A couple approaching semi-retirement reached out to Annie Barrett (of Aanda) and Hye-Young Chung (of HYCArch) to conceptualise the architecture and interior of their Spanish-style house in Los Angeles. The outcome is a unique contemporary home, a result of a collaborative process between the architects and the homeowners. Known as the Centered Home, the house is a single storey, 2,200-square-feet rectangular construction. The home features a central cube, which is used for private activities. This central cube is surrounded by an outer envelope that opens into a picturesque backyard with a pool.
The design of the Centered Home is informed by the clients’ desire to approach their future expansively, intentionally, and with curiosity. The couple wanted the home’s interiors to be designed based on their exact needs and preferences. “The project was commissioned in anticipation of the couple’s planned semi-retirement, and they approached the design process less as a means towards an end and more as an opportunity to deeply consider how their constructed environment would participate in shaping ‘phase two’ of their life,” mentions Hye-Young Chung.
From the street, the Centered Home seems like a conventional, modern home with a front garden with San Pedro cacti. The rectangular home is clad in a wood rain screen that was charred using Shou Sugi Ban, a Japanese technique. The clients wanted spaces in the home that they could enjoy in solitude as well as with each other and friends and family. Keeping this in mind, the architects came up with a distinctive cube concept.
In the Centered Home, private activities like bathing, sleeping, meditation and stretching take place within the central cube, while communal activities such as cooking, watching movies with friends, and taking on creative work projects happen between the cube and the exterior shell. “Informed by a balance of meditative solitude and exuberant communal living, the home is designed as a series of nested conditions organised concentrically. An interior ‘cube’, within a mediating shell of space for communal activities, within the perimeter of landscape. The most private programs are at the core, and the most public are oriented in relationship to the landscape and the city beyond. While inside the house, one is either within the cube, or living between it, and the visually porous exterior envelope of the building, creating direct connections to nature and amplifying the sense of the cube as a volume within a volume—or, a home within a house,” mentions Annie Barrett.
Moreover, while the clients wanted a highly functional home, they also wanted it to have a minimal design aesthetic. Thus, the architects designed smart storage solutions throughout the house. “Carefully detailed millwork on the face of the cube facilitates a smooth transition between these zones. One zone conceals panel-ready appliances and makes room for a skylight that pulls light down to the kitchen counter. The other zone conceals storage designed to hold everything from puzzles to craft supplies—objects supporting family pastimes that unfold in the spacious, light-flooded living room,” adds Chung.
The central cube comprises the master bedroom that features a white oak vaulted ceiling whose skylight lets in plenty of sunlight. This bedroom houses minimal furnishings in muted hues, and a wall with custom CNC-milled panels and soft grooves that create a unique play of light and shadows. This wall houses the couple’s wardrobe that has been designed with a lot of attention to detail. “Informed by an interest in unexpected details, this millwork is sized to fit the couple’s wardrobe with precision. For instance, individual shoes were measured to ensure ample and accurate spacing. We were intent on enhancing the lived experience of the owner and wanted to ensure we were meeting all their needs,” adds Chung.
Furthermore, the central cube includes a room for stretching and meditation as well. This room features open floor space for meditation and yoga, a custom ladder and peg system for stretching, and concealed storage for yoga equipment. The central cube also houses a master bathroom with a spacious sauna.
Moving outwards, on one of the external edges of the central cube is the open kitchen, which features a black island and white millwork cabinets hiding the kitchen appliances. The kitchen’s highlights are its angular skylight and the custom designed millwork cabinets that help create a minimal look. The kitchen leads to the dining and living area in an open layout. The kitchen and living area feature the same Scandinavian design aesthetics as the rest of the home. Also, the space is warm and welcoming with bright artworks and large floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the front garden.
“The kitchen features humorous, playful customisations like a hidden, kick-activated step-stool below the sink and a custom kitty-litter drawer integrated into the millwork. Adjacent, the living/dining room is activated by a custom skylight developed to pull the ceiling skyward and create faceted geometries that reflect south-western light through the space. The unexpected and rigorously attuned geometry of the skylight itself and the shaped living room ceiling below produces a fluctuating reading of the room that shifts radically when viewed from north to south as one passes across the space,” adds Barrett.
Walkways leading to the back of the house also feature expansive windows. At the rear of the home are two separate offices overlooking the backyard and pool. The offices are practical spaces offering unobstructed views of the beautiful landscape outside. The backyard and pool have also been designed according to specific preferences of the clients. The Centered Home is a result of an intensive design process, which ensured every detail of the project had been extensively discussed. “The evidence of the care and thought that went into the house was born of endless conversations, sketches and ideas amongst everyone in the project. The vision was built on a foundation of joyful collaboration, and it shows in every detail of the house—down to the felt scribe around the outlets,” concludes Chung.
The coronavirus pandemic has made people realise that homes of the future need to be multi-functioning spaces that offer quietude as well. While the Centered Home features a unique interior design that exhibits this sentiment, whether homes of the future will look like this or not, remains to be seen.
Name: Centered Home
Location: Los Angeles, California
Design architect and interiors: Aanda (Annie Barrett, principal architect; Alex Collier, project manager)
Architect of record: Hye-Young Chung Architecture or HYCArch (Hye-Young Chung, principal architect; Meaghan Pohl, project manager)
Structural Design: Ibarra (Marco Ibarra)
Lighting: Theia Lighting (Kathryn Toth)
Landscape: Hocker Design (David Hocker)