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July 24, 2012

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 Silver Lake. We've featured her work previously in the magazine here. See Part One of the series here, and Part Two here. Part Three: The Finished Product

 

I bought my house in the Silver Lake hills in December 2010, started renovating it the next month, and we moved in in October 2011. Renovation took ten months. I probably could have done it twice as fast if I had pre-planned it out in advance. Instead I did a "shoot from the hip" renovation. I had a big installation going on in the spring (Silent Disco at Sci-Arc) and was very distracted, so the house was sort of my fun recreational project. Still, it was fun to do it this way—more like a couture process than a typical gig. Lots of trying out new things, and changing direction along the way. Here's a peek at the finished product.
 

A new fence made of HardiePanel cladding wraps around the front of the house. I loved how the existing tree shades the driveway, and I wanted to frame it. The paint is a green color called Cabbage Patch, from Benjamin Moore.

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The patio with new wood decking is right off the kitchen, on the shady side of the house. I made the table with Monte Ross and had the bench built in.

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You might remember that the original kitchen was tiny, and the sink faced where this door and window are now with only a small opening to the street. I completely reorganized the room; it now has a casual breakfast area facing the patio, a large island, and a dining area.

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One of the great things about the "bones" of this house was the potential to pull in ample filtered natural light into every room, if the right changes were made. By reconfiguring the kitchen and removing a wall I was able to bring light in on three sides.

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Now the kitchen sink faces the pool and patio.

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Even though the original pool has a great shape, it had some infrastructure issues. Koi had been living in the pool for many years, it had to be resealed to prevent leaking, and the patio surrounding it was cracked and falling apart. Here's what it looks like after it was resealed and surrounded with a smooth new patio.

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The new dining area links the pool patio and the living zone.

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Luckily this house is on a hill and a corner lot. That allowed me to take advantage of two things: the views and the amazing trees that surround the property. The sliding door you see here in the living room used to be a window, and the deck was simply the roof of the lower portion of the house. I gained more space by transforming the roof into a deck with built-in benches and having it open directly to the living room.

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We feel like we are in a tree house up here.

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The main living zones (kitchen, dining, living) are all connected and flow into each other. I like using a mixture of extreme openness in living and communal areas and small-scale coziness in rooms like bedrooms and dens.

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Here's the new stair to the lower level where my teenage daughters have their own rooms. Here you can see the newly revealed and cleaned-up fireplace and the custom tongue-and-groove cedar wall I installed.

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Lastly, here's a panoramic photo I snapped, showing the whole property. From the pool patio we can see downtown and Palos Verdes. The yellow chairs are vintage European designs I bought from the local shop Amsterdam Modern. I snagged about 12 to use all over the outdoor areas—I had to duke it out with the Ace Hotel as they were buying them up, too, at the time!

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swan3 1

A new fence made of HardiePanel cladding wraps around the front of the house. I loved how the existing tree shades the driveway, and I wanted to frame it. The paint is a green color called Cabbage Patch, from Benjamin Moore.

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