When actors (and hands-on remodelers) Amanda Pays and Corbin Bernsen decided to downsize to a 1949 three bedroom fixer-upper in Studio City, LA, they had to find space to fit their family of six. The fact that their four boys, ages 15 to 24, all happen to be giants made the need for extra room that much more pressing. Fortunately, the previous owner had built a palatial workshop-tool shed for himself in the backyard.
In their transformation of the unheated workshed, the couple corralled their talents–Pays is now a professional interior designer and house flipper specializing in recycled design (see Amanda Pays Design), and Bernsen, one of the stars of the television series Psych, has serious carpentry skills having trained early in his career under his builder uncle. The results are a bunkhouse that stands ready for coming-and-going grown children and guests, plus a mezzanine ideal for drum playing and painting. And, surprisingly, it was all built on a (relative) shoestring.
Need some space for extra guests but don’t have a shed? See Instant Backyard Room for Summer Guests.
Photographs by Matthew Williams for Remodelista.
Above: Pays and Bernsen entirely lined the interior of the workshed with scrap wood siding from a now defunct salvage dealer. They whitewashed it by painting it (Benjamin Moore Simply White–“with a brush not a roller,” specifies Pays, “I like to see the strokes”) and then rubbing it with a rag. They upgraded the old concrete floor with a new layer of poured concrete. And built a mezzanine level; Corbin himself hammered the wooden ladder with metal railing that leads to it. The finished interior is spacious enough for a hangout area, plus side-by-side bedrooms.
Above: The bedrooms are sectioned off by Pays’ signature curtains made from all-cotton painter’s drop cloths suspended from galvanized plumber’s pipe, both from local home supply store Anawalt Lumber. The metal bed frames are Room & Board’s Parsons Twin Bed.
Above: The industrial lighting came from the Rose Bowl Flea Market.
Above: In lieu of space-hogging bedside tables, Bernsen built shelves from scaffolding boards and steel L brackets. Inspired and want to build your own? See DIY: Rustic Wooden Shelves.
Above: Each bedroom is kitted out with built-in shelves, drawers, and a small closet.
Above: A small TV has been slipped in between shelves.
Above: The closets have hardware store aluminum pulls–”$2 each,” says Pays–and are whitewashed inside and out. “We had a great carpenter and painter helping us,” says Pays. “I design; Corbin does all of the drawing to fine detail. He’s good with space; I’m good with colors, textures, and placement.”
Above: A new bathroom next to the bedrooms is just big enough for a sink–with cast concrete counter–toilet and shower. The white shower tile and American Standard toilet are from Lowe’s. The window shade is made from a drop cloth. Have you ever considered a concrete countertop? See Remodeling 101: Concrete Countertops to learn more.
Above: The mezzanine level serves as a music space and art studio.
Above: Bookshelves have been shoehorned under the eaves.
Above: True, most unheated backyard workshops aren’t stuccoed and shingled–and positioned next to pools. Pays and Bernsen painted the structure a warm concrete gray, replaced its sliding glass doors with old front doors from Old Good Things, and added a barn light from a swap meet. The windows are original, but in several spots were relocated. During their renovation of the main house, the couple and their youngest son lived happily in the bunkhouse for six months. Want to see their California king-sized kitchen? It’s featured in full detail in our book, Remodelista, A Manual for the Considered Home, as is Bernsen’s ingenious solution for storing batteries and light bulbs.
To tour another standout remodel in a 1940s LA house, go to A Thrifty New England Kitchen By Way of LA and Steal This Look: A Barbara Bestor-Designed Master Bath. More of our favorite celebrity designers? See Behind the Scenes: 5 Design Lessons from Julianne Moore and Q/A with Diane Keaton and Palette and Paints with Diane Keaton.
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