After Co. is a Los Angeles-based design & build studio founded by Nickie Huang and Sol Stearns. Their projects feel warm and modern, capturing the best of SoCal’s indoor/outdoor living and hillside views. For this project, dubbed The Ridge House, their aesthetic is clear as a sunny day in L.A.—featuring minimal details that make a big impact. One complete, they called on furniture and finishes from Cle Tile, Zia, Allied Maker, Future Perfect, Ann Sacks, Stone Source, Benjamin Moore, Watermark. The duo tells us more about ethe process. 

Tell us about this home. Where is it located? How did the neighborhood influence the design?
The Ridge house is a gut renovation of a 1930s Colonial Revival-style home sited at the top of the Silverlake hills in Los Angeles. This neighborhood is known for an eclectic mix of housing styles—we wanted to retain some historic detail on the exterior to honor that neighborhood context.

We reconfigured the floor plan to create an open series of spaces that admit abundant light and air, with windows framing views all the way to the Griffith Observatory. Natural finishes with a handmade feel were selected to capture the changing California light throughout the day, and custom furniture and built-ins are featured throughout. The project also includes a new pool house designed to flex as modern life demands and could easily accommodate an office space, guest quarters, or 20-person poolside banquet.

We’d love to know a bit about the interiors. What rooms saw the biggest change?
We combined two tiny rooms—the kitchen and the breakfast room—into one open, eat-in kitchen. We opened the ceilings up to the roofline to give the space new height, and we created new openings for skylights, windows, and doors to flood the room with light. There is custom cabinetry throughout, and we omitted upper cabinets in favor of one full-height cabinetry wall with marble display/storage. We included a built-in bench of white oak and handmade cement tiles for the backsplash. 

The primary bathroom has some interesting details—we’d love to know more.
We were able to fit a lot within a compact space! The pedestal sinks were designed by us and custom fabricated from a slab of Arabescato marble. These are prototypes for products that we will be offering in the future. We also designed the walnut console between the two pedestal sinks instead of a typical vanity. We prefer to design any built-ins to look and act like furniture and this piece has plenty of storage.

What were some of the challenges with the renovation? 
We inherited a very oddly shaped angular kidney pool floating in the center of a concrete deck. We would have liked to reform it to be a more classic shape but couldn’t do it for budgetary reasons. In the end, we found a landscape-based resolution and poured a long concrete planter with lush plantings along the straight side of the pool, so the curvature has something solid to anchor it.

Let’s go back to the guesthouse…what a great space!
The guesthouse is a proposal for a freestanding living unit. Conceived of during the height of the pandemic, “Flex” is modest in size but grand in its ambition to support a whole host of programs in a time when much of life was spent at home. The plan is compact and diagrammatic, with common and supporting programs separated by a thickened wall that serves as a space for structure, storage, the distribution of heating and cooling, and a passageway between spaces.

In the guesthouse, we did a nice detail with the kitchenette millwork. Typically, with wood cabinetry we need to install a veneer at the edges to finish the edges. Instead, we used a ¼” strip of actual wood (walnut in this case) to make the edges more durable, resulting in a detail that also gives the flat fronts more definition.

How long did the project take?
About 20 months. We received good feedback about the light, the material palette, how we framed the views. People loved the marble sinks and freestanding tub looking out onto the hills as well as the eat-in kitchen!

Take a tour in the slideshow.