Steel and Brass Cover Nearly Every Surface of this Industrial L.A. Kitchen
Located in the fashionable Warehouse District of downtown Los Angeles, the Toy Factory Lofts comprise 119 reimagined live/work spaces, in a historic 1924 building with the word "Toy" emblazoned across the facade. A rooftop swimming pool offers sweeping views of downtown and the L.A. River, and, downstairs, the security guard keeps watch from a shipping container embedded in the lobby, with its exposed pipes and concrete floors.
This raw detailing carries through to Richard Michaelson’s 1,400-square-foot loft, redesigned by his sister-in-law, Beverly Hills–based designer Andrea Michaelson. "Every surface except the exposed ceiling was gutted and replaced," says Andrea, about the apartment, which was dated and overwhelmed by dark wood floors, brightly colored accent walls, and, smack-dab in the center, a burgundy kitchen island. "It was so melamine, it had to go," Andrea says with a laugh.
Richard, an entrepreneur and gastronome who lives in Riverside but spends weekends ("or Dodgers season," he says) at the loft, gave Andrea carte blanche with the design. "Entrusting this to Andrea was very easy because I have no talent in regards to design," he says. "I had no qualms. I basically gave her the keys, went to Riverside, and came back and it was finished."
Despite some behind-the-scenes construction bumps, such as needing to retool the plumbing, Andrea kept the project under the $200,000 budget and on a tight schedule, finishing in just eight months. The kitchen became the core element of the aesthetic reboot, which included removing the wood floor in favor of the original concrete, adding LED lighting to brighten the dark space, and cladding one of the room’s main walls in sheets of steel edged in brass. Flanking the kitchen are translucent bifold doors that conceal storage; the kitchen itself gained freestanding steel cabinets, purchased on closeout from Fagor. Andrea replaced the island with an antique farm table she found locally.
Surrounding the table are metal-and-teak side chairs from Henry Hall Designs and low concrete benches from CB2 that slide out easily for use in a pinch. She splurged on a slab of Calacatta Paonazzo marble for the countertops, using the remnants for the bathroom and a cube table.
Having recently settled in, Richard has big plans for the kitchen, including hosting friends at the rustic table for his famous hors d’oeuvres: caviar-stuffed squid, uni on miso-marinated cucumber, and fresh oysters flown in from Seattle. "I have plenty of space to work," he says. "I’m still surprised at how beautiful it turned out."
Erika Heet has been working in publishing for more than 20 years, including years spent as a senior editor at Architectural Digest and Robb Report. She has written for Architectural Digest, Robb Report, Interiors, Bon Appétit, Sierra Magazine, and The Berkeley Fiction Review. She recently wrote the foreword to New Tropical Classics: Hawaiian Homes by Shay Zak. She lives in a Topanga cabin with her artist husband and two children.