Stay­ing True

The ad­di­tion to this 1929 Span­ish Colo­nial is mod­est and seam­less, the up­grades pitch per­fect (tile ev­ery­where!), all thanks to ded­i­cated home­own­ers and their sym­pa­thetic ar­chi­tect.

Old House Journal - - Learn More - BY THOMAS SHESS | PHO­TOS BY LARNY MACK

A prior owner had added a 180-square­foot en­closed sun porch to the rear of the 2,000-square-foot house. Be­sides that small ad­di­tion, the house was orig­i­nal. “Love at first sight!” Su­san re­mem­bers; “the Span­ish fea­tures were all here: stucco, re­cessed arched win­dows, wrought iron, hand-hewn beams, Span­ish dec­o­ra­tive tiles on the fire­place and stair ris­ers, and quar­ter-sawn oak floor­ing.”

The old house needed some mi­nor im­prove­ments to bring it to con­tem­po­rary com­fort. Ini­tially, two small bed­rooms up­stairs shared a bath in the hall. But “we wanted a mas­ter bed­room with its own bath,” Su­san says, “and we needed to up­date and, we hoped, ex­pand the kitchen.” The orig­i­nal kitchen was very small, with the re­frig­er­a­tor kept on the ser­vice porch, where the old ice­box had been.

Su­san and Len also wanted to pre­serve the Span­ish-style house for the fu­ture, by way of gain­ing a his­toric des­ig­na­tion for it. So they needed a rare ar­chi­tect—some- one who would un­der­stand the in­tegrity of the pe­riod house, fol­low his­tor­i­cal guide­lines, and yet make func­tional im­prove­ments.

Their his­tory-minded bro­ker Linda Mar­rone rec­om­mended Ione Stiegler, FAIA, of IS Ar­chi­tec­ture. Her firm has ren­o­vated many his­toric houses in La Jolla and the San Diego area. With a pen­chant for his­toric preser­va­tion, “Ione had a rep­u­ta­tion for sen­si­tiv­ity to pe­riod de­tail,” Su­san says; “she’s a kin­dred spirit.”

Stiegler ac­cepted the chal­lenge. “We had won­der­ful de­sign meet­ings and looked at lots of ‘in­spi­ra­tion’ pho­tos,” says the ar­chi­tect. “It helped that Su­san had re­mod­eled build­ings in the past, had a good grasp of the process, and knew what things she wanted to over­see per­son­ally.”

Smil­ing, Su­san Com­den coun­ters, “That’s nice of Ione to say, but the project, from our first hand­shake, was her baby.”

Right away, they faced their first hur­dle. Al­though this house is eight houses re­moved from the ocean, due to strict coastal reg­u­la­tions, at pur­chase the prop­erty was held to the same re­views as an ocean­front home. They had to ap­ply for a Coastal Devel­op­ment per­mit, which of­ten takes a lot of time to process. But no neigh­bors ob­jected to the de­sign, and the per­mit was granted quickly.

Adding just five feet be­tween the orig­i­nal kitchen and ex­ist­ing garage, Stiegler and as­so­ciate ar­chi­tect Joseph Reid re­con­fig­ured the space. “Most houses of the 1920s and ’30s have kitchens we con­sider too small,” Stiegler says. “We live in our kitchens to­day.”

The clients and ar­chi­tects also de­cided to slightly ex­pand the down­stairs bath, add a sep­a­rate laun­dry room, en­large the up­stairs mas­ter suite—adding a fire­place and mas­ter bath—and up­grade the sun­room ad­di­tion with beamed ceil­ings and arched doors to the pa­tio.

“It was im­por­tant to re­spect the orig­i­nal builder’s for­mal ar­eas, liv­ing and din­ing rooms,” Stiegler says. “Too many own­ers to­day want to tear down all the walls to cre­ate an open liv­ing con­cept that is not in keep­ing with a his­toric house.

The orig­i­nal for­mal ar­eas in the house were left as-built, pay­ing re­spect to the in­ten­tions of the builder and hon­or­ing con­ven­tions of the pe­riod.

For the ex­panded kitchen and in­for­mal din­ing area, we did de­sign an open con­cept. We also min­i­mally en­larged the open­ing be­tween the liv­ing room and the re­built rear porch, for bet­ter flow.”

Most old homes don’t have an en suite mas­ter bed and bath. Stiegler used the old larger bed­room for a new mas­ter bath; with an ad­di­tion over the kitchen, she added a mas­ter bed­room com­plete with a fire­place and an ocean-fac­ing bal­cony.

Su­san Com­den says that no one re­al­izes the house had an ad­di­tion. It’s at the rear and seam­less. “We com­pletely hid the new mass­ing be­hind the ex­ist­ing house,” Stiegler says. “In keep­ing with the Sec­re­tary of the In­te­rior’s Stan­dards for Preser­va­tion, we com­ple­mented but did not ex­actly copy the orig­i­nal: the eave lines are slightly dif­fer­ent on the ad­di­tion.” That be­comes ap­par­ent when it’s noted that the orig­i­nal house has a deep, stuc­coed cor­nice, while the ad­di­tion has wood cor­bels. The ren­o­va­tion added only 400 square feet, bring­ing the to­tal to 2,580. The home’s scale has not changed.

Even with an ad­di­tion, the ar­chi­tects were able to get his­toric des­ig­na­tion for the house. Its of­fi­cial name for the record, af­ter the orig­i­nal own­ers, is the Harold and Maude Brown House. The home­own­ers have also re­ceived the His­toric Preser­va­tion Award from the San Diego His­toric Re­sources Board.

DE­TAILS MARK AD­DI­TIONS Old and new sec­tions merge, but the ar­chi­tect left hints: new ad­di­tions have wood cor­bels rather than the heavy cor­nice. The bed­room bal­cony, cus­tom iron­work by a lo­cal com­pany, was pat­terned on the in­te­rior stair rail.

The large liv­ing room opens to the sun porch, which was added by a pre­vi­ous owner to the rear of the house. Pa­tio ar­eas and the wall be­yond are new.

The kitchen area was ex­panded. Over the range is a dis­play of orig­i­nal Trop­ico tiles (in a field of generic tile). Trop­ico (1920–23), in Glen­dale, was bought out by Gladding McBean, the ce­ram­ics firm founded in 1875.

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