Oxford Square is one of 36 historic districts in Los Angeles, CA. Located in central Los Angeles, about five miles west of downtown, the historic community is positioned between Pico Boulevard and Olympic Boulevard, and comprises both Victoria Avenue and South Windsor Boulevard.

Nestled on a ridge, most homes within Oxford Square boast views of both the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Park Observatory. Several residents have lived in the neighborhood since the 1950s and 1960s, with many homes passed down from generation to generation. The tightly-knit community contains about 200 one- and two-family houses, a majority of which have been faithfully restored over the years.

A couple of homeowners in the community recently decided to transform their “simple one-story home” into a more contemporary space with the help of architect, Earl Parson. “It was really a true collaboration,” said the founder of Parson Architecture in Los Angeles, CA. “The overall goal was to completely re-imagine the interior of a smaller historic home from the 1920s that had great exterior features, but a very bland and unremarkable interior.”

The new 1,800-square-foot home underwent a handful of changes, including a rear addition to allow for a new kitchen and master suite, which feature handcrafted ceramic and cement tiles from Arto Brick in Gardena, CA. “Tile was used to enliven the spaces and bring life to the interior,” Parson said. “The clients told us they loved the bold use of tile in the very beginning of the design process and wanted to incorporate beautiful tilework in the design. Thus, for the kitchen backsplash, we envisioned a major tile piece as part of the design. This decision steered us to creating a kitchen layout that avoided upper cabinets as much as possible.

“Once the overall kitchen layout was established, the ‘big tile backsplash’ was something that the clients and I discussed and deliberated for weeks as other parts of the design progressed along,” the architect explained. “We debated murals of different kinds and various graphical patterns and designs. When my clients suggested a ‘tumbling blocks’ motif, I knew the Arto concrete diamonds would be perfect.”

The diamond-shaped concrete tiles from Arto’s Artillo collection were implemented in a 3- x 5-inch format for the kitchen’s backsplash using the subtle colors, “Bone,” “Early Gray” and “Natural Gray.” The eye-catching design created emulates cubes, which complements the wooden casework and stainless steel appliances. “We went with a muted color palette because, after all, it is a very big graphic feature of the main space of the home,” Parson said.

For the master suite’s bathroom, a variety of rectangular- and hexagonal-shaped ceramic tiles from Arto’s Oleson collection were applied on the floors and walls in the colors “Aqua,” “Persian Blue” and “Ash.” The sink backsplash and shower walls feature thin vertical strips of rectangular-shaped tiles in the color “Aqua.” For the bottom of the shower walls, the rectangular-shaped tiles were flipped to a horizontal format, where they were used in “Persian Blue,” a navy-like color with hints of black. These tiles were also carried onto the shower bench, which extends outside of the shower, spanning the entire length of the bathroom.

On the floors, two different sizes of hexagonal-shaped tiles from the Oleson collection were used in the color “Ash.” A smaller format was utilized for the shower floor, while a larger format almost three times the size was selected for the exterior floor. “The dark gray floor for the bathroom was chosen for its utility and also because it made a beautiful neutral background for the brighter shower and sink backsplash tile, and wood cabinets in that room,” Parson said.

More than 200 square feet of tile from Arto was used for the project, which took around one-and-a-half-years to bring to fruition. “My clients really had a strong desire to pack a lot of design into a small space,” Parson said. “The reaction has been great. Everyone loves the tilework in this house. The big Arto kitchen piece especially.”

Private residence

Los Angeles, CA

Architect: Parson Architecture,Los Angeles, CA

Tile Supplier: Arto Brick, Gardena, CA (Artillo concrete tile collection in “Bone,” “Early Gray” and “Natural Gray;” Oleson ceramic tile collection in “Aqua,” “Persian Blue” and “Ash”)