A Creative Couple Shares How They Built Their “Jungle Gym House”


 

The front exterior features steel grid

Built from the ground up in the neighborhood of Echo Park, in Los Angeles, the 1,560-square-foot home of consultant Melanie Ryan and architect Todd Sussman, cofounders of design studio Open for Humans, is a work of love and dedication. Though it felt like a big challenge, building a house from a design to its full form, the final product has become both their personal refuge and workspace.

“Once we began our search for land, we decided on two must-haves,” Todd says: anti-isolation and views. Although tempted, Todd and Melanie steered clear of more remote hillside lots, instead aiming for something that provided more connection with a community and walkability. Plus, coming from Florida where they were surrounded by miles of at-sea-level terrain, they were drawn to something with elevation.

The design then started with the site. “As the home is situated on an active corner lot, the goal from there was to privatize the street-facing sides of the living spaces and open up the remaining areas to the exterior, focusing views toward either landscaping or vistas,” says Todd.

Building the house from scratch brought its own set of challenges. “Beyond the painfully slow permitting process and having funded this project ourselves, the most strenuous part was sorting out and staying on top of the financing and budget,” Todd adds. “Once we were fortunate enough to be introduced to our contractor, Giraffe, through a mutual friend, the construction itself went fairly smoothly.”

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