Amazing House is Half Historic and Half Modern

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By Laura C. Mallonee
A historic home in Phoenix steps into the 21st century.

When designer Joel Contreras decided to renovate his 1927 bungalow in Phoenