I am often asked about homes that stand out for me as unique. One is located in North Hollywood, California. My intention was to photograph the amazing garage conversion in the rear of the property. However, stepping into the main home introduced me to the vivid creativity of the couple who lived there. He was an accomplished professional guitarist and singer who because of an inherited disability, had lost his hearing and ability to perform. He compensated for the dimension he was lost with visual intensity.
Driving by, the home blends with the other 1923 Spanish Revival cottages on the quiet, friendly street.
The small three-bedroom home worked for the family of four, but it had little space for the creative couple to spread out projects and artwork, find some private time, and to host parties.
Whether at the building material recyclery, yard sales, thrift stores, or friends, the couple had a knack for finding beautiful objects and weaving them together into a whole.
The unused redwood, stucco and dirt-floored rear garage had doors that were too small for modern cars. Seeing potential, a trip to the California coastal missions inspired them in the design: the new façade’s curving parapet, bell, statuary alcoves, and courtyards. The redwood doors were repurposed into wainscotting.
They relied upon discards, surplus, and used materials, including large panes of office glass and paned glass French doors. The cost of the conversion was limited to $10,000, primarily for plumbing and electrical supplies. They did all the work themselves.
The polished granite mandala was pieced together from cast-off pieces of granite. The space behind is a quiet room for meditating, reading and reflecting. The larger room is flexible for different uses, including parties, where the double doors open to connect it with the patio space.
The patio space melds the main home and new garage space together. The hot tub area was finished with a look of a Vietnamese river hut.
The side lots by garages are often the most neglected areas of the landscape. Here it was reclaimed with a spiked gate, reused pavers, and accents that follow the Asian theme set by the hot tub area.
I have a positive note to end on. About five years after we met this delightful couple and made the photos, she called and reported that a new advancement in cochlear surgery had been tried and was successful in restoring some of her husband’s hearing. He could again hear and play music.