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Schonbrun Residence by Richard Aldriedge


Schonbrun residence

This small, two-story, one bedroom house sits quietly out of sight behind a two story apartment building on a narrow residential street in Venice, California.

Facing the back of the apartment building, the front facade is playfully fragmented into distinct parts making a comfortable scale for this close area. A redwood deck, with random boards stained pearly gray, stretches between the house and the apartment and provides additional space for work and relaxation. From the second story bedroom, French doors look down on this area, giving the deck a curious stage-like quality. Higher still, a portion of the roof deck juts out to dramatic effect.


Once inside the recessed corner doorway, the intimately scaled entry gradually opens to a spacious living room. At one end of the living room, an angled wall of doors and windows gives a generous view of the deck. From a corner of the living room, three steps lead up to the kitchen/breakfast area which overlooks the living room and the deck beyond. A long horizontal window frames a wide view in the opposite direction, and allows morning and afternoon light to reach deep into the interior.


The second floor bedroom is reached by a series of steps, the final steps gently illuminated by a large translucent skylight high above. Exposed wood ceiling joists and beams add warmth. Corner windows and French doors provide the bedroom with views, light, and ventilation. A few steps up from the bedroom is a small study with its own view of the deck below. Beyond the study, winding interior steps continue an easy romp to the roof deck with its big view of the surrounding neighborhood.


Grafted to the back façade, the angled, gable-roofed volume of the breakfast area contrast with the flat backdrop of the main façade. This cantilevered volume hovers a few feet above the ground and lends a mood of levity to this elevation. Clad in green lap-siding, this gabled fragment stirs a memory of earlier Venice homes. A skylight, looking like an askew brick chimney, sits jauntily atop the gabled volume and lights the breakfast area below. A small wood deck, with plenty of morning sun, serves as a back porch entry and a place for morning coffee.


The clients’ main desire was for a new two story house with light, open, airy rooms to replace a smaller 1918 one story house in desperate need of repair. The approach was to group the kitchen, baths and stairs into one compact group to allow for a large living room and bedroom. The house was restricted to one bedroom.