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The Construction of the CBR Speakeasy

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On October 31st, 2012, CBR moved out of our tiny little office in Hollywood. We outgrew the 550 sq. ft. space in the almost 90 year old building. Then, the office’s ownership changed, improvements to the aging building were slow to come, parking became an inescapable nightmare and rent was ridiculous. Time for a change.

In December of 2012, we moved in to our new space in the NoHo Arts District, in a brand new building with plenty of parking, great access to public transportation (the NoHo Metro station is a block away) and based in a really exciting part of the city filled with great energy. More importantly, we have triple the space of the previously space, allowing me to finally realize the kind of studio I’ve always wanted.

After getting the office built and decorated, it was time to begin construction on the CBR TV studio. I decided on the theme of a comic book speakeasy, and it was time to get to work on the design. I started visiting speakeasys around Los Angeles and spent a lot of time on Etsy and in vintage furniture stores searching for inspiration. I came away knowing I wanted a number of things — a vintage, worn look with dark woods, deep colors, brick work and ceiling tiles with some industrial touches thrown in. The space needed to work not only as a studio, but also as a place to entertain.

I did a lot of research online (again, thank you Etsy!) and took lots of pictures at places I visited around town. While I figured out all the pieces I wanted, I needed help bringing these disparate ideas together. I called in my friend Jimmy O’Banion, who designs and builds amazing sets for movie premieres. When Warner’s needed a Shire in the middle of New York City, they called him.

He came out to the office and I showed him the space.

Blank Space

This is the far end of our suite the way it looked the day we signed our lease. By the time Jimmy dropped by, a wall had been put up between the post and the far left wall. I explained the basic layout of the room; I knew that section to the left would be where our closets would go, along with a couch and wall-mounted TV. To the right would be the main studio, and we’d create a false wall at the far right corner of the room. I showed him my photos and research and we talked about ways to incorporate them in the space.

Less than 24 hours later, Jimmy had some suggestions, presenting me with a quick, rough layout for the room.


First, the layout of the room. This is what Jimmy and I had discussed, but he had the great idea to add a bar type booth in the corner. We’ll get that done in the future for sure, along with the bar.

CBR Speakeay Rough

Again, this was just a quick concept Jimmy worked up in Photoshop, not a finished piece, but he nailed it. He knew exactly what I wanted. The wainscoting was a great cost-saving idea of his, because I had originally envisioned full walls of brick. He also knew I was considering installing a drop ceiling with tin ceiling tiles once the stage lighting was in, but suggested we keep the open ceiling and use the tiles as an accent in the wainscoting. Great idea! He knew I wanted to use mason jars for our ambient lighting and worked that in, but we ended up going a slightly different direction, as you’ll see later.

He also suggested we not use actual brick. Even sheared bricks means a lot of dust and labor. He turned me on to Pulp Art Surfaces, a company which uses recycled cardboard to manufacture incredible printed brick patterns that can be installed in minutes. Once I contacted Pulp Art, they printed a sample of what our speakeasy logo could look like.

CBR Test Brick Pattern

In that photo, you can see two different types of weathering on the logo, and we eventually went with something a bit in-between. You also can see what the bare bricks look like without any paint on them.

With the design basically settled just off that rough sketch, Jimmy drew up some basic guidelines for my handyman and we were off to the races!

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George Tramountanas

July 4, 2013 at 11:26 pm

Fantastic job!!! This is the kind of office I’d LOVE to work in! I can’t wait for an in person visit next time I’m in town!

Wow congratulations on a beautiful job! Looks amazing and I love how in depth this article went in showing the process. Can’t wait to see it utilized on camera!

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