written by:
March 8, 2012

When Joe Borst saw an affordable bungalow in a Marina del Ray neighborhood filled with either condos or mansions, he knew he found a perfect place for him and his girlfriend Maria Torres to live in. The home was rundown due to poor maintenance on the part of its previous owners with unfinished additions and obviously haphazard renovations to boot.

Borst enlisted longtime friend Robert Sweet to re-imagine the space within a tight budget. “I just wanted good, open space, easy floor plan,” says Borst. “I gave him a lot of autonomy because I am very busy and I knew he would do fantastic work. He had free reign on style and creativeness.” 

Sweet gave the home a modern, eco-friendly makeover and enlarged the feel of the home without adding to the footprint by renovating the home with an open floor plan and designing outdoor “rooms.” Here’s a look at what Sweet dealt with and how it all turned out.

Designer <a href="http://www.ras-a.com">Robert Sweet</a> designed this renovation of a mid-century bungalow in Marina del Rey, California.
Designer Robert Sweet designed this renovation of a mid-century bungalow in Marina del Rey, California.
1 / 13
Originally built in 1952, this bungalow in Marina del Ray showed its age. The owners had deferred a lot of maintenance, which caused the home to suffer.
<br /><br />
Despite the car parked in front, the city had long since mandated cars to be parked behin
Originally built in 1952, this bungalow in Marina del Ray showed its age. The owners had deferred a lot of maintenance, which caused the home to suffer. Despite the car parked in front, the city had long since mandated cars to be parked behind the home, leaving this front cemented area without use.
2 / 13
The car entrance has since moved to the back of the property. This entrance was also used to access the backyard of the home.
The car entrance has since moved to the back of the property. This entrance was also used to access the backyard of the home.
3 / 13
The previous homeowners had taken the effort to get the necessary permits to build a new structure where the freestanding garage once stood. They demolished the existing garage and stripped down, but ran out of money to complete the project. “It was kind
The previous homeowners had taken the effort to get the necessary permits to build a new structure where the freestanding garage once stood. They demolished the existing garage and stripped down, but ran out of money to complete the project. “It was kind of like this graveyard of a garage that they wanted to build,” says Sweet. Weeds were already growing where the previous owners had wanted to put the foundation.
4 / 13
The original floor plan of the home subdivided the interior into small areas, making the 1,124-square-foot space feel even more cramped. A galley-style kitchen is evident beyond the living area. The hallway just past the living room leads to two bedrooms
The original floor plan of the home subdivided the interior into small areas, making the 1,124-square-foot space feel even more cramped. A galley-style kitchen is evident beyond the living area. The hallway just past the living room leads to two bedrooms and two bathrooms.
5 / 13
Instead of spending more money to cut up the original cement and haul it away, Sweet punched holes in the ground and added plants that will soon grow to four or five feet tall, creating an outdoor sculpture of sorts. “It was a cost-effective and eco-frien
Instead of spending more money to cut up the original cement and haul it away, Sweet punched holes in the ground and added plants that will soon grow to four or five feet tall, creating an outdoor sculpture of sorts. “It was a cost-effective and eco-friendly way of transforming the driveway without having to do a lot of stuff to it,” says Sweet.
6 / 13
Behind the house, Sweet built a garage. He pushed the original wall back to make room for more parking spaces outdoors. Instead of two cars, Borst could now park up to four cars. Sweet also installed permeable pavers so water percolates into the ground in
Behind the house, Sweet built a garage. He pushed the original wall back to make room for more parking spaces outdoors. Instead of two cars, Borst could now park up to four cars. Sweet also installed permeable pavers so water percolates into the ground instead of being washed into stormdrains.
7 / 13
Sweet recycled the slabs from the garage “graveyard” into this outdoor meditation garden, which steps up to the outdoor dining area, which Borst and Torres use almost every day for dining.
Sweet recycled the slabs from the garage “graveyard” into this outdoor meditation garden, which steps up to the outdoor dining area, which Borst and Torres use almost every day for dining.
8 / 13
Inside, Sweet removed all the divisions of the home and inverted the original plan, so that all public spaces would face the backyard, now the primary outdoor space. He installed a permeable desk arer/entertainment center, which screens off the living fro
Inside, Sweet removed all the divisions of the home and inverted the original plan, so that all public spaces would face the backyard, now the primary outdoor space. He installed a permeable desk arer/entertainment center, which screens off the living from the bedrooms without hampering the flow of the space. There are four operable skylights in the home, which open up to receive sunlight, fresh air, and cool breezes from the outside, obviating the need for air-conditioning.
9 / 13
Sweet kept the kitchen renovation within budget by mixing Ikea cabinetry with custom plywood touches. The money they saved went into a nicer countertop and sink.
He also maintained the home’s informal feel (and saved space) by using the bar area for infor
Sweet kept the kitchen renovation within budget by mixing Ikea cabinetry with custom plywood touches. The money they saved went into a nicer countertop and sink. He also maintained the home’s informal feel (and saved space) by using the bar area for informal dining, while moving the more formal dining space outside to the deck.
10 / 13
In the master bedroom, Sweet installed a row of custom cabinets that take the place of a wall. While acting as a barrier between the bedroom and the hallway outside, the cabinets also stopped a few inches below the ceiling so as not to completely block of
In the master bedroom, Sweet installed a row of custom cabinets that take the place of a wall. While acting as a barrier between the bedroom and the hallway outside, the cabinets also stopped a few inches below the ceiling so as not to completely block off the space. The room also has its own access to the meditation garden outside.
11 / 13
In the guest bathroom, Sweet had the cabinets, vanity, and doors custom-made.
In the guest bathroom, Sweet had the cabinets, vanity, and doors custom-made.
12 / 13
In the bathrooms, Sweet used a mirror to enlarge the feel of the space. They kept the costs minimal by using Grohe bath fixtures and an Ikea sink.<br /><br /><p><em><strong>Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our </strong></em><a href="http://itunes.appl
In the bathrooms, Sweet used a mirror to enlarge the feel of the space. They kept the costs minimal by using Grohe bath fixtures and an Ikea sink.

Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!

13 / 13
Designer <a href="http://www.ras-a.com">Robert Sweet</a> designed this renovation of a mid-century bungalow in Marina del Rey, California.
Designer Robert Sweet designed this renovation of a mid-century bungalow in Marina del Rey, California.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

young guns 2016 emerging talent thom fougere winnipeg canada cthom fougere studio thom fougere saddle chair 2
Designer Thom Fougere plays with scale and typology to create playful furniture.
May 25, 2016
prs my16 0067 v001 1
In the worlds of architecture and design, we’re always looking for the best ways of supporting sustainable building practices. This awareness doesn’t have to stop at our driveways but rather, it can extend to the cars we choose to take us to the places we go each day. With Toyota’s 2016 Prius, the daily task of getting from point A to point B can now be experienced with a new level of efficiency, safety, and style.
May 25, 2016
mountfordarchitects western australia
On a narrow site in Western Australia, Mountford Architects makes the most of a tight spot—with an eye to the future.
May 25, 2016
San Francisco living room with Wassily chairs
Materials and furniture transformed the layout of this San Francisco house, without the need for dramatic structural intervention.
May 24, 2016
shiver me timbers tallow wood kitchen
A pair of married architects put their exacting taste to work on their own family escape in the Australian bush.
May 24, 2016
in the balance small space massachusetts cantilevered cabin glass facade
When nature laid down a boulder of a design challenge in the Massachusetts mountains, an architect’s solution elevated the project to new heights.
May 24, 2016
Wooden Walkways
A home in Ontario, Canada, demonstrates how factory-built housing can be as site sensitive as traditional construction.
May 24, 2016
15 icff 5
From Corian furniture to immersive installations, here are some of our favorite designs we saw at the 2016 shows.
May 24, 2016
gpphoto44
A home and community celebrate natural remove in unison.
May 24, 2016
With our annual issue devoted to the outdoors on newsstands, we did a lap of Instagram for some extra inspiration.
May 23, 2016
forest for the trees english prefab mobile home facade chesnut cladding
On the edge of a historic park in an English shire, a prefabricated home sets a new design standard.
May 23, 2016
tread lightly australia
A family home on Australia’s Mornington Peninsula is built to blend in with its lakeside setting.
May 23, 2016
jardins party dining room hay chairs local wood floor
A pair of architects help a client carve out an oasis of calm amid São Paulo’s bustle.
May 23, 2016
hwm6zf 1
No matter where you're located or what time of the year it is, having a fireplace in your home is a treasure that’s continuously sought after. Besides the obvious benefits of keeping a fire going through the cold winter months, it can also be a cherished asset that provides an extra level of year-round comfort—not to mention how it can help define the layout of a space by acting as a sculptural element.
May 23, 2016
An office Crosby Studios designed for NGRS in Moscow
Crosby Studios just cares about the essentials.
May 22, 2016
cold sweat seattle floating sauna gocstudio
A cadre of designers let off steam after hours by building and sailing a seaworthy sauna.
May 22, 2016
in the swim off the grid campsite healdsburg california swimming pool solar heat lap pool ipe deck loll designs lounge chairs
An off-the-grid house that is little more than a decked campsite—albeit with a roof—includes a swimming pool for a family that loves to enjoy the elements.
May 21, 2016
A print by Kristina Krogh
From flat to physical, Kristina Krogh masters every dimension.
May 21, 2016
scifi
Every week, we highlight one amazing Dwell home that went viral on Pinterest. Follow Dwell's Pinterest account for more daily design inspiration.
May 21, 2016
beverly hills living room piano view
Architect Noah Walker, principal of Los Angeles–based studio Walker Workshop, shares completed and work-in-progress residential designs on his Instagram page (@noah_walker). Take a peek at some of the striking modern houses here, and tour the Venice House on the Dwell Home Tours on June 26.
May 20, 2016
ripple effect san fancisco small space yard outdoor monica viarengo pebble mosiac artificial turf slide
A San Francisco landscape designer finds a small-space solution that’s anything but narrow-minded.
May 20, 2016
Oslo living room with light wood floors and wood slab table
A pair of designers in Oslo, armed with tricks for introducing color and daylight, remake their compact late-19th-century apartment.
May 20, 2016
family affair backyard addition portrait
In coastal Massachusetts, a resourceful couple and their equally enterprising children use reclaimed materials to create a versatile 168-square-foot backyard building.
May 20, 2016
speed machine australian beachside prefab archiblox facade colorbond ultra steel cladding queensland blue gum wood
With little time to waste, an Australian firm erects an efficient prefab overlooking the ocean.
May 20, 2016
Christian Benimana at Design Indaba
When he was younger, there wasn't a single architecture school in his country. Now, as part of MASS Design Group, Christian Benimana shares how architecture can heal and inspire Africa.
May 19, 2016
01 1
This Italian villa is serenity incarnate.
May 19, 2016
michael cobb interior
Alternative materials help a house in California’s wine country tread lightly on the land.
May 18, 2016
13266797 1799532953608317 1984666518 n 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
May 18, 2016
Industrial kitchen built on a budget.
In Austin, Texas, architect Sean Guess forges an inventive industrial kitchen for a cost-conscious couple.
May 18, 2016
great danes dining area
In an up-and-coming area of Copenhagen, a pair of designers and their twin girls inhabit a converted loft, filling it with serious design savvy and a hefty dose of creativity.
May 18, 2016