Mid-Century Modern Meets the New Millennium
- Written bySuzanna Cullen
“Patience, patience, patience.” That is the mantra required when undertaking a home renovation. Building on vacant ground is easy, because architectural plans dictate exactly what is to be expected during the process. But when remodeling an existing home, nothing is definite, and surprises are frequent. However, if a house has good bones and great light with wonderful views, the obvious choice is to update and upgrade rather than tear down. When Renee Stauffer and her husband, Ron, went to see a 1967 ranch that had come on the market in Hermosa Beach, she “knew it was the house for us; we had to have it.”
The house had undergone a renovation in the 1980s, so the growing family of five was able to live in the house for four years before tackling their own remodel. Typical of ranches of that era, the house was comprised of small, chopped spaces that prevented light and blocked fabulous ocean views. As their children got older, Renee Stauffer “got tired of the tight, dark kitchen, and once we decided to knock down one wall and open it up, we decided to do the whole house.” The result is a wonderful, open ranch with tremendous views of the Pacific and ample room for their three busy children.
Renee and Ron spent years studying the architecture of the South Bay as well as modernist interpretations of mid-century ranches. There were design elements that were critical to the couple, including a wraparound deck, a balcony off the expansive kitchen and replacement of all windows and doors with pivot doors that open to the fresh sea air.
The couple consulted with James Meyer, AIA, of Lean Arch, and “he nailed it on the first meeting,” says Ron. Additionally, the couple took the opportunity to apply green, sustainable building practices to the design where it was practical. The house now has solar panels, which have resulted in a massive reduction in electricity bills.
Where there is an absence of decoration, there is an abundance of color or texture. The kitchen backsplash is fire engine red, while brilliant yellow stools stand like sentinels at the breakfast counter. Mangaris wood wraps walls that were once white, yielding texture to the space. In a fabulous discovery, the 1980s green marble fireplace surround was removed, and the original brick fireplace was found. A carefully considered collection of California artists, such as Emma Ferreira and Dave Kinsey, add dimension to the rooms.
The outside entertaining area was cleared of abundant foliage and dirt, and pavers were replaced with decking to create a large, uniform space. It was very important to Renee to have the elements of fire and water, so a huge outdoor fireplace anchors the seating area, while a water wall trickles outside the living room pivot door. The result is a peaceful setting with a view of the Pacific, which flows completely around the house from the outdoor patio to the front balcony.
Most of the house is within the original footprint; however, one space was added that has benefited the entire family. A large crawl space was hidden next to the garage and under the current living room. A major excavation yielded a large space that now accommodates a playroom, guest bedroom and office.
Many homes in the South Bay are new homes built where mid-century homes once stood. Fortunately, this fabulous mid-century modern home was saved and remodeled by very committed home- owners who had great vision and tremendous patience.