March 28, 2018

A Modern Addition for a Historic Bungalow

  • By: Mitchell Parker, Houzz

This post first appeared on Houzz. Find the original here.

Joel Contreras has always felt torn. He loves historic homes but is also a huge fan of modern design. So when it came time for the real estate agent to design his own house, he thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool if I could combine the two?” A large lot with a 1927 bungalow fit the bill, and after scooping up the property, he set out to restore the original structure and have a modern addition built at the back.

“There was nothing great about the home except the exterior,” Contreras says. Major repairs were needed, including a new roof and updated plumbing, electrical and ductwork. He gutted the original 800-square-foot home, removed a former 120-square-foot addition (the debris of which can be seen here in the foreground) and took off the back wall to connect the home to a new modern addition. “I basically borrowed three and a half walls and rebuilt the rest,” he says.

The restored original home now has a new 800-square-foot addition behind it. Contreras wanted a standing-seam metal roof to go on the entire structure, but historic preservation rules governing the protected home prevented it. Instead, he used a metal roof on the addition and folded it down to create the walls. He added new asphalt shingles to the original home.

Contreras has never taken a design course but has made design his hobby over the past ten years, training his eye by looking at countless photos of homes and experimenting with houses he and his extended family have owned. All told, he’s designed about eight properties now. He’s currently working on one with his mom. “I don’t have a company or anything,” he says. “I just design for myself or when family members want to do something cool.”

For this house he teamed up with Jonah Busick of Foundry 12 for the design and plans.

House at a Glance

Who lives here: Joel and Angie Contreras and their 6-month-old son, Brody

Location: Coronado neighborhood of Phoenix

Size: 1,600 square feet (149 square meters); three bedrooms, two bathrooms; guest house: 585 square feet (54 square meters), one bathroom

Contreras, who is 6-foot-4, removed the 8 1/2-foot ceilings to make the interior feel roomier. In the living room, which the front door opens into, you can see how he removed the attic space to create vaulted ceilings clad in tongue and groove cedar. The ceiling height and pitch are carried 80 feet from the front of the house to the back of the new addition.

He turned a small nook over the front porch into a reading space with cork flooring and a fluffy mattress, accessed by a sliding ladder. “It’s gimicky, but I don’t like wasting square footage,” he says.

Contreras and his family are still in the process of furnishing the house. At the moment the pieces are a mix of his own items and things he’s borrowed from friends. The floors are original red oak that he stained a walnut tone to match the cabinetry in the kitchen. All the windows are original.

A slim skylight connects the old and new structures. This feature is on only one side of the house because having it on the other side would have brought a sliver of light into the master bedroom and disrupted the TV screen.

Here’s the beginning of the 800-square-foot addition, which contains the kitchen, the master suite to the right, and a small second living area at the end. Each side opens to patio space via large custom steel and glass pivot doors.

The floor is a custom aggregate. “I call it the poor man’s terrazzo,” Contreras says. He couldn’t find an aggregate mix with white rock in it, so he arrived the day the slab was poured—fighting the flu, no less—and had a 30-minute window to throw crushed white marble rock he picked up at a store over the aggregate blend. After it dried, the floor was ground down an eighth of an inch to expose the rock.

The master suite has a private patio. Moroccan-patterned tiles cover the wall inside and out.

A large skylight and wall of windows flood the master bathroom with natural light. A large floating concrete double sink defines the vanity area.

A cedar half fence hugs a patio extension where Contreras can put a few chairs and a fire pit so he can mingle out front with passing neighbors. A board-formed concrete wall sits in front of a purple orchid tree. The hardscaping is decomposed granite.

Contreras added steel bracing inside the barn for stability so he could turn the structure into a guesthouse. He also added brick over the 80-year-old concrete slab floor to make it look like something you might have seen around the time of the barn’s construction.

Historic preservation restrictions prevented Contreras from punching windows in the structure but allowed him a couple of skylights. To capture some of that light and bring it to the first floor, he added a steel grate over the kitchenette that can be walked on.

The gable roof continues into a steel slat patio cover. Contreras says he consulted with a few people about how the metal would perform in the intense Phoenix summers.

Contreras says there are people in the neighborhood who don’t exactly like what he’s done to the home, but that most of the response has been positive. In fact, he says, the state preservation board has reached out to him about submitting the project for a governor’s award.

Al Beadle: An Under-the Radar Midcentury Modernist in Phoenix

Most of the national attention paid to historic architecture in Phoenix goes (understandably) to Frank Lloyd Wright. But the city had other important architects during the 20th century, including Al Beadle, a pioneer of desert Modernism. Beadle didn’t actually attend architecture school; instead, he learned construction during his service with the U.S. Navy’s Seabees during World War II. He arrived in Phoenix after the war and soon became a coveted designer of sleekly Modern homes, offices, restaurants, hotels, and apartment buildings.

By: Mitchell Parker, Houzz

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