When rehabbing her 100-year-old house in Venice Beach, Calif., architect Isabelle Duvivier wanted to reuse as much of the materials as possible. “We started tearing out walls to update the wiring,” Duvivier says, “and we came across these pristine fir 2x4s.” All of those wall studs were saved, but strict building codes forbid repurposing the wood for anything structural.
The boards were all uniform, solid, and straight in addition to being gorgeous. Bookshelves and stair treads seemed a natural fit for the wood, especially because they are Douglas fir like the original floors. Given the house’s compact layout, combining the two functions in one space made even more sense. Code dictates stair treads be at least 3 feet wide. Duvivier added an extra foot to that so the shelves segue cleanly into every other tread. Several of the boards were intact at extreme lengths, which allowed most of the shelf spans to be crafted from a single board. The top bookshelf, for example, is one 13-foot-long piece of wood. Existing plaster walls and ceilings meant lathing was nailed to the boards every 2 inches. Duvivier opted to leave the rust-stained nail holes alone as a sign of the wood’s age. Invisible dowels support the shelves for a light floating look to balance the dark wood. Stair treads are suspended from stainless steel cables and boat hardware with powder-coated steel brackets underneath. Duvivier adds that “even the railing was made from one of the reused boards cut in half.”
Project LEED Platinum Home, Venice, Calif.
Architect/Builder Duvivier Architects, Venice