analogy, as Drew’s new home set the stage for a key change. "The experience of being here, compared to anywhere else I’ve lived, is incredibly soothing," says Drew. And as a result, he says, his work is "distinctly sunnier."
Drew purchased the property, located in the Silver Lake neighborhood of Los Angeles, in the spring of 2019 and embarked on a complete reimagining with the help of L.A. design firm Laun Studio.
In an area rife with homes by notable names like Neutra and Lautner, this house "didn’t have a specific slant," says Drew. It was built in the 1930s and hadn’t been touched in decades, so it offered a blessedly blank slate. "It was liberating in a way," says Rachel Bullock, a founding partner of Laun, who met Drew through mutual friends.
The home is nestled into a hillside, and its roofline sits nearly at street level. A delightful entry sequence leads from a sunken courtyard to the living/dining area, where new banks of windows frame city and mountain views. Laun combined the common spaces on this floor, built out a music studio and an office below, and expanded the primary suite and a lower-level accessory dwelling unit, bringing the total square footage to 1,861.
"Moving into this house has coincided with a period of transition."
—Drew Straus, resident
Drew’s main goal was to create a respite from the intensity of the city, and he looked to Japanese spas and a certain modernist utopia in Northern California for inspiration. "We came back to Sea Ranch again and again," says Bullock. "Drew had a real interest in incorporating craft and a lot of natural materials."
The interior is wrapped in warm woods, but to keep it from feeling too stiff, Drew wove in playful touches throughout. He found a front door with a half-moon window on eBay and painted it a high-gloss cobalt blue. The primary bath features vintage, butter-yellow Spinardi di Milano hardware, and the artist Sara Bright splashed swooping brushstrokes across the shower tiles.
In the downstairs studio, the most arresting feature is the wall of windows. "Generally, music studios are windowless nightmares," says Drew. "Having natural light has affected the way I make music—and the kind of music I make.
"I don’t have the same kind of ‘emotional crisis’ energy that I was putting into my earlier work," he adds. "This space has given me a sense of freedom and a realization that I can create work that is joyful and light."
Architecture: Laun Studio
Construction: Via Veneto Construction
Structural Engineering: Sean Seung S. Kim
Cabinetry Design: Laun Studio and Drew Straus
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