Prior to purchasing her three-bedroom, three-bathroom home in the Echo Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Laurel Broughton lived and worked in a converted commercial building in Historic Filipinotown. Its generous size afforded a certain measure of flexibility when it came to accommodating the needs of her growing business, WELCOMEPROJECTS, a studio specializing in architectural and industrial design, creative consulting, and branding. But the static nature of its open floor plan was ultimately a letdown. “It only allowed for a certain kind of use,” she says. “I found myself craving more traditional domestic spaces.”
Her search led her to what she now refers to as the Yolk House, a former 1930s duplex named for the interior staircase that connects the upper and lower living spaces. (“It always felt like an egg yolk to me,” the designer says of its central placement. Fittingly, she later chose for its floors an eye-popping shade of yellow.) The Yolk House offered a prime location, enviable views, and all the domestic comforts Laurel was looking for, but the space’s transformative ability proved to be its biggest draw.
“Because it used to be a duplex, the home felt a little like two redundant spaces, one on top of the other,” she explains. “But what was appealing about that was that it meant I could shrink or expand the space as needed. I’ll sometimes teach for a semester in another city, for instance, so it was really appealing to have a home that could act as one large house some of the time, but could also be divided into two apartments at others—one of which I could use for guests or rent out when I leave.”
With adaptability as a top priority, the designer spent five months transforming the second floor to serve as both a guest apartment for when the home needed to function as two separate residences, and as a well-appointed master suite when it didn’t. “The home originally had two full kitchens, one on each floor,” she explains. “Basically what I ended up doing was dividing the upstairs kitchen into two parts: a kitchenette with a sitting area, and a new bathroom.”
The renovated space was designed to honor the building’s past, with a contemporary twist. In the mini kitchen, custom mint-green cabinetry and classic black-and-white linoleum floors live alongside an airy, peach-hued dining area with built-in banquette seating, arched detailing, and modern lighting. The bathroom, inspired by the monochromatic palettes popular in the ’30s and ’40s, features a vintage Crane pedestal sink and encaustic tile in three shades of green.
The consistency in color between the two zones was deliberate. “I wanted them to feel related,” Laurel says. “So I chose a laminate for the cabinets in the kitchen that was a similar shade to the tile in the bathroom. Everything belongs to the same family, but they’re not identical.”
Nor is anything in the space predictable. Case in point: In the middle of the bathroom floor, among a sea of jade and sage and seafoam green, is a single bubblegum pink tile. “The pink tile is a way of telling a story,” the designer explains. “Old houses have had additions made to them over time, and sometimes these additions are kind of quirky. The pink tile, for me, was a way of putting in a playful detail—but one that also speaks to that sense of change.”
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest