If only homes could talk.
Well, they do. To me. And I want to share their stories with you.
As a general building contractor with 30 years of experience remodeling close to 300 of L.A.’s luxury homes and condominiums, I have had the opportunity to restore these jewels to their previous glory – all with a modern twist.
I have worked with many of the top architects in the city. I have remodeled homes for Sting, Madonna, Rod Stewart, Jim Carrey and former Secretary of State Warren Christopher. I have stripped homes down to their studs, uncovered their hidden signs of aging, and admired their craftsmanship and design brilliance.
I have done projects throughout L.A.: Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, Hancock Park, Santa Monica, Venice, Hollywood Hills, Silver Lake, Studio City, Westwood-Century City, Bel Air, Brentwood, and Cheviot Hills. Some homes were built near the turn of last century. Others as recently as the 1980s.
Over time, this blog will take you on a tour of many of these homes. Along the way I’ll talk about architects of today and yesterday, of the challenges of updating a home but keeping its old charm. I’ll give you tips on working with builders and architects. I’ll open the door – literally – to a host of treasures that dot our landscape.
1951 Beverly Hills Beauty
I will start with my current project, a 6,000-square-foot Beverly Hills classic beauty designed by the famous architect Gerard Colcord and built in 1951. My job is to bring the home into the 21st century for a couple and their three small children but retain its old-world (by L.A. standards) grace.
We started the project in April and expect to take a year to complete it. We are raising ceilings, enlarging rooms that didn’t flow well, fixing structural and plumbing problems. In short, we’re gutting the traditional, two-story house, but maintaining such features as a gorgeous 8-foot-wide, floor-to-ceiling brick fireplace in the living room (along with other fireplaces in the house); antique, hand-carved beams; and the outdoor flagstone patio.
Downstairs, we are building a new, up-to-date kitchen that will also have more light in it. The adjoining formal dining room is being turned into a study and play room for the children. The master bedroom suite is being gutted and expanded to include a bathroom with gym and sauna for him (which leads to the swimming pool) and a bathroom with a 400-square-foot walk-in closet for her.
At the other end of the ground floor, we have gutted the old bathroom and laundry room to make an office-powder room-mudroom – with a new door to the backyard. The mudroom will include footlockers for books, shoes and sporting equipment for the children.
On the second floor, the layout has been changed to allow for better flow. One bedroom features a fireplace with Dutch tiles that will remain. A second bedroom has been completely changed and opened up and will be the children’s media and game room. Two more bedrooms, two baths and another room that could be used for a variety of purposes complete the upstairs.
The backyard features an expansive lawn, pool and in-ground spa – along with a stunning open vista of hills – but it drops off to a steep slope. There, we are terracing the slope for a vegetable garden and compost heap.
When all is said and done, the 5-bedroom, 5 ¾-bath home will not only be completely redone on the inside, it will have a new roof, new electrical-heating-air-conditioning, and a new low fence in front with security system.
This project has gone very smoothly. I always work well with the architect, Ward Jewell, who is a fine designer. And the client has been great. And so far, there have been no major surprises – even the bearing beam supporting the second floor that had a split frame from one end to the other has been repaired.
I know this home will be a happy one for the new owners when they move in.