Superior home design isn’t about leather sectionals or 70-inch TVs, but rather the little things.
Excellent lighting. Interesting planters. An doorknob made from scrap metal.
Because a good home, like a good story, conceals moments of genuine discovery.
And Micah Heimlich, the brains behind local design firm UnHeim, is an expert at creating them. Heimlich is equal measures interior architect and inventor, and he’s styled the abodes of some of SoCal’s most well-heeled aesthetes in wildly thoughtful ways.
He also makes furniture, hardware and lighting. So when he told us he and his husband had just remodeled their Arts District loft, we quickly accepted a tour. It’s tactile and stylish, with doorknobs made from reclaimed rebar, lighting that both brightens the room and serves as artwork, and storage that keeps everything neat and tidy.
Rather than leaving the space wide open, as many loft owners do, he built separations and a centerpiece kitchen console that orients everything on a plane, guiding your eye from one are to the next. He also softened the room with rugs (also his designs) and wrapped large plants in a magnetic fence called a Plantum (ditto).
Given his expertise, we asked Heimlich to share seven tips on how to turn your own space into the ultimate showstopping bachelor pad.
InsideHook: How do you begin the process of planning out a room?
Micah Heimlich: Deciding how you want to use the space is key. Does it serve more than one function? How much time do you spend in it? The less clutter, the better. And only buy quality goods, which never go out of style. They don’t have to be new — the patina of use only adds to quality.
IH: Do you have any tips on placing things throughout a room in order to achieve maximum “flow”?
MH: Knowing how you move about in the space and how many occupants it has will tell you where to place everything. Point of view is also essential. For this loft, everything is arranged so that when you enter the front door, you get an unobstructed view right through the loft and out the windows to the Art Deco bridge and the mountains beyond. You also have to take into consideration the placement of services, such as electric outlets, plumbing and most importantly, sewage.
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IH: Is there a linchpin item every guy needs but often overlooks?
MH: Storage is crucial. Lots of basic shelving will never go astray. In our case, the full-length custom bookcases relieved the burden of where to put everything. And two-thirds of the storage has sliding doors. The other thing about loft living — or, if you like, “loft couture” — is avoid preconceived notions. Living in lofts requires that you have to rethink the ways you live in the city.
IH: What's something every pad must have, and one thing to avoid getting?
MH: Every loft must have good lighting: overhead lighting plus personalized accent lighting, pendants, wall sconces, etc. It adds depth of purpose and helps define the person or persons who live there. And every space needs a carpet to give definition. Also, avoid Jacuzzis at all costs.
IH: How much art should be on the walls?
MH: As little as possible, and what you do show should be world class. I would recommend hiring professional art installers: correct hanging is invaluable. And bad art is never excusable.
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IH: What would you look for when finding a good space/flat/apartment/condo?
MH: Two things: a sense of open space, and good views. People in the trade refer to the bones of a space. This is not only just about the architectural bits and details, but a sense of proportion. If the proportion is off, the room will most likely not feel right, even with the finest of fixtures and finishes.
IH: Tell us about your furniture designs: the inspiration, materials and manufacturing.
MH: I’m drawn to natural materials, first and foremost, but as a student of art, architecture and design, I look for a lot of my ideas in the past, present and what seems to be coming up in the future. The heft, feel or look of the materials that I use tells me how they can be worked to achieve the desired effects. My ideas are dreams realized in the here and now.