Renovating the Swan House: Part 2

In this three-part series, expanding on our July/August 2012 "Designers at Home" theme, Los Angeles-based architect Barbara Bestor tracks her hands-on, ten-month renovation of the Swan House, a 1950s bungalow in Silverlake. We've featured her work previously in the magazine here. See Part One of the series here. Part Two: Creating a Home


The house I bought on a corner lot in Silver Lake had been in a family for 40 years, but had not had anyone living in it recently. Time had taken its toll but I could see a house that was perfect for a working mother with two almost-teenage daughters. They would have their own "retreat" downstairs, and upstairs would be our shared living/public spaces and an office/master suite for myself.

When I bought the house, I knew I needed to dig out some more space below to make two decent rooms for my daughters. I wanted to completely reconfigure the kitchen and open it up, make a real master bedroom and bath, and change the relationship of the house to the street and to parking. About a month into the design process, I realized I needed to completely change the staircase location and that doing so would help me to improve the kitchen and also the kids' rooms at the lower level. Another month or two in, I realized I could commandeer some of the crawl space and make a proper laundry room and storage area. There was a lot of opportunistic "scope creep" while we went along. Here's a glimpse into my design process and renovation approach.

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