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Renovating a Mid-Century Home

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Robert Sallin, who has been steadily remodeling his mid-century residence, has a few words of wisdom for those thinking of taking on a home improvement project, mid-century or not: "Be sensitive to what the architect originally designed and extend that vision no matter what era it was built…the key is to be faithful." Sallin bought his Richad Dorman-designed home in 1968 with his wife, painter Sandra Sallin. They raised their family there, slowly adding a family room, pool, and artist's studio, and renovating the kitchen as well. Perched in the hills of Los Angeles overlooking the Pacific, the current iteration of the house is far from a looking like a patchwork of add-ons and pays tribute to Dorman's original design intent. If there's one person who has grappled with all the trials and tribulations of a mid-century renovation, it's Robert. Here, he gives us a brief tour of his home and offers a few tips and hints on what to keep in mind for a successful project.

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  The Sallin residence was designed by Richard Dorman, a lesser-known contemporary of John Lautner and Craig Ellwood (whose design is the focal point of our Hollywood Renovation Backstory series). Dorman designed a handful of residences and commercial buildings in the Los Angeles region in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and relocated to Santa Fe in 1975.
    The Sallin residence was designed by Richard Dorman, a lesser-known contemporary of John Lautner and Craig Ellwood (whose design is the focal point of our Hollywood Renovation Backstory series). Dorman designed a handful of residences and commercial buildings in the Los Angeles region in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and relocated to Santa Fe in 1975.
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  The Sallin residence is perched in the Los Angeles hills. "The prime thing was to maintain the aesthetic and make it look like it was always there," says Sallin of the governing principles behind the renovations.
    The Sallin residence is perched in the Los Angeles hills. "The prime thing was to maintain the aesthetic and make it look like it was always there," says Sallin of the governing principles behind the renovations.
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  The house's flat roof peeks through the lush garden. Roofs are a particularly problematic part of mid-century homes. Sallin has a roofer come in yearly to touch up and inspect the roof, an investment he says pays off. "We've never had a leak because of the attention it has received," he says.
    The house's flat roof peeks through the lush garden. Roofs are a particularly problematic part of mid-century homes. Sallin has a roofer come in yearly to touch up and inspect the roof, an investment he says pays off. "We've never had a leak because of the attention it has received," he says.
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  We you to describe Dorman's design, the word "reposed" comes to mind. In his design for the residence the Sallins would eventually call home, Dorman used a 7 x 9 module throughout, which instills a pleasing dimensional ratio and provided the basis for many of the additions. For example, the original columns in the walkways are spaced seven feet apart and rise to a height of nine feet.
    We you to describe Dorman's design, the word "reposed" comes to mind. In his design for the residence the Sallins would eventually call home, Dorman used a 7 x 9 module throughout, which instills a pleasing dimensional ratio and provided the basis for many of the additions. For example, the original columns in the walkways are spaced seven feet apart and rise to a height of nine feet.
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  "People always remark that they can't tell where the original stops and the addition begins," he says noting that the original design was only 2,960 square feet and the current house is just under 4,000 square feet. In order to achieve consistency, Sallin credits keeping the underlying 7 x 9 module in mind when thinking about spacing new columns in the outdoor areas, like the trellis in the pool area.
    "People always remark that they can't tell where the original stops and the addition begins," he says noting that the original design was only 2,960 square feet and the current house is just under 4,000 square feet. In order to achieve consistency, Sallin credits keeping the underlying 7 x 9 module in mind when thinking about spacing new columns in the outdoor areas, like the trellis in the pool area.
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  The small galley kitchen was recently remodeled. "I don't know how many different designs we looked at," says Sallin, who considered many top-of-the-line kitchens from all the big names. "They just didn't feel right so we went to the original Dorman plans," he explains.
    The small galley kitchen was recently remodeled. "I don't know how many different designs we looked at," says Sallin, who considered many top-of-the-line kitchens from all the big names. "They just didn't feel right so we went to the original Dorman plans," he explains.
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  Here's the kitchen after it was gutted and received a much needed face lift. When remodeling the kitchen, Sallin can't stress how important it is to have excellent contractors and builders and a solid plan of action. Robert's nephew Marc Sallin of Kingston Reconstruction & Flooring carried out the project. "Learn how to anticipate every single occurrence," Robert advises. "You can't know know too much and if it means you have to take the time to learn, it will save you in the back end."
    Here's the kitchen after it was gutted and received a much needed face lift. When remodeling the kitchen, Sallin can't stress how important it is to have excellent contractors and builders and a solid plan of action. Robert's nephew Marc Sallin of Kingston Reconstruction & Flooring carried out the project. "Learn how to anticipate every single occurrence," Robert advises. "You can't know know too much and if it means you have to take the time to learn, it will save you in the back end."
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  The original cabinetry opposite the kitchen was covered in a veneer and couldn't be refinished so the Sallins opted to replace them entirely.
    The original cabinetry opposite the kitchen was covered in a veneer and couldn't be refinished so the Sallins opted to replace them entirely.
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  The remodeled cabinets reflect the same pattern as the old ones, though they are all new. By keeping the underlying design in mind, the new kitchen seems like it could have been from Dorman's original design.
    The remodeled cabinets reflect the same pattern as the old ones, though they are all new. By keeping the underlying design in mind, the new kitchen seems like it could have been from Dorman's original design.
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  All of the cabinetry is by Ikea, though Sallin says they're often mistaken for high-end lines due in part to the thoughtful installation by his contractor.
    All of the cabinetry is by Ikea, though Sallin says they're often mistaken for high-end lines due in part to the thoughtful installation by his contractor.
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  Salin's wife, Sandra, is a professional artist. He designed a studio space for her, which is illuminated by skylights and large floor-to-ceiling windows along the back wall. The 7 x 9 module was used to determine their size, says Sallin.
    Salin's wife, Sandra, is a professional artist. He designed a studio space for her, which is illuminated by skylights and large floor-to-ceiling windows along the back wall. The 7 x 9 module was used to determine their size, says Sallin.
  • 
  Clerestory windows above the desk area illuminate the studio addition. Sallin beams when talking about the design, but his most favorite part is how everything coalesces as a whole. "For a modern house it's friendly, not austere. And I love the quality of the light," says Sallin.Don't miss a word of Dwell! Download our  FREE app from iTunes, friend us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter!
    Clerestory windows above the desk area illuminate the studio addition. Sallin beams when talking about the design, but his most favorite part is how everything coalesces as a whole. "For a modern house it's friendly, not austere. And I love the quality of the light," says Sallin.

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

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