Architect Don Dimster celebrates the concept of communal family space with a pair of homes in Venice, California, for himself and his brother.

Don Dimster and his filmmaker brother, Dennis, had lived together on and off for nearly a decade when, in 2004. Eight years and myriad hypothetical schemes later, the Dimsters moved into the duplex that Don designed with a fantastic minimalist design.


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The dramatic staircase in architect Dom Dimster’s Southern California home is made from T- and L-profile steel, shelf board, glass panels, and plate steel. Electric shades on the outside of the house keep the sun from penetrating the glass wall of the staircase and overheating the interior.

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Don preferred closed cabinets for his kitchen but Dennis didn’t want doors swinging out. So Don designed plywood sliders that park at specific positions and fit together like puzzle pieces in Dennis’s space.

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Don designed and built the white-oak kitchen table, which is cantilevered so knees don’t bump the underpinnings.

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Half of the table can be manually raised to counter height, making an ideal serving, prep, or work station. “Don did all of the welding,” Lisa says, “and I’d hold the fire-spark cloth to protect the cabinets and wood bench.”

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With a fire pit, mobile shades, and drought-tolerant grasses recessed in the Mangaris plank expanse, the roof deck is a communal space in the duplex. The Kookaburra Shade Sail, made of a woven polymer material that prevents mold, can be moved around as needed.

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The master bathroom has a small window and a large skylight above the shower—and shares a translucent glass expanse with the kitchen, where it becomes the backsplash. “Even though it’s a buried room,” Don says, “we have three sources of natural light. For the shower, we made a very high curb so you can stop up the drain and turn it into a big soaking tub. We used white, one-by-four-inch or one-by-six-inch Carrara marble tiles from Royal Stone and Tile. They come on a 12-by-12-inch sheet. I got the small tiles because you can use them to work the bottom plane into the shower.”


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