Living in Marina del Rey

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.

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  Designer Robert Sweet 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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
    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.
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  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.
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  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!
    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.

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