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Live/Work Spaces in LA

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  • Richard Risemberg
    http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-shops22jul22,1,7553996.story?coll=la-home-home ... -- Richard Risemberg http://www.living-room.org
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 21, 2004
      http://www.latimes.com/features/home/la-hm-shops22jul22,1,7553996.story?coll=la-home-home
      > INNER LIFE
      > That's a great commute
      > In a city where work and home are as separate as church and state, a new breed of business owners divides personal and professional life with as little as a door or a staircase.
      > By Alexandria Abramian-Mott
      > Special to The Times
      >
      > July 22, 2004
      >
      > Every night Patrick Guilfoyle crosses his apartment's polished concrete floors, descends the distressed metal staircase, goes through the courtyard and walks past 24 dog rooms with Dutch doors. "I look in on the dogs every night the way a homeowner would make sure the door was locked or turn out the lights," says Guilfoyle, owner of Double Dog Dare Ya, a cage-free kennel, day-care and groomers where dogs drink water from IKEA champagne buckets and frolic in a temperature-controlled pool by day, then sleep to low-volume classical Muzak in private rooms at night.
      >
      > Four years ago Guilfoyle decided to create the ultimate live/work location in an industrial section of Burbank. He hired architect Tracy Stone to design a glass, steel and concrete compound where dogs and humans could coexist in a environment that looks more day spa than kennel.
      >
      > Downstairs, a staff of eight oversees up to 35 boarders. Upstairs, Guilfoyle and his wife, Pippi, share an airy, open-plan two-bedroom that serves as their private living quarters and as a round-the-clock watchtower with picture windows and web cameras trained below. "Sometimes this feels like a sanctuary, sometimes it doesn't," Guilfoyle says. "The responsibility of taking care of people's pets is so huge there's never really a time when you can truly forget."
      >
      > Guilfoyle is a new breed of Los Angeles business owner with a finely tuned ability for mixing business and pleasure, dividing personal and professional lives with no more than a door, a staircase or a short pathway. Like others who live where they work, Guilfoyle swapped a lawn and square footage — as well as the notion of a suburban idyll and the drive time to get there — for a rare slice of mixed-use Southern California living.
      >
      > But the European script for living above the shop has received a full rewrite in L.A. Forget about hanging the "closed" sign on the front door and taking a two-hour siesta. Here, the priority isn't that you're always close to home; it's that you're never far from work. As for privacy? Time is the ultimate commodity.
      >
      > Three flagstones are all that separate Kevin Jacobs' private and professional lives. On one side of his narrow patch of patio is a 1920s Venice Beach bungalow; on the other is Jacobs Van Dyke, his Abbot Kinney Boulevard art and furniture gallery. After moving to Los Angeles from New York a year and a half ago, Jacobs fulfilled his primary housing requirement: to walk to work.
      >
      > In a Manhattan-sized, 650 square feet of living space, he has created his version of sophisticated bohemian beach chic. An unused surfboard hangs from the rafters above his living room/kitchen, where a camouflage fabric-upholstered Italian-made futon and a periwinkle patio table rest on bamboo floors. Color-coded beach towels hang from hooks, and flip-flops line the doorway. It may look like year-round summer vacation, but Jacobs says it's more like an eternal work week. Most days begin before the alarm clock goes off when early morning walkers peer in and comment on an abstract Expressionist painting or a brushed steel chair that looks as much like sculpture as furniture. "I can hear them from my bed," Jacobs says.
      >
      > Occasionally workdays extend well past closing time. Local architects and actors looking for an interior designer have stopped Jacobs when he returned from dinner at nearby Joe's or Axe. "With this setup, there's nothing to keep me from pushing a 9 a.m. to 12 a.m. schedule," says Jacobs, whose private and professional lives are fused with a single phone line, so that even when he hangs the "closed" sign at 5 p.m., he's still on-call.
      >
      > A cellphone, pager, intercom and doorbell are used to summon Hani Istwani. The 25-year-old USC business school grad lives in a long, narrow two-bedroom Spanish stucco that adjoins Jackson Market, Culver City's only business on an all-residential street. Two years ago Istwani's brother bought the place, along with its companion residence, determined to breathe new life into the 76-year-old neighborhood market and deli that now functions as a cheerfully landscaped resource for morning coffee, midday sandwiches and evening beer runs.
      >
      > Istwani, who helps manage the store for his brother, is always on call. "I usually go to the market 20 times a day," says Istwani, who bounces between taking deli orders for Sony execs and developing his own web business on his living room laptop. "The people who work at the market intercom me if there's a rush, or they'll page me. They even send customers over to my front door to get me." An 8 p.m. closing time is early enough to permit nights out with friends, but Istwani's work doesn't always end with the turn of the sign, either. "Almost all the neighbors now know me," he says. "If I know someone really well and they come over asking for eggs, sometimes I'll let them in the store after hours."
      >
      > David Jones is stricter about leaving his work behind. Every evening around 6, he closes his florist shop on Robertson Boulevard, gets in a private leopard-print-upholstered elevator, and exits at his third-floor apartment. As floral arranger to L.A. royalty such as the Reagans and the Bloomingdales, Jones lived on a two-lot property in Toluca Lake. Ten years ago, when commuting between home, his West Hollywood business and Bel-Air clients became too much, Jones decided to set up a one-stop shop where he could work, live and entertain.
