Power Point
(Dave Lauridsen)
At a former power station with a deep history, modern life is humming along as the 1906 building acts as a location for film screenings, art shows, weddings and photo shoots. The Huron Substation in Cypress Park, the second-oldest surviving substation in Los Angeles and No. 404 on the city's list of cultural-historic monuments, once housed equipment to power the L.A. Railway's Yellow Cars.

Owner Meike Kopp, an event producer and property developer, is currently working to bring it up to code as her full-time residence. "When I bought the substation it didn't have hot water, heating or insulation," she says. "I was washing my dishes outside with the hose."

Today, there is hot water but no insulation, and she says it may never be installed: "I don't want to ruin the integrity of the building by covering up the beautiful antique brick." She's considering environmentally friendly radiant wall panels for heat. "They're flat, more like European radiators, and can be located below eye level," says the German-born Kopp. "That makes more sense."

Right now, she plans to keep the former electrical transformer room (32 by 46 feet) as a space for large events. An adjacent area and part of the mezzanine are reserved for her private living quarters. On the mezzanine, a corner room with Shoji-esque sliding doors is used as a playroom for Kopp's 9-year-old son and his friends, as well as a place for brides to dress and actors to have their hair and makeup done when she rents the space.

Kopp--a single parent on a shoestring budget--has hit on ingenious ways to deck out the former substation. A steel cable routed around the beams and threaded with Ikea curtains defines the master bedroom. A large branch decorated with crystals, birds and Christmas lights acts as a romantic chandelier. In the renovated kitchen, an 11-foot-long Sequoia slab functions as a center island.

On hot summer nights, a large fan helps cool the masonry building, billowing the bedroom curtains. "It's really lovely and romantic to sleep here," Kopp says. "This old building reminds me so much of Europe--it has so much history and character--that's not so easy to find in L.A. I just love it."