Home Projects

Before & After: A Sensitive Midcentury Renovation

published Jun 30, 2015
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(Image credit: Dwell)

Let’s say you’ve just bought a beautiful midcentury home, a little gem designed by famed architect A. Quincy Jones. You want to go about fixing it up, making it right for a modern lifestyle, but you also want to be respectful of the things that make this particular house unique. That was the challenge faced by architect Bruce Norelius and his partner, Landis Green, recent transplants to California, in remodeling their Brentwood home.

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(Image credit: Dwell)

Even though the house is only 1,200 square feet, it has a spacious feel thanks to its strong connection to the outdoors. Bruce and Landis made the decision not to move any of the walls, but they did replace some of the “really sad plywood,” and stripped off layers of paint to reveal the natural color and texture of the wood beams and concrete block. This gives the interior of the home a bit of a darker feel, but Bruce says he finds the darker palette comforting — and the light streaming from the windows, newly freed of their heavy curtains, more than makes up for the lack.

(Image credit: Dwell)
(Image credit: Dwell)

The biggest changes to the house were in the kitchen. Although the new oiled-steel cabinets and marble backsplash are a wonderful complement to the palette of the rest of the house, they’re not materials that the original architect would have chosen. Bruce felt that it was important to keep the house true to Jones’ original vision, but he also felt that “he designed these houses to be living things. They’re not museums, and though I don’t want to change the bones, this isn’t a historical restoration.”

A house, after, isn’t a time capsule: almost every house, except for especially significant ones that have intentionally been preserved exactly as they are, grows and evolves and changes along with the needs of the people who live there. And that’s a beautiful thing.

You can read more about the renovation, and see more photos, on Dwell.