Laney LA, a young Los Angeles-based architectural firm, designed this modern residence with contrasting themes at play. It both stands out in the neighborhood and blends in with the landscape. It’s dark and moody on the outside, yet has a light and airy interior. At first it feels quite simple, but upon closer investigation, the home is clearly quite grand.

Located in Culver City, the barn leaves a much larger impression than its 2,500-square-foot size implies. The design was crafted with the homeowner’s profession as an underwater cinematographer in mind, mimicking the journey from the ocean’s floor to its sun-lit surface with thoughtful details only a talented and highly creative team could craft. We had a recent chat with Anthony Laney, the firm’s founder and architect, to learn more:

Tell us a bit about this home. Where is it located and how did the location affect the design, if at all?
This home is located in the heart of Culver City, a region of high urban density in Los Angeles. Dotting the landscape of the tree-lined suburban streets is an eclectic mixture of one hundred year old cottages and generic single family homes. This residence was both designed to stand out and blend in. One does not, at first, see the striking black volume, but once seen, it becomes impossible to ignore. 

The clients wanted a home that  would be sheltered from the bustle of neighboring roads , and as such, the black volumetric forms face the street with very few transparent panes allowing passersby to look in. Rather, the architecture directs visitors and the eye to enter an expansive , double height space and terminates in framed views of a quiet green backyard.

The design of the home reflects the homeowner’s profession. Could you tell us a bit about that?
This home was inspired by the client’s underwater cinematography and their commitment to build a home that is low-cost without sacrificing creativity. The home is organized around a light-filled double-height interior volume, simulating the effect of an underwater diver experiencing the dark space below and the bright mass above. 

The design embraces an extreme degree of contrast between the moody, grounded character of the exterior and the floating, airy quality of the interior. 

Beyond the oceanic inspiration, what was your vision for the property?
Our vision was to create a new type of home for a modern family. In this design, we celebrate the merit of economy and investment, of practicality and play, and of simplicity and grandeur. While the architecture evokes the familiar footprint of a traditional barn, the floating black volume defies simple classification through its asymmetrical ridge and the playful positioning of the extruded window. It evokes the classic, while simultaneously becoming a dynamic, progressive representation of elegant modernism.  

We’re sure it’s hard to choose, but what do you love most about the finished home?
We are obsessed with the floating reading nook in the master bedroom. The experience of leaning against frameless glass that overlooks a quiet green backyard is the way we want to end everyday! Moreover, this simple extrusion plays a vital role on the architecture and character of the home, and exemplifies how small design moves have the power to be transformative for an entire project.