Atomic Ranch - - BUDGET BUSTERS -


Year built: 1963

Orig­i­nal Ar­chi­tect/Builder: Bev­erly (David) Thorne

Lo­ca­tion: San Rafael, Cal­i­for­nia Project length: 4 months Bed­rooms: 4

Bath­rooms: 2


Cord and Al­fonso brought in state-of-the-art ap­pli­ances from Miele in­clud­ing a dish­washer, fridge/freezer, is­land hood, in­duc­tion cook­top and oven. “I think they were maybe above our bud­get … but we like cook­ing so it was worth it,” Cord ad­mits. While the metal kitchen cab­i­nets were reused, the strip­ping and re­fin­ish­ing had to be com­pleted by an auto body shop that set up a work space on site at the house. This cost more than ex­pected, but the high-qual­ity fin­ish turned out beau­ti­fully. The home’s rel­a­tively large lot was an­other un­ex­pected ex­pense, re­quir­ing ex­ten­sive up­keep. “It’s al­most one acre, and I think this is where we spent way more time and money than we ex­pected,” Cord shares.


Be­ing an ar­chi­tect, Cord was able to co­or­di­nate the ren­o­va­tion and took on some projects him­self. “When it was too ex­pen­sive, we would just see what we could re­ally con­trib­ute,” says Cord. To save on the bud­get, he pur­chased the backsplash glass and cut the pieces in their on­site “body shop,” which helped with fumes and pro­vided an al­most dust-free en­vi­ron­ment. To en­sure that no green tint was vis­i­ble in the fin­ished prod­uct, he used an ex­tremely clear glass from Starfire Glass. Af­ter us­ing a spe­cial back-paint to pre­pare the area, he in­stalled the glass pieces to create a stun­ning backsplash.


A Nutone in­ter­com sys­tem from the 1960s cre­ated a truly unique look but was no longer work­ing. Not want­ing to lose such a spe­cific orig­i­nal de­tail, Cord found two more sim­i­lar Nutone mod­els on eBay. Even­tu­ally he lo­cated some­one to re­store the sys­tem, and the re­pair­man used all three mod­els to create one work­ing in­ter­com. The sys­tem runs through­out the home, and fix­ing the cen­tral unit made all other in­ter­coms func­tion prop­erly. Not only can you use the in­ter­com and ra­dio, but you can now con­nect your phone.


Orig­i­nal to the home, the cop­per ra­di­ant heat­ing sys­tem was still func­tion­ing well, but it re­quired Cord and his team to do ex­tra plan­ning. Be­fore any drilling, it was im­per­a­tive to lo­cate the cop­per pipes. To com­bat the heat­ing loops, they used in­frared on a cold day to de­cide where to po­si­tion cab­i­nets.

To re­fin­ish the metal cab­i­nets, a shop was set up on site.

Parts from three Nutone in­ter­coms were used to create one work­ing cen­tral unit.



In­frared cap­tured the home’s orig­i­nal sys­tem of ra­di­ant heat­ing loops.

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