Glow­ing glass ad­di­tion

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - SPACES - By LISA BOONE

IN 2008, ar­chi­tect Kevin Tsai was work­ing for Lor­can O’Her­lihy Ar­chi­tects when he stum­bled upon a rare empty lot in Playa del Rey, in Los An­ge­les.

He bought the prop­erty with an eye to the fu­ture and pro­ceeded to de­sign a mod­est, mod­ern home for him­self, his wife and their two chil­dren.

“It was a dream house for my fam­ily,” Tsai says. “I de­signed it so I could add a sec­ond storey later.”

Six months af­ter he com­pleted the 135sqm (1,450sq feet) home, Tsai lost his job in the wake of the eco­nomic down­turn and was forced to sell the house.

The Tai­wanese-born ar­chi­tect moved his fam­ily to Hong Kong, where con­struc­tion was boom­ing at the time, but re­turned to Los An­ge­les six months later. And just a few years down the road, he was able to ful­fil his vi­sion for the Playa del Rey home, even though he wasn’t liv­ing there.13

Max and So­nia Kim, the cou­ple who had pur­chased the house from Tsai, asked him to re-imag­ine it, and the ar­chi­tect’s wish for a sec­ond storey was re­alised in 2013.

“There was some­thing beau­ti­ful about go­ing to Kevin,” says Max Kim. “They didn’t want to move out of the house. I wanted to hon­our him.”

Kim says they knew from the be­gin­ning that they wanted to add on. “Af­ter liv­ing in the house for two years with two chil­dren, we knew how we wanted to live.”

Tsai re­designed the house as a se­ries of open, con­nected spa­ces that also pro­vide pri­vacy. He moved the bed­rooms on the first floor up­stairs, where he de­signed two mas­ter suites that are sep­a­rated by a study for the Kims’ two boys.


A sense of trans­parency per­me­ates the liv­ing ar­eas down­stairs, which are il­lu­mi­nated by am­ple win­dows and a glass-pan­elled stair­case in the mid­dle of the space. Rooms are set up as a se­ries of ex­posed liv­ing ar­eas, with the din­ing room, liv­ing room and kitchen as one open space at the front of the house, a pri­vate TV room con­cealed in the mid­dle and a mu­sic room that dou­bles as a guest room.

Per­haps the most dra­matic up­date is the up­stairs mas­ter bed­room, an open, light-filled space that is wrapped in floor-to-ceil­ing glass. From the street, the room ap­pears to be float­ing above the orig­i­nal house.

That was Tsai’s in­tent. But be­cause of its ex­po­sure to the street, the glass-box de­sign was ini­tially dif­fi­cult for the cou­ple to come to terms with.

“We don’t like be­ing re­vealed,” says Kim. “But we wanted a sense of el­e­gance and time­less­ness.”

Kim is happy with the re­sults. Even though the cur­tains are gen­er­ally closed, he says the bed­room win­dows con­trib­ute to an amaz­ing lu­mi­nos­ity in the room. The di­aphanous linen drapes tem­per ex­po­sure from the sun but bathe the room in light. “We get a warm glow in the room all day long,” he adds.

Asked if it was hard to work on the house he had to leave be­hind, Tsai is philo­soph­i­cal. “It was more grat­i­fy­ing to fin­ish the sec­ond storey and find the right own­ers for the house I de­signed. I feel ev­ery­thing hap­pens for a good rea­son.” – Los An­ge­les Times/McClatchyTri­bune In­for­ma­tion Ser­vices

Here’s an in­ter­est­ing way to add space to a home that doesn’t have a lot of space to stretch out in. — MCT

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