DIY Projects Saved This Mid-Century Modern House From Bad ’90s Updates

published Nov 29, 2022

DIY Projects Saved This Mid-Century Modern House From Bad ’90s Updates

published Nov 29, 2022
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Name: Dylan Odbert, wife Jess Odbert, kiddo Waylon, and pup
Location: San Clemente, California
Type of Home: 1957 house
Size: 1,450 square feet
Years lived in: 2.5 years, owned

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Dylan and Jess Odbert’s house in San Clemente was built in 1957 and designed by architect Chris Abel as a mid-century, post-and-beam home. But, Dylan says that in the 1990s or 2000s the previous homeowners “attempted to convert it into a Spanish villa. We bought our home in late 2019, and there was plastering over the original brick fireplace, Saltillo tiles throughout the entire home, and many of the apex windows were closed off,” explains Dylan, who is a designer, illustrator, and the co-founder and creative director of apparel company, ambsn.

“About an hour after receiving the keys to the home, I had torn up all of the Saltillo tiles, and within a couple of months the home was transformed back to its original glory with some much needed updates. We’ve actually been renovating ever since, but I really wanted to at least get the home back to its original skeleton before we moved in, since we had a one-year-old at the time and it needed a lot of heavy construction.” 

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Mid-Century Modern

Inspiration: Joseph Eichler, Cliff May

Favorite Element: The fireplace. It was originally stuccoed with a painted wood mantel and Saltillo harth. I padded out the wall with metal studs and hardy board, then faced it with concrete cap blocks and used mahogany in place of grout. I formed and lightly polished a concrete hearth, then wrapped the bottom of the hearth with acid and beeswaxed copper, then framed the fireplace opening in the same. I feel like it is the heart of the house.

Biggest Challenge: When we bought the house, all of the archways were flat and low, so my dad and I installed a 30 foot I-beam. That eliminated two large walls and opened up the living room. 

What Friends Say: “You did all this yourself?!”

Biggest Embarrassment: I was going to build my own concrete sink and countertop in our guest bathroom last year. The walls where we wanted to mount it met at an odd angle, so the shape was strange and it had to be really precise. I had formed it up and made sure the form fit the wall perfectly before I poured the concrete, and then waited two weeks for it to fully dry only to find out I poured it upside down and the whole thing was backwards. I had been showing the whole process to friends, family, and documenting on social media because I was so excited about it, only to find we couldn’t even use it. I was too deflated to go back and try again. 

Credit: Diana Paulson

Proudest DIY: My wife’s closet. The contractor we hired to do the cabinetry fell ill, so I took it upon myself to build out her closet. I had a local cabinet shop build the cabinet box and drawers and I faced them in walnut. It took a lot of patience and precision, and it ended up turning out really great. 

Biggest Indulgence: Our front door from Pivot Door Company, also one of our favorite pieces in the house. It was surprisingly delivered by FedEx — I have to give the delivery guy a shoutout since he unexpectedly had to help me roll a 700-pound door up my driveway. 

Best Advice: Do as much as you can by yourself, and when you start a remodel, I recommend doing low-cost but high-impact projects first. For example, our concrete floors. After getting all of the old flooring up, I watched a few YouTube videos and spent three or four days grinding and polishing our floors. I feel like it instantly transformed our house.



  •  Interior walls — Valspar “Bright White”
  • Interior accent wall — Valspar
  • Interior / Exterior Beams — Valspar
  • Exterior Paint — Valspar Custom Green
Credit: Diana Paulson





  • Refrigerator — Sub Zero
  • Stove — Viking
  • Dishwasher — Bosch
  • Kitchen Hood — Built by my dad, Garry Odbert
  • Stainless Steel countertops — Built by my dad, Garry Odbert
  • Custom Cabinets — Local carpenter
  • Flooring Venice Terrazo Alabster Large Chip — Concrete Collaborative
  • Pendent Lights — All Modern
  • Muuto Barstools — Muuto
  • Paintings — Waylon Blue Odbert (my son)
  • Curved white vase — Crate and Barrel









Thanks, Dylan and Jess!

This tour’s responses and photos were edited for length/size and clarity.
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