When a Los Angeles–based entrepreneur and writer were seeking creative refuge, they didn’t have to travel far for inspiration. The duo simply looked to their backyard to erect a 245-square-foot guesthouse on their hillside property in the Los Feliz neighborhood. Nestled just behind their main residence, the tranquil space serves as a work/play sanctuary for the couple and their two children.
Local landscape design firm Terremoto imagined the Monon Guesthouse to be a wild and graphic garden rife with cacti and grass. When architectural designer Jerome Byron stepped in, he took the concept from imagination to reality, building a tree house–like structure that he describes as a "kind of garden folie."
The finished structure closely resembles the initial sketch of a compact dwelling that juxtaposes clean lines with unusual proportions. Throughout the space, primary geometries are accented by thoughtful pops of color that are intended to invite creative thought.
The backyard guesthouse features an angular roof, circular and rectangular windows, and quirky interior details. In one area, a rounded window is eclipsed by a Noguchi globe pendant.
Cedar decking forms a bridge between the existing home and guesthouse. A set of stairs leads up to the site and around an exterior hot tub. The wood winds around the structure in a vertically oriented cladding with an open-joint system. A warm palette continues inside the structure with plywood walls and minimal built-in furnishings.
"The project was inspired by tree houses, so it naturally feels very warm and muted," explains Byron. "However, I didn't want everything to feel one-note, so I used the fixtures and furniture as an opportunity to introduce pops of colors to compliment the overall warmth."
The guesthouse is all about balance in both form and function: An office nook overlooks the backyard, offering a serene place to work, while a living area features a built-in couch with olive-green mohair cushions, as well as the couple’s two vintage pinball machines. A major focal point is the large, detachable yellow ladder that climbs up to the loft, where a rust-red daybed offers views that open up across the garden and hot tub area.
"I decided on the yellow ladder for two reasons," says Byron. "I wanted to evoke an image of a fire station ladder with a playful obstacle to climb up and down. But with such a small space and a tall mezzanine level, I wanted to make sure that the ladder was also highly visible." The hue of the paint is even appropriately named Safety Yellow.
Come nightfall, the imaginative space takes on a more mysterious air. The circular Noguchi lamp mimics a full moon, while the exterior plants cast towering shadows against the tree house–inspired structure.