Beauty is found in the small details that make up a home’s design–whether your style is modern, contemporary, or more traditional. My firm has worked on various home styles over the years doing both completely new builds and historic restorations. Over this time, we’ve also done some smaller additions or small remodeling jobs as we did when renovating an artists studio in a home in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles.

The studio is for a sculptor, so soft natural northern light was important. Also, having a retreat to create her work as well as a calming outdoor area was essential. We took the existing structure down to the studs, we re-arranged the floor plan, added that much needed natural light by adding in new windows. We also focused on organization and created custom cabinetry to be used for storage and the work space for the resident artist. To help the new space flow seamlessly into the backyard we added stairs to the pool deck. We were conscientious of the existing brickwork in the backyard and wanted to make sure the new stairs fit well with the current aesthetic. We wanted the new structure to seem like a continuation of the existing brick planter walls. The new wall slips below and supports the new wood deck and the steps branch off of the wall. We found matching reclaimed brick to use so that it all blended seamlessly.

Although stairs are a functional element, I knew that they could also become a focal point of the design. A place to highlight the craftsmanship our firm is known for and a place to showcase the work of several trades (brick, framing, electrical). I’ve always enjoyed sketching and focusing on the details that make a design truly unique and special for my clients. These stairs were designed to be curved and with electrical wiring added at the risers so that in the evening, they could be lite up. The curve was an important element and as I watched it be built up layer by layer, I knew we’d made the right decision to design it this way. Constructing a compound curve can be difficult. In order to get this perfect, we mapped out a 1 inch by 1 inch grid on the ground and traced the points we generated on the computer.

Artist Studio Before and After

Before brick stairs were added
After brick stairs were added

Quality design is worth the time it takes to consider all of the details of how the various pieces will fit together. Fortunately, I’ve been on the jobsite as a design-build architect and know what works and what doesn’t work. I’m always thinking about these elements and drawing from this knowledge base. Construction quality is especially key for a small project like this, because every detail will be examined in the final product… even in the small details like a brick stair case.

By working with an architect-led design-build firm, our clients have the benefit of working with professional who can not only design beautiful structures and add inspired design touches to something as simple as a staircase, but in the practical sense we have the direct relationships with the trades to get them built.