LA Arts and Crafts: Luxe Handmade Detailing in a Topanga Canyon Update

“They sold their big, modern house and bought a camper van that they traveled around in until they decided where they wanted to end up.” LA designer Gabrielle Aker of Aker Interiors is explaining how her clients—an engineer and a business consultant with a young daughter—took an unexpected journey in the early days of the pandemic. The adventure led them to Topanga Canyon, the artsy enclave in the Santa Monica Mountains, which, courtesy of twisty roads and lack of cell service, manages to hold onto some of its celebrated hippie vibe.

Nestled amid giant California oaks, the family’s new place, a 1992 stone house, was literally rock solid, if decidedly lacking in soul.”The finishes throughout were cheap and lacked intentionality and depth,” says Gabrielle whose mandate, in her words, was “to create an elevated, contemporary version of the classic Topanga Canyon hideaway using quality, sustainable materials.” Along the way, a new kitchen was hand built; windows and sliding doors were upgraded; the vast, single-bedroom upstairs got divided into parents’ and kid quarters; and lots of local artisans contributed. Join us for a look at the arts and crafts movement, LA 2023-style.

Photography by Michael Clifford, courtesy of Aker Interiors.

the house’s new look starts at the enlarged front door: gabrielle a 14
Above: The house’s new look starts at the enlarged front door: Gabrielle added a design from Urban Doors of LA—”it was the last from a discontinued line and had a crack, but we loved the door and felt the crack gave it even more character.” The handle is the Sickle Grip from Rocky Mountain Hardware. The full side transom window replaced a small overhead transom.

the slickly informal foyer has a bench made from a live edge panel supplied by  15
Above: The slickly informal foyer has a bench made from a live-edge panel supplied by Angel City Lumber, which sources its raw materials exclusively from felled trees. According to the firm’s site, “when a tree comes down in LA County, our work is to retain the worth both of the wood and the living spirit of a part of our city.” Throughout the house, the Aker team used Roman Clay, a luminous plaster wall finish applied with a putty knife. Selected as a eco-friendly alternative to latex, it’s a speciality from LA’s Portola Paints; the shade shown here is Patagonia. The Cobble Wall Hooks are by Stahl + Band: see Luxury Crafts in Venice, CA.