Design, Bitches creates modern bungalow in Venice Beach

Architecture studio Design, Bitches has completed a southern California home that takes cues from the traditional beach cottage and is meant to be “not too precious”.

The B+B House is located in Venice Beach, a coastal town known for its mix of century-old bungalows and experimental contemporary architecture.

Gabled cottage-style house in Venice Beach with slatted gate around it
Design, Bitches positioned the project on a plot in Venice Beach

“This specific site is nestled on the edge of the famous ‘walk streets’ of Venice, where small lots are tightly woven together as the city stretches to the Pacific Ocean,” said Catherine Johnson, cofounder of LA studio Design, Bitches.

Built for creative clients, the house replaces a 1914 dwelling that had fallen into disrepair. A key design goal was to ensure the new home aligned with the character of the original house and the area’s bungalows.

Guest house with terrace on top
The studio designed a main dwelling and a guesthouse with a terrace

For a slender lot sandwiched between houses, the architects conceived a main dwelling and detached guesthouse in the rear.

A small yard serves as a “dynamic connection” between the two buildings, while also providing views of the sky and surrounding palm trees.

Timber ceiling and flooring within gabled dwelling by Design, Bitches
A gabled roof tops the main volume

Rising two levels, the main dwelling is roughly rectangular in plan and is topped with a gabled, standing-seam-metal roof. Inserted into the upper portion is a shoebox-shaped bar that reaches toward the guest house.

The two-storey guest house has a square plan. The upper level is carved away to form an outdoor terrace.

Living room with gabled roof and large geometric chimney in the centre
A living room features in the main house

“By maintaining the integrity and proportion of the traditional Venice Beach bungalow and adding a bar slide through it, the B+B house makes an argument for the resilience of archetypes – playing out juxtaposition in a small house that speaks to both modernist volumes and ways of life,” the studio said.

Both buildings are clad in raked stucco and non-oiled, thermally modified ash that will turn gray over time. The guest house also features board-formed concrete.

Thin, glazed brick on the floor of a kitchen within gabled volume
Design, Bitches also added a kitchen to this volume

Interior layouts are meant to be flexible per the family’s lifestyle.

“The house was built for a small, creative family that works in various ways and has a constant flux of extended family and friends that flows in and out of town on a regular basis,” the studio said.

Tile-clad bathroom in gabled dwelling by Design, Bitches
A tile-clad bathroom is included in this dwelling

In the main house, the ground level encompasses a living room, dining area, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom.

The upper level holds the primary bedroom and bathroom, along with a loft-style room that has openings to both the bedroom and living room below. The loft can be used as a music or sleeping area.

Furniture within guest house by Design, Bitches with large rectilinear windows
The guest house contains a bedroom

“The flexible loft bridges the boundaries between gathering and retreat,” the team said.

“Interior windows were punched through upstairs volumes so both cross breezes and conversations continue and flow from upstairs down to the main living areas,” it added.

Chaise longue next to timber-clad window frames in Venice Beach cottage-style house
Finishes and decor are meant to feel livable

The guest house contains a flexible, ground-level space that serves as a studio, recreation space and garage. Upstairs is a bedroom and studio as well as a small bathroom.

Finishes and decor are meant to feel livable.

Hemlock-clad room within gabled main dwelling of B+B House
Design, Bitches used vertical-grain hemlock for walls and ceilings

“The house feels instantly comfortable, welcoming to all and not too precious to use,” the studio said.

To add warmth, the team used vertical-grain hemlock for walls and ceilings.

Kitchen with turquoise tiles for flooring
Turquoise tiles were used in the communal areas

For the floors in the communal area, Johnson and her team specified a thin, glazed brick in a turquoise shade that evokes the tiles found in the São Paulo home of Brazilian architect Lina Bo Bardi.

The same tile, but in matte black, was used for the fireplace cladding. Hanging lighting fixtures in both the kitchen and living area are by the Spanish company Marset.

The kitchen cabinetry is made of black oak and dark blue laminate. Countertops are made of a composite product called PaperStone.

To help minimize energy consumption, the team installed skylights, solar hot water and radiant floors.

Venice Beach bungalow with timber facade by Design, Bitches
Both buildings are clad in ash and stucco

Elements at all levels – from massing to interior details – were carefully thought out while designing the home.

“Proportion and scale were carefully considered, from larger formal intersections down to the varying details and directionality of material texture, pattern and rhythms,” Johnson said.

Other projects by Design, Bitches include a Nashville restaurant that evokes “old-school Miami” and an eclectic eatery and video arcade in Los Angeles that takes cues from Postmodernism and film noir.

The photography is by Yoshihiro Makino.

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