Historic West Hollywood Bungalow: Small Footprint, Big Personality!

When Seth Resnik decided to purchase a crumbling 1918 Craftsman bungalow in West Hollywood, the task of remodeling seemed daunting.  Back then he says he was “insane enough to believe that it would be fun and rewarding to revive the house.” Drawn to the house’s beautiful raw Douglas fir post-and-beams sticking out amidst holes in the roof, broken windows with old layers of bizarre paint colors, Resnik - a writer, lifelong traveler, and lover of the outdoors - saw something special in the unique character of the house.  “[It] sat across the street from Plummer Park, a rare block of open space in the middle of West Hollywood,” he explains.  “Having a bungalow at the edge of this pocket nirvana clinched it.”

In the beginning, Resnik undertook a lot of the basic structural repairs like repainting and patching holes in the roof himself. However over time, the overwhelming potential he saw in the space made the necessity of a remodel clear: “[It] got to a point where the house looked okay, but needed someone to integrate who I was with what the house could be. I had all these inchoate ideas, but did not know how to use them to bring out the best in the house.” With the house being historic and also less than 1000 square feet, Resnik had a lot of ideas for his first home and a vast collection of objects and photos from his travels. “I was hoping,” he muses, “that somehow I could make a home that had enough of my past to feel safe, enough of my present to feel comfortable, and enough of my dreams to be inspiring.” 

That’s how Seth knew he needed interior designer Sarah Barnard to help translate his vision into a space that was both functional and a reflection of his personality. Since she not only listened but also challenged him, Seth knew Sarah was the perfect fit: “She didn’t mirror my ideas back to me, she brought her own strong aesthetic to the table. I could see that she was going to challenge me, and I think conflict is as important as collaboration in an artistic process.” 

It is evident in her design how Sarah thinks deeply about the client’s personality, especially in the case of Seth’s house: “She’s always looking for harmonious contrasts, both in materials and design, and the surprising connection between things on a deeper level.” Resnik’s love of nature is highlighted by the use of eco-friendly and natural materials, such as the recycled beer bottle kitchen counter top, and the sun tubes and pebble rocks in both showers that make him “feel like [he’s] showering outdoors.”

The final design of the house is filled with surprises for Seth, such as the wall cut-out between the kitchen and the dining room, uniting the front and back of the house. Besides the master bathroom with pebble flooring and sun-tubes, Seth loves the fireplace with its collection of books, art, and objects from his years of travel.

Some of the greatest details in the house were left abandoned by the previous owner, and in shameful conditions when Seth bought the house: “The cabinet was built with the house, and took about 90 hours to strip, sand, and stain.” His handiwork is evident in the beautifully refinished cabinet, now displaying personal objects from around the world such as a marionette from Burma, chess sets from Russia, and statues from Jamaica.

Of all the amazing stories surrounding this West Hollywood bungalow, perhaps the perfect ending was gaining a new companion: Resnik’s cat, Lulu “adopted him” almost a year to the day after his dog died. “Max was with me when I bought the house, and suffered through the renovations and mess - but he didn’t get to see it in its finished state. Then just before the final renovations are done, in waltzes Lulu - the same black coat with white fringe as Max…” The airy Craftsman is ideal for Lulu who loves to sit on the numerous windowsills and keep guard against squirrels, birds and other critters.

One great benefit of his new house that he completely attributes to Sarah is space: “The best thing she did was recognize what was important [and] create space around that - which is really what I wanted in the end. I love my stuff, but I need space. She saw that before I did.”

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SARAH BARNARD is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), is certified by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), and is recognized by the International Institute for Bau-Biologie & Ecology as a Building Biology Practitioner (BBP) and by the United States Green Building Council as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Accredited Professional (LEED AP). She has served on the Santa Monica Conservancy’s board of directors and specializes in green interior design and historic preservation.

 

Sarah Barnard Design undertakes residential interior design projects, commercial spaces and even single rooms. She can help you with space planning, color counseling, kitchen and bath remodeling, historic preservation, and all aspects of green design and healthy living: organic, non-toxic, sustainable and fair trade materials, energy and resource conservation, air and water purification, natural furnishings and fabrics and much more!

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