A Designer’s $210K Prefab ADU Captures the Allure of California Living

A Designer’s $210K Prefab ADU Captures the Allure of California Living

By Duncan Nielsen
Oni Lazarus of AO Studio commissions Cover to add a svelte prefab rental unit to the backyard of her Los Angeles home.

"It’s the hospitality aspect that I love so much in this business," says Oni Lazarus, who spends her days designing interiors for lifestyle hotels. She works from her home office in the Highland Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, and thanks to a new ADU from Cover, she and her partner Didi, a physical therapist and travel enthusiast, can create their very own rental experience.

When looking to add an ADU to their backyard in Highland Park, Oni Lazarus and her partner Didi went with Cover’s turnkey offering. The Los Angeles–based prefab builders managed every step, giving the couple an idyllic, indoor/outdoor rental unit that capitalizes on sunny Southern California weather. 

Oni and Didi decided to go prefab because they sought a smooth, turnkey process—and Cover managed each phase of the project, taking on everything from permitting to construction. An all-steel structure frames the panelized building system, defining a function-forward dwelling with features like hydronic heating and cooling and custom-milled storage.

Perhaps what was more attractive, though, was that the company’s designs come in neutral and classic finishes, providing a shortcut for Oni. "To be quite honest, it was a nice relief not to be responsible for selecting the materials," she says. Gray fiber cement panels comprise the exterior of the Highland Park ADU, which matches the light-gray stucco of the couple’s existing home. 

With generous floor-to-ceiling windows, the interiors get plenty of all-day light. As a designer of lifestyle hotel interiors, Oni is an expert at balancing comfort with function, as reflected in the living and dining areas. 

Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances are seamlessly integrated into the kitchen. 

A kitchen island with bar seating provides indoor space for dining; custom-milled cabinets and drawers in the kitchen add ample storage. 

Another benefit to Cover’s construction methods—especially for a hospitality designer like Oni, whose work consists of balancing comfort with function—is that features can be seamlessly integrated with any layout. Sub-Zero and Wolf appliances complete the kitchen, and outlets are installed flush and positioned strategically near media devices and auxiliary lighting to minimize cable clutter. Oni also had the wall in the living area built especially sturdy, in case they decide to install a more permanent wall-mounted credenza.

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With the 660-square-foot home in place, Oni and her design partner Andrew Lucich chose decor and furnishings that imbue the two-bedroom with warmth, and a personal touch. "The art in the living room is by a Malaysian artist I admire from home," says Oni. "Other accessories are from our travels—you’ll find woven baskets and pottery that we picked up on our RV trip to Moab, Utah, or a throw that we purchased in a village in Myanmar." 

In the main bedroom, seamless drawers and cabinets hide a wardrobe. The all-white interiors made decorating a snap for Oni.

A second bedroom doubles as an office, should a renter prefer to use it that way. Oni balances earthen and elegant decor elements, emphasizing a small, personal collection throughout the ADU.

In the bathroom, glass divides the shower area and toilet for an open feel. The low-flow shower head by Nebia cuts water use by 65% compared to a traditional fixture.

The personal-yet-subtle design moments give prospective renters a space that’s homey. But a flexible space, views over L.A.’s Highland Park neighborhood, and floor-to-ceiling windows that open to an accoya wraparound deck are perhaps the real draw. "Celebrating California indoor/outdoor living is key," Oni says. "We splurged on that—it was the best thing we did."

The east-facing deck extends from the kitchen and living area to provide ample space for morning coffee and sunshine—or a shady place to grill, dine al fresco, or relax at the end of a long day. "To us, it’s a lifestyle that we’re advocating," Oni says. "It’s not just a place to rent."

The interiors feature accoya flooring, which extends outside to a wraparound deck. The home faces east to soak up morning sunlight.

"Celebrating California indoor/outdoor living is key," Oni says of her and Didi’s new rental unit. "We splurged on that—it was the best thing we did." 

MINNA Stripes Basket Small
The Small Stripes Basket are made using a unique hybrid weaving crochet technique. The baskets are flexible, yet durable and ready for whatever you throw at (or in) them.
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