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a 1960’s traCt HoMe eVoLVes into a CLassiC beaCH retreat For a neW generation
WRITTEN BY: DEANNA WHIPP
In the late 1940s, a housing shortage forced developers to search the open countryside for vacant land. Areas east of the beach in Manhattan, Redondo and parts of South and west torrance were ripe for these new developments and many of those original homes still stand. today, as new homebuyers settle into South Bay living, those original tract homes offer a much more affordable option for those seeking to set down roots in the beach community and the excellent public school systems, however most buyers moving into these older homes know there is work to be done to make them functional for today’s modern family.
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6.29.2012 | SouthBaydigS.com 61
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when terry and Sharon bought their home twelve years ago, they knew what they were getting into: a dated 1960’s tract home that was an original build that needed a vision. its footprint was typical to the style of those affordable homes that went up in the original tract; with 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a living room, kitchen and dining area fulfilling the needs of the family. the bedrooms were small, the bathrooms basic and the large front and backyards offered flat, wide, open grassy areas for play & entertainment. the exterior was a stucco-wood combination finished with a soft pastel paint color offset by white scalloped wood trim accents. when these homes were built, there were no trees, and all the tract houses looked the same, but no one seemed to mind. the suburbs symbolized everything good that the modern world had to offer. on the whole, the home conformed nicely to the 1960’s suburban tract that met the intent of the original developers and homeowners. in 1996, terry and Sharon purchased the home at a value and planned to make changes to bring it up to date.
to take shape.” what came from that first meeting was a design based on a rock and a memory. while visiting the home, a small, non-descript family photo hanging on the wall in narrow hallway between the tiny bedrooms called out to nuné. it depicted Sharon’s mother-in-law holding their second child. it was taken at the family’s favorite vacation home in hawaii and it became very apparent that family history and culture was important to terry and Sharon. it hit the architect that what he needed to give this family was a hawaiian style home that would embrace their roots yet function for them now and into the future. having the habit of constantly researching new and different building materials, nuné instinctively knew of a certain hawaiian lava rock that would literally make the perfect cornerstone of the newly revamped home. he set to work on a design. the end result expanded the single level, 1,600 sf home into a 2,600 sf house that reached deep into the lot, utilizing the land to expand the indoor living space
functional layout. the large kitchen had somehow adopted the washer/dryer space, a home office area and the storage areas for dry goods as well as soccer balls and cleats. nunè believes in combining efficiencies, taking advantage of every space as it’s needed to offer multiple purposes so that each room functions as needed throughout the day. the new design combined a long, family desk area alongside the utility and laundry area as well as an organized mudroom space, freeing up the kitchen to adapt to a much more contemporary work flow. a good portion of the rear of the house was removed to open up the master bedroom, with its existing bathroom that featured a single sink, a commode and a shower stall. the design allowed for the expansion of the bathroom into a contemporary master bath with his & hers vanities, a private water closet, and a full bath with walk-in shower. the real bonus? the large walk-in closet that Sharon says was the answer to the hodge-podge of mis-matched furniture that originally
the house now breathes with new light; it even has a new heart. If you listen carefully, you may even hear it whisper,
the couple first set to an updating project after they bought the home, and that initial project made it livable for the young family. as their family grew, so did the increased need for better functionality of the rooms and floor-plan. the dilemma was that the family loved the neighborhood. it met their needs perfectly. moving was not an option. revamping the home to make it work for their lifestyle was the best plan, so the couple embarked on a project that would turn their tired house into a home that was as much a part of the family as the people who lived in it. after interviewing many potential contractors and designers, it was recommended to them by a representative at one Stop windows that the couple contact nuné nitsiotis, president/director of design at Studio Synergy, inc. based in redondo Beach. terry and Sharon instantly connected with nuné, and together they settled on an idea that would ultimately create a home that reached deep into their family roots, yet was contemporary and new. when the architect first met with terry and Sharon to determine the scope of the project, the couple knew they wanted a better home, but they weren’t sure of just what it was they wanted. nuné interviewed the family extensively, learning how they lived in their home; what worked for them and what frustrated them. “my goal is to deliver a product that suits the lifestyle of the client. i look to the story of who they are for the design solution without compromising the outdoor space. a covered lanai became the heart of the home, and the design ensured that the flow of the home always came back to that place of connection. all major living spaces, as well as the master bedroom, focus on the lanai. removing the standard front window off the living room of the original tract home design and opening a wall of windows drew the light from the front of the lot through the home and into the lanai. adding a front porch made of rich, dark mahogany carried the theme of the casual hawaiian home, with their customary wooden front decks. and that lava rock, a manufactured stone called mauKa (“m • ow • ka”), named after the lava flow it came from, an almost undeliverable stone made only in hawaii, proudly adorns the front of the home with a warm, welcoming “aloha”. one of the challenges of the original floor-plan was the tiny bedrooms. terry and Sharon’s two young children shared one room while using the other for toys and homework. the thoughtful design took advantage of the “dead space” of the tight hallway. By opening the home’s living space and moving walls to utilize the hallway space, the two secondary rooms opened up. there was now enough space for larger closets and even built in desk space for the children. each child now could enjoy the privacy and comfort of their own room. another challenge was to unravel the awkward spaces of the home and lay them out into a streamlined dominated their main bedroom. that same small “master” with its convenient spare bath evolved into a true master suite, complete with a shared bathroom environment that works for a modern couple, and a very private and intimate patio area where the parents can retreat for some much deserved quiet time. the rest of the back of the house was converted into the open and welcoming lanai. Studio Synergy also addressed the property’s landscape. the theme of the tropical retreat was blended into the very last details, utilizing native california coastal plants, grasses and flowers while introducing others with a tropical flair; elephant ear, Kentia palms, plumeria, hibiscus and giant Birds of paradise tied it all together. terry, Sharon, and their kids needed a home they could live in really well. one that would fit everything they desired without needing a new home. when asked for the secret to a successful remodel, the couple emphatically believes that the partnership with the design team is key. Between the original architectural design, their contractor, roy morimoto, and their interior designer, tanya padgett of creative designs, the family now has a home that not only suits them, but pays homage to a family heritage and the laid back lifestyle they enjoy as part of South Bay living. the house now breathes with new light; it even has a new heart. if you listen carefully, you may even hear it whisper, mahalo.
SouthBaydigS.com | 6.29.2012