A Silver Lake Home Built in 1939 Is Renovated From Top to Bottom

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By Julia Brenner
A prewar house in Los Angeles is extensively renovated to enhance lakeside views and create a fresh, modern aesthetic.

When Greg Steinberg and Alexandra Becket, designers and owners of ModOp Design, conceptualized the renovation of their 1939 home in the Moreno Highlands in Silver Lake, their goals were to open it up to the lake's spectacular views and to create a vibrant, modern aesthetic—and to do it all on a budget. 

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The final result of Alex and Greg's light-filled home began with a few "overly ambitious" renovation concepts, followed by extensive planning alongside architect Jai Pal S. Khalsa, who recommended they tie all alterations into the existing foundation and framing. Since they were renovating on a budget, fastidious planning was imperative, as Alex notes that "the planning stages of a renovation are critical to the success of the project." 

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In this instance, the project was a top-to-bottom renovation, including enlarging the house and redesigning the exterior, as well as extensive alterations to the interior layout, such as vaulting the ceilings and moving the kitchen upstairs to create an open-floor plan "where the kitchen, dining, and living areas are defined by furniture instead of walls." Construction took a little over a year and was completed in 2016. 

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As designers, Alex and Greg were able to personally design and customize key aspects of their new home, such as the television/shelving unit with sliding doors and the accompanying entertainment/equipment cabinet.  They also designed the home's floor-to-ceiling, stained-wood stairwell railings. Plus, Alex's wallpaper designs are dispersed throughout the home. 

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The house is located in the couple's "dream neighborhood" of Moreno Highlands. As they're fortunate enough to have a lake-facing property, they wanted to make sure that all common living areas would capture the views. So, they opted for a pitched roofline with higher ceilings, as well as larger windows and triangular clearstory windows to allow for optimal natural light. 

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A wall of sliding glass doors was added to extend the flow between indoor/outdoor living areas and to open up the house to the surrounding  environment. This structural change was made all the more special once Alex and Greg began living in the home and experiencing the magical quality of light in the surrounding mountains at dusk and dawn, as they note the mountains seem "to glow."  

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The light-filled interior is warmed up with a modern mix of natural wood elements and colorful accents, such as the hand-painted silk wallpaper that Alex personally designed to echo the water currents in Silver Lake. The colorful table runner is designed by All Roads

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"We renovated the house on a budget, which was not an easy feat, given the complexities of adding on in a hillside area."- Alexandra Becket

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For their kitchen counters, Alex and Greg wanted to achieve the polished look of marble with the durability and stain resistance of quartz, so they chose Caesarstone’s Calcutta Nuovoe, which is a non-porous quartz surface.

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Both Greg and Alex love the warmth of natural wood and used a rich walnut throughout the interior, from custom walnut kitchen and bathroom cabinets to hand-oiled walnut floors. 

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To add natural vibrancy and variable depths of color, they used tile selections from Heath Ceramics' Modern Basics line for the kitchen backsplash and all bathroom tiles. 

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Each of Alex's wallpaper designs come from personal sources of inspiration. 

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The master bedroom wallpaper motif is inspired by mosaic tile floors. It evokes a calm elegance and is paired with a coordinating wallpaper, pillows, and a pendant light. 

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Their four-year-old daughter’s colorful mural, pictured above, is inspired by a family trip to Kauai. (Fun fact: their daughter chose "beachy tropical" as the theme for her bedroom. Looks like they nailed it.) The powder room wallpaper shown below is inspired by rock formations at Little Dume Beach in Malibu.

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"The hand-painted quality of the wallpaper's designs give each room a different personality." 

 -Greg Steinberg

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Project Credits:

-Architect of Record:  Jai Pal S Khalsa AIA

-Builder/General Contractor and Interior Design: ModOp Design

-Cabinetry Design/Installation (TV Cabinet): Brian Hollenbeck, Bellwether Millworks

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