      >
      > "Living like this has made my life a breeze," Jones says. "Before it was run, run, run." He built the three-story structure with a storefront on the ground floor, doctors' offices on the second and his ode to the high life on top. With three working fireplaces, French windows and 360-degree city views, his apartment packs country-estate opulence into 2,800 square feet of antique-laden rooms.
      >
      > "I designed it just the way I wanted it," says Jones, walking through the library, where Phalaenopsis orchids are clustered near a south-facing window. Layered antique rugs form a padded stratum for engraved credenzas and enormous armoires that are filled to capacity with decades' worth of collected porcelain, books and curios.
      >
      > "I don't mind the noise from the street," Jones says. "I grew up in New York and Chicago, where hearing garbage trucks at night is de rigueur." Nevertheless, triple-paned windows and a treetop-level perspective make his apartment feel far from WeHo bustle, especially on candle-lighted evenings when Jones routinely entertains for up to 30. He hires a professional chef and puts two tables in the library and another on the terrace between the dwarf kumquat trees and maidenhair ferns. When the party gets bigger, he'll move it to his shop and courtyard, where the flower cooler turns into a caterer's dream walk-in refrigerator and his French stonework tables become buffet stations. Otherwise, Jones rarely takes friends to his shop, and clients never come up to his apartment.
      >
      > For Jacobs, the lines are fuzzier. "Every facet of my life takes place in the same location," says Jacobs, who uses his gallery for occasional cocktail parties with friends and invites clients to his bungalow. "If I forget to close the door to my house, people walk in there, assuming it's part of the showroom." Having his washer and dryer in the showroom, tucked behind a door marked "Private," doesn't help define public from private space, either. "I've been caught in nothing but a towel at least 10 times by people looking in the window early in the morning," he says.
      >
      > Guilfoyle designed his kennel/home to avoid such ambiguity. He has separate phone lines, strict instructions for employees to call before knocking on his door, and architectural elements designed to protect his privacy. "When we close at night, I close a 10-foot-high electric gate," Guilfoyle says. "During the design process everyone thought the gate was extreme. It's not extreme in the least. I've had people who try to climb the gate to get their dogs when we've already closed for the night."
      >
      > Making the live/work arrangement appealing for his wife, who has an hour-long daily commute and was skeptical about living above a kennel, was critical. "We spent a lot of money and time so that it feels like a loft, not like we're on top of 30 dogs," Guilfoyle says. They opted for functional white slip-covered furniture and a Zen-clean, mostly dog-bed free aesthetic, despite the fact that they share space with a German shepherd, a Maltese and "two geriatric poodles." But even though they have summer dinners from a patio terrace that looks away from the dogs, Guilfoyle says that complete privacy is impossible. "Even during hours when we're closed, people still know I'm here," he says. "Clients feel that you live there so you should always be available."
      >
      > Jimmy Adams and Jay Floyd have found that electric gates and hidden stairways aren't as effective as attitude when keeping clients at bay. "We just tell them no," says Floyd, who with Adams owns Nell's, a furniture and accessories shop. "People ask all the time if they can see our house, but we have to tell them that's where we live." They have owned the mixed-use-zoned shop on Beverly Boulevard for eight years, but last year they decided to call it home too.
      >
      > Until then, a roomy 1926 Mediterranean house in Los Feliz had functioned as their refuge from a hectic work schedule.But when they decided to expand their family, Floyd and Adams began measuring the commute, as well as long hours in the shop, as time lost with their daughter. So they transformed the 1930s single-story brick building into a two-story live/work situation where they could be in constant contact with their children. Eight months later, after permit delays and a construction detour, the project came in over budget and under projected square feet. (At about 2,200 square feet, it's less than half the size of their Los Feliz house.)
      >
      > "We started thinking about how much you pay the gardener and the pool guy," says Adams, who now has two daughters. "It's great not to worry about so much upkeep anymore." What's even better, they say, is that the kids are never far away. "The nanny can bring the kids down during the day whenever we want, so I never have that sense of, 'Oh God, wish I could see them.' "
      >
      > For Guilfoyle, being in constant contact with his boarders is less a luxury, and more a business necessity. This Fourth of July, there was no need to get up and check on the dogs because, like every Independence Day, he spent the night in a chair on his rooftop patio watching them until sunrise. "It allows me to be constantly vigilant on what can be a difficult night for them," hesays. As for worries that he'll end up living a dog's life, Guilfoyle has no fears. "This definitely makes it hard to strike a balance between my work life and my private life, but at a certain point, working that out becomes my therapist's job."


      --
      Richard Risemberg
      http://www.living-room.org
      http://www.newcolonist.com

      "La grandeur d'un metier est peut-etre, avant tout, d'unir des hommes...."

      Antoine de St.-Exupery
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