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RTR Design Build

Photo: RTR Design Build

Regions Served

  • Los Angeles & S. CA
  • San Francisco & Bay Area

Designing & Building Lifestyles

Ruins to Renovation (RTR) is a full service design-build firm that believes function should always be served by form, and form should always be exquisite.

Whether it’s from the ground up or a remodel, RTR works from the inside-out versus the outside-in approach of a traditional architect. RTR is always thinking how to use design to create spaces that bring families and people together.  It’s a philosophical approach that is in everything we do. It’s the architecture, the engineering, the design, and the way natural landscapes from outside are integrated into the warmth and intimacy of the interior living spaces. Although each RTR project has its own inherent style based on the existing structure, the common thread is homes and spaces that combine effortless functionality with peaceful beauty.

RTR’s Approach

RTR’s process begins with in-depth consultations concerning a client’s needs, desires and design preferences, with owner and head designer Ruth Black. Then, drawing upon the expertise of RTR’s in-house think tank consisting of a LEED certified contractor and engineer, master carpenter, mason, painter, and landscape expert, Black is able to create architectural drawings that solve even the most challenging situations with clean, elegant design. Because the project’s design has been developed and shared with the entire team, the building process is not only seamless and cost-efficient but also a true expression of each craftsman’s excellence.

Ruth Black

on Kitchens: “Kitchens today are the center of life in a house. We do heavy planning and detail work, ensuring our kitchens not only look gorgeous but work effortlessly, encouraging families to put down their phones (especially kids), cook, talk, taste, play, enjoy and connect with one another.”

on Gardens: “Gardens, even small ones in boxes, change everything about a space. Used correctly, they can masterfully delineate outdoor space into intimate outdoor rooms, direct people’s movement through the space, and my very favorite thing a garden does is make a space warm and inviting.”

on Interiors: “When the last nail is hammered in, and the building part of the project is done, creating interiors unique to each client is essential.”

on the Best Feeling in the World: “Finishing a complete remodel—top to bottom, inside and out—and seeing our client relax and enjoy it.”


rtr logo smaller



  • Ruth Black


  • Los Angeles, CA

Featured Projects

2 story guest house by rtr 10
side view of hollywood hills guest house by rtr 12

Hollywood Hills from the Ground Up Design & Build

RTR developed a raw three-acre site in the Hollywood hills, designing and building a James Beard Award-winning chef’s test kitchen and entertaining hub, with guest quarters upstairs, a pool, and huge gardens all opening to incredible city and canyon views. The goal was to create a space for fellow chefs the world over, friends, family, foodies and lots of children to gather, cook, eat, enjoy, and play.

Photos: RTR Design Build
kitchen remodel by rtr 14

Midcentury Remodel

Part of a major inside and outside remodel and structural underpinning project, the kitchen was pure joy, taking three small spaces and turning them into a cook’s dream come true.

Photo: RTR Design Build
santa monica bungalow remodel 16
santa monica bungalow remodel 18

Santa Monica Bungalow

This was a super fun project as the client wanted to add outdoor rooms not indoors by opening up entire walls on the back of the house—with French doors opening onto vine-covered pergola-shaded decks, leading to pathways of secret gardens and intimate spaces to pass a lazy afternoon in the garden, curled up on an outdoor chaise reading.

Photos: RTR Design Build
los feliz home & garden by rtr 20

Los Feliz Home & Garden Remodel

A major remodel as well as large additions both upstairs and down, gave an old, tired Spanish beauty—on the tip-top of a hillside—new life. Gutted inside, RTR reorganized the space for a more modern open flow, with an updated, bigger kitchen, and bathrooms, while still respecting the architecture. Outside—where there was nothing but steep hillside—RTR carved a beautiful pool and gardens to lounge and enjoy.

Photo: RTR Design Build
hollywood hills home remodel by rtr 22
hollywood hills home remodel by rtr 24

Hollywood Hills Remodel

In the bird streets of the Hollywood hills, another big remodel, gutting the entire inside, adding additional square footage upstairs and down to create a huge master suite with a luxurious sitting room overlooking the expanse of the city. With an all-new chef’s kitchen, and beautiful new bathrooms that remain true to the nature of the vintage vibe, including the eclectic interior design and gardens—all by RTR.

Photos: RTR Design Build
living space by rtr 26

Holmby Hills Remodel

Although we do not do interiors as a stand-alone project, RTR offers interior design services in concert with their design build projects.  Interiors are an essential component of the design build process because they complete the vision of our intended lifestyle design. RTR’s floor plans are always developed with the furniture layouts in mind. It’s important for that final layer in creating homes that flow and invite families to spend time together in intimate rooms, filled with warmth.

Photo: RTR Design Build
hardscape and landscape by rtr 28
hardscape and landscape by rtr 30

Historic A. Quincy Jones Landscape Architecture Project

For this historic A. Quincy Jones garden renovation, RTR cleared an entire one-acre of a challenging hillside property. A series of garden walls were built to create pathways and flows through the once inaccessible property. Later, these garden walls were made imperceptible by the garden design. The entire front of the house was completely covered in black asphalt. What was once a giant parking lot became an oasis filled with a park-like grove of California native trees, including giant oaks and sycamore.

Photos: RTR Design Build
topanga canyon remodel by rtr 32

Topanga Canyon Remodel

A broken down 1890’s Topanga hunting lodge constructed with numerous disconnected out-buildings built around an old, original fireplace, found new life when RTR joined the buildings together with a single cohesive architectural idea. As part of the design build project, RTR opened exterior walls to create incredible gardens stretching out to canyon views.

Photo: RTR Design Build
garden westwood rtr_36
RTR Design Build portrait 3 36

Westwood Secret Garden

How to satisfy kids and dogs while still allowing for adults to elegantly dine al fresco in beautiful garden rooms. This garden keeps everyone happy. It’s tough as nails, low maintenance, private, resilient and yet always looks perfectly overgrown in that eccentric British style. Just the thing RTR loves!

Photos: RTR Design Build
ar cucina restaurant by rtr 38

A.R. Cucina Restaurant Build Out

Respecting the cool industrial vibe of downtown Culver City, RTR transformed an old, dark, chopped-up space into an open indoor/outdoor restaurant with a big, wide-open kitchen, dramatic wood-burning oven and beautiful gardens perfect for Akasha Richmond’s farm to table, country Italian Cuisine.

Photo: Rob Stark