Dwell: Before & After: A Los Angeles Home Gets a Dazzling Makeover—and Hits the Market for $1.7M

By Mandi Keighran, from Dwell

It’s not always easy to spot untapped potential in real estate. When a couple with two children bought a haphazardly renovated home in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, there were few existing elements that were particularly inspiring—but they did like the location at the end of a cul de sac, the existing kidney-shaped pool, and the views toward the foothills.

It would take a strong vision to adapt the property into a bright and open family home—and an eye-opening renovation by Part Office helped realize that potential.

The original home was built in 1963, however it has none of the qualities, details, or materiality associated with the midcentury period. "It was a quintessential, nondistinctive suburban Los Angeles home, and we were careful not to associate it with any particular style or period," say the architects. "This project was focused on the spatial potential within the existing house, and its construction was the precedent."

The original home was built in 1963, however it has none of the qualities, details, or materiality associated with the midcentury period. “It was a quintessential, nondistinctive suburban Los Angeles home, and we were careful not to associate it with any particular style or period,” say the architects. “This project was focused on the spatial potential within the existing house, and its construction was the precedent.”

Photography by Sam Wadieh

One of the homeowners is an art dealer who sought an airy space for displaying art. The other is a keen cook who prioritized a state-of-the-art chef’s kitchen that would also serve as the communal heart of the home.

The couple approached Part Office to undertake a full renovation that entailed opening up the ground-level family room, expanding the kitchen, and introducing better light and connection to the outdoor area. “The existing house was very challenging,” recalls architect Kristin Korven, co-founder of Part Office. “It was compact, dark, and had been renovated over the years resulting in a series of disconnected spaces fitted with a bricolage of materials void of any intention.”

Before: Living Room

The original living room felt small and cut off from the rest of the home due to the central stair, which obstructed views through the space.

The original living room felt small and cut off from the rest of the home due to the central stair, which obstructed views through the space.

Photo courtesy Part Office

The ground floor—which contains a bedroom with an en-suite bath and the kitchen, dining, and living areas—received the most dramatic update. The existing stair blocked views to the backyard, so the design team focused on reorganizing the layout. “It was our desire to transform the staircase from the most obtrusive element to the most sculptural, celebrating its illogical form and important function connecting all levels of the home,” says Kaplon.

The brick fireplace had been painted a dark red, making it an overbearing feature in the small room. The dark timber floor also made the space feel smaller.

The brick fireplace had been painted a dark red, making it an overbearing feature in the small room. The dark timber floor also made the space feel smaller.

Photo courtesy Part Office

After: Living Room

Part Office replaced the dark timber floor with an imported Italian terrazzo floor by Marmi Scala. The bright, reflective surface unifies the ground floor in a gallery-style manner. "We were interested in a mix of high and low materials inspired by the clients’ interests," says Jeff Kaplon, cofounder of Part Office.

Part Office replaced the dark timber floor with an imported Italian terrazzo floor by Marmi Scala. The bright, reflective surface unifies the ground floor in a gallery-style manner. “We were interested in a mix of high and low materials inspired by the clients’ interests,” says Jeff Kaplon, cofounder of Part Office.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

The brick fireplace was been converted to an easy gas connection, and the brickwork has been painted white to visually unify the space and make it appear brighter. Spotlights replace the old downlights, allowing the clients to highlight artwork in the gallery-like space.

The brick fireplace was been converted to an easy gas connection, and the brickwork has been painted white to visually unify the space and make it appear brighter. Spotlights replace the old downlights, allowing the clients to highlight artwork in the gallery-like space.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

After: Stair

The sculptural staircase is crafted from plywood, which features a lapped detail for ease of installation. Existing structural elements—such as the columns—are exposed to reveal what the architects call "the mechanics of the renovation."

The sculptural staircase is crafted from plywood, which features a lapped detail for ease of installation. Existing structural elements—such as the columns—are exposed to reveal what the architects call “the mechanics of the renovation.”

