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Friday Five with Karl Champley

Australia native and NKBA K+B Insider Karl Champley is a Los Angeles-based master builder whose face you probably recognize if you’ve spent any time watching the DIY Network or HGTV. Specializing in commercial and residential construction, Champley has earned a multitude of awards for his work in remodels, extensions, new homes, restaurants, and even fire houses since his start in 1983. From apprentice carpenter and joiner in the beginning, he quickly discovered his calling as he acquired new skills and promotions along the way until he earned his Master Builders license. When not building houses, he’s a home inspector, radio host, author, and environmental building consultant. In this week’s Friday Five, the multi-talented Champley shares five people, places, and things that keep him inspired.

1. My son
My 11-year-old son Kai will always be on top of my inspiration list. He is tough, fearless, compassionate and much smarter than I am. He inspires me to excel in whatever I do and influences my project designs to be built for how I feel my boy and his generation will be living in the years to come.

2. The island of Tetiaroa, Tahiti
The sounds, colors and purity of the outdoors are my escape whenever I need a break from it all. Tetiaroa, an island approximately 30 miles north of Tahiti in the middle of the Pacific – originally owned by Marlon Brando—is my paradise. Prior to Brando’s passing, the small bungalows on the island were built from the island’s raw materials, like giant clamshells and coconut wood. Marlon even plowed his own runway just long enough for a small plane to land, which stops just in time for the nose of the airplane to be dangling over the water. It’s truly beautiful and reminds me to be self sufficient in my work and to always incorporate elements of nature. For me, it’s therapeutic.

3. Coffee
When we designed our home in Los Angeles, I used Gaggenau appliances — my favorite of is the espresso machine. As a fan of modern design, this appliance blends beautifully in many kitchens and it’s a true luxury item that acts as my inspiration for creative ideas. One of my favorite creations is premium vanilla ice cream with espresso poured on top. Stop and smell the coffee, if you will.

Photo by Corey Leopold

4. My hometown of Sydney, Australia
Sydney is truly a beautiful and vibrant city that I still call home, even though I’ve lived in Los Angeles for the past 16 years. Sydney is multicultural, fast-paced, clean and has scenic viewpoints from wherever you stand. There’s an amazing contrast between the modern architecture and the original sandstone structures built in 1800. The most modern buildings embrace innovative trends and the latest building techniques with a strong European flavor. The city is a testing ground to what the future holds in our industry, and due to the extreme conditions and resources, it has taught me to always design and build efficiently with our environment in mind.

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5. My Tools
Tools, raw materials, and exciting concepts are all part of my motivation to bring quality projects from concept to completion. I like to imagine what the structures we’ll call home 20 years from now will look like, and then create pieces that embrace those concepts.

Even though I take a more forward-thinking and futuristic approach to my work and design, I believe in the lost art of working with your hands. Even as my roles and responsibilities evolve, I’ll always stay close to nitty-gritty behind the building process – any excuse to use my tools!



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