495-square-foot former artist’s studio in LA goes from empty to lit

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Then came more practical items, like painting the concrete floor white (but keeping the area around the kitchen exposed to concrete to visually distinguish the spaces) and installing new lighting and electrical wiring. The original fluorescent lighting fell, and she added flush-to-ceiling lighting and a large center light fixture. New power lines were added so that lighting could also be installed in the attic.

The finishing touches came during the pandemic, when Sam installed crown molding on the stairs and around the baseboards to complete the space and, in his own words, “really solidify the studio like a house.”

AFTER: The living room chairs are a vintage 1970s IKEA chair that Sam rebuilt and adapted with pegs and a new sling, and his iconic Bell chair, also with a hammock-like construction. The Cutie stool is also part of Sam’s furniture line.

But what really makes Sam’s house space is its furniture, which she designed and built largely herself. Initially, it was moving into the apartment and working on the loft with her friends that inspired her to build her own furniture. “Three and a half years later, everything in my house is something I made, except my office chair and my C-shaped table,” she says. Her sofa, for example, is the brainchild of a friend who welded the metal base and the large cushion that sits on it, designed by Sam herself and inspired by Brazilian furniture designer Percival Lafer. His Bell chair, now an iconic piece in his own furniture collection, stands out with its plump seat and turn-turned wooden bell-shaped legs.

AFTER: Although I lived in New York and Los Angeles as an adult, “I grew up in Miami and it will forever be a direct inspiration to me,” says Sam.

AFTER: “I like the white walls, lots of sunlight, the glass and the raw and unfinished materials. Wherever I live, these are the things I seek and start to build from. In addition, my life is very busy and I find it important to have a neutral and calm space to come home.

The first room Sam built was his office, working with a friend in his shop in Echo Park. “It’s the simplest thing I’ve built,” she says, “but it stays inherently true to who I am. It’s clean, light and airy. Sam’s love for the bright, white and airy design comes from the fact that he grew up in Miami, she thinks, where the minimalist beach aesthetic is “not just a trend, it’s really what I like, ”she says.

Between his job (first in fashion for 10 years, now in furniture design) and his busy schedule, Sam needs a calm and neutral environment. “I see hundreds of colors, fabrics, patterns and artwork, so when I get home I want a blank slate,” she says. Otherwise, she imagines she would be fed up with strong color palettes and constantly repaint and redecorate. Her books, artwork, and material workspace add pops of color and life that keep the space from feeling too sterile and austere.

AFTER: It took Sam about a year to finally define the layout of the living room.

But her favorite place in the apartment? “I love the view I get from sitting on my couch: my Bell chairs against the backdrop of the bay window and the puddle curtains. The two chairs are sitting there with pedestal tables that I built between them, friends chatting with me, ”she says.

AFTER: After 10 years in the fashion world, the experience of building the loft and then his furniture finally led Sam to start his own small furniture business.

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