Photography by Sam Wadieh

The new, plywood-clad staircase has a sculptural form that evokes the mind-bending lithographic prints of M.C. Escher. It leads to the kids’ bedrooms and the shared bathroom on the second floor, and a renovated main bedroom with a new en-suite bath on the top floor. The lower-level steps also feature an integrated shoe storage cabinet. A new window at the top of the stair on the third floor and a skylight in the dining room ensure natural light cascades down the stairs throughout the day.

Before: Kitchen

The original kitchen was dated, with mismatched appliances and dark timber cabinetry that matched the timber floor in the living area.

The original kitchen was dated, with mismatched appliances and dark timber cabinetry that matched the timber floor in the living area.

Photo courtesy Part Office

After: Kitchen

The sleek, European-style galley kitchen features Fisher & Paykel and Bosch appliances and Caesarstone counters, with more affordable laminate cabinetry. The addition of a large picture window between the rear of the kitchen and the kitchen island marks the the extension. "While the terrazzo flooring was one of the most expensive materials, it was offset by the plywood accents and laminate kitchen," says Kaplon. "We were also careful to detail items simply, so that they would be fabricated and constructed simply by the team on-site."

The sleek, European-style galley kitchen features Fisher & Paykel and Bosch appliances and Caesarstone counters, with more affordable laminate cabinetry. The addition of a large picture window between the rear of the kitchen and the kitchen island marks the the extension. “While the terrazzo flooring was one of the most expensive materials, it was offset by the plywood accents and laminate kitchen,” says Kaplon. “We were also careful to detail items simply, so that they would be fabricated and constructed simply by the team on-site.”

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Part Office flipped the kitchen to a new location on the other side of the dining area, and added a small extension to square it off. This created a much larger dining/living area, with a new sliding door that opens to the kidney-shaped pool.

Part Office introduced plywood as an affordable way to counteract the formality of the new terrazzo floor and introduce a warmer, casual, residential element throughout. "We still treated it with great respect, and selected the exact sheets and specific order to install them after reviewing dozens of sheets," say the architects. "We also detailed them all in a way that expressed their character—for example, exposing the edges of the sheets and using their thickness as a module for the millwork."

Part Office introduced plywood as an affordable way to counteract the formality of the new terrazzo floor and introduce a warmer, casual, residential element throughout. “We still treated it with great respect, and selected the exact sheets and specific order to install them after reviewing dozens of sheets,” say the architects. “We also detailed them all in a way that expressed their character—for example, exposing the edges of the sheets and using their thickness as a module for the millwork.”

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Before: Dining Room

The dining room was originally situated between the kitchen and a small sitting room. The space was slightly awkward and didn’t allow for easy circulation or gathering. 

The dining room was originally situated between the kitchen and a small sitting room. The space was slightly awkward and didn’t allow for easy circulation or gathering.

Photo courtesy Part Office

After: Dining Room

The dining area now features a vaulted timber ceiling that adds height to the space, and sliding glass doors that open to the pool. Exposing the roof structure helps to define different spaces within the open plan.

The dining area now features a vaulted timber ceiling that adds height to the space, and sliding glass doors that open to the pool. Exposing the roof structure helps to define different spaces within the open plan.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

The dining room and kitchen sit at the heart of the ground floor, offering an ideal gathering space. “We introduced three sets of identical sliding doors based on an original set that opens from the living/dining area and lower guest bedroom/office space to the pool and a small rear patio in order to activate these spaces,” says Korven. “When open, the exterior spaces become an extension of these family rooms.”

Before: Bedrooms

The ground-floor bedroom was originally the primary bedroom. It opens up to the patio through glass doors.

The ground-floor bedroom was originally the primary bedroom. It opens up to the patio through glass doors.

Photo courtesy Part Office

The original bedroom on the top floor.

The original bedroom on the top floor.

Photo courtesy Part Office

One of the two bedrooms on the first floor, which featured a dark-red carpet.

One of the two bedrooms on the first floor, which featured a dark-red carpet.

After: Bedrooms

The ground-floor bedroom is now a guest bedroom/study that opens out to the garden.

