LA House Tour: Gregory's Palm Springs In the Suburbs

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Name: Gregory McKinney
Location: Granada Hills CA
Type: 1960s Contemporary Modern
Size: 3bdr 2 bath 1731 sq ft, one story
Years lived in: since June 2005

Gregory only needed to send a single photo of his Granada Hill's home interior for us to decide that we needed to get out to his pad pronto. Tucked far back in the hills of suburbia, Gregory renovated a typical San Fernando Valley home into a livable homage to the Palm Spring aesthetic, its stylish spirit immediately apparent from first sight of the promising robin's egg blue door with starburst door knobs. It only got better once we stepped through the doors...

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My/our Style: 1960s Contemporary Modern, Palm Springs-inspired.

The Inspiration for my home: Architecturally, it was its own inspiration, and wanted to make it as proper to its era as possible. The style was not intended to be hard-core “Modern,” but a livable version of a desert home from the early 60’s. Lots of lava rock and agave distinguish the yard from others on the street.

Favorite element: Architecturally, the front ‘flagcrete’ wall, or the tall windows in the living room/dining room areas.

Biggest challenge in designing my home: Redesigning and rehabbing the yards after 45 years of neglect.

What friends say about my home: “I feel like at my aunt and uncle’s house!”

Biggest embarrassment in my home: The asphalt driveway… the only bad original element.

Proudest DIY: The grass cloth wallpaper. It took a lot of work to select it and install it.

Biggest Indulgence with respect to my home: The landscaping, as it took hundreds of hours of labor and thousands of dollars (and it’s still not done).

Best Advice given or received: Do the hardest/priciest work sooner than later, save the details for last.

Dream Source for stuff: Other homes from the tract. But eBay has been the biggest source.

Resources:

Appliances
Has original Wedgewood & Holly stove and oven (fortunately), but new refrigerator and dishwasher (unfortunately). I want a refurbished refrigerator, which can be found at “Savon Appliances” in Burbank CA.

Hardware
All original cabinet hardware was tossed with a quickie “update” done by former owner, requiring searching for appropriate vintage replacements. This took about a year to accomplish, and is one of my proudest aspects. I know a good ebay seller for this.

Furniture
Makers such as Selig (sofa and two Poulsen “Z” chairs), Overman (swivel chairs), Gunlocke (living room slipper chairs), Lane and Vista (bedroom pieces), and two large console stereos by Zenith and Braun. I refinished virtually all the wooden pieces.

Accessories
A wide assortment of comical owls, fish, ashtrays and candle holders, but mostly vintage wall clocks, and many of them. I restore the clocks and sell them to designers and collectors. I am a restorer of Howard Miller wall clocks from the 1940s-60s.

Lighting
All the sconces and pendant lighting had been trashed before we bought, so I had free reign to do what I wanted. All Home Depot junk was pitched and interesting vintage lighting took its place. I have added some great lighting by Progress, Thomas-Moe and Lightolier with several tension pole lamps ranging from mild to wild. All received new wiring and a new paint or stain when necessary. The lights make the house, inside and out.

Also installed low-volt lighting out front for nice night appeal.

Paint
The entire house got an off-white cover-over before it was sold, so we had a blank slate moving in. The current dominant interior colors are light to dark taupe, with green and gray-blue in two bedrooms. More accent painting is slated.

Flooring
All the flooring was stripped out before moving in, and an interesting linoleum look-alike laminate was installed in the entry and family/dining room. It was largely real linoleum tile previously. I had both baths floored with a wonderful vinyl sheet in taupe squares, and it looks quite vintage.

Rugs and Carpets
Generic tan-taupe carpet was installed by previous owner for sale-appeal. It’s a so-so quality, and will stay as long as it holds up.

Tiles and Stone
The original kitchen tile and bathroom marble counters are all intact, and in decent condition. Kitchen backsplash has wonderful funky blue polka dots all around the perimeter.

Window Treatments
All windows have matching off-white wood blinds in 2” wide strips. Living room and dining room sliding glass doors have simple hand-drawn rod-hung off-white linen curtains.

Beds
Two queen beds; Selig Z chairs in third bedroom which functions as a TV room.

Artwork
Various prints and sculptures, but nothing really expensive or all that collectible… only what works for the space given to it.

Other:
The overall theme is Palm Springs inspired contemporary with California desert landscaping. The front yard is dominated by a monstrous green agave, which is about 20 feet wide and 8 feet tall. It determined the “look” as it was not going anywhere—it is deadly! I have grown to love it and worked around it.

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