The ground-floor bedroom is now a guest bedroom/study that opens out to the garden.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

The top level now holds the primary bedroom and it en-suite bath. Picture windows frame views of the nearby mountains.

The top level now holds the primary bedroom and it en-suite bath. Picture windows frame views of the nearby mountains.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Two additional bedrooms are located on the second floor, which also overlooks the gallery space on the ground floor.

Two additional bedrooms are located on the second floor, which also overlooks the gallery space on the ground floor.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Before: Bathrooms

Part office removed the full bathroom on the ground floor, with its dated pink tiles, and replaced it with a small, emerald-green powder room to allow more space for the kitchen and living areas.

Part office removed the full bathroom on the ground floor, with its dated pink tiles, and replaced it with a small, emerald-green powder room to allow more space for the kitchen and living areas.

Photo courtesy Part Office

After: Bathrooms

The two bedrooms on the first floor share a bathroom, which features a timber vanity, modern lighting, and a tub with a shower.

The two bedrooms on the first floor share a bathroom, which features a timber vanity, modern lighting, and a tub with a shower.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Part Office left the layout of the bathrooms largely unchanged—apart from replacing the full bathroom on the ground floor with a smaller powder room. However each bath did receive a complete makeover, with sleek tiles and minimal vanity units. “The budget was limited, so we utilized as much of the home’s existing structure as possible so as to not incur major foundation or framing costs,” reveals Korven.

The primary bedroom en suite on the top floor features an oversized shower and powder-blue floor tiles that are offset by the simple cabinetry and white wall tiles.

The primary bedroom en suite on the top floor features an oversized shower and powder-blue floor tiles that are offset by the simple cabinetry and white wall tiles.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

Before: Backyard & Pool

The living area opens to a covered entertaining patio that allows the residents to enjoy al fresco dining and the warm California weather. This is one of the few elements that remained unchanged during the renovation. In fact, the architects emphasized this feature through the addition of a new sliding glass door (that mirrors the existing one) to create a pleasing symmetry in the home.

The living area opens to a covered entertaining patio that allows the residents to enjoy al fresco dining and the warm California weather. This is one of the few elements that remained unchanged during the renovation. In fact, the architects emphasized this feature through the addition of a new sliding glass door (that mirrors the existing one) to create a pleasing symmetry in the home.

Photo courtesy Part Office

The existing pool is one of the features that originally attracted the owners to the property.

The existing pool is one of the features that originally attracted the owners to the property.

Photo courtesy Part Office

After: Backyard & Pool

The outdoor areas weren’t dramatically altered during the renovation—Part Office simply cleaned them up and worked on repairs where necessary.

The outdoor areas weren’t dramatically altered during the renovation—Part Office simply cleaned them up and worked on repairs where necessary.

Photography by Sam Wadieh

The original home had many challenges, so the architects sought to create a meaningful dialogue between disparate elements, and to establish a continuous narrative.

“Working with a very challenging set of existing conditions and a limited budget, we were initially concerned that our scope of work would be difficult to accomplish,” says Kaplon. “By embracing and celebrating some of the largest obstacles, we found that this attitude toward the existing ambiguity would help us design other aspects of the project as well.”

"The renovated home provides a much more open family space, oriented around the pool and kitchen," say the architects. "We felt the project was very successful in achieving visual connectivity between spaces—both in plan and in section."

“The renovated home provides a much more open family space, oriented around the pool and kitchen,” say the architects. “We felt the project was very successful in achieving visual connectivity between spaces—both in plan and in section.”

Photography by Sam Wadieh

4801 Lockhaven Avenue in Eagle Rock, Los Angeles, California, is offered by Courtney Poulos of Acme Real Estate for $1,699,000.

More from Part Office:

An Electric Blue Addition Punches Up a 1930s Bungalow in L.A. 

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Part Office / @part_office

Builder: Behr Construction

Lighting Design: Part Office

Interior Design: Part Office

Cabinetry Design: Part Office

Cabinetry Installation: Behr Construction 

Stylist: Francesca Grace

Photographer: Sam Wadieh

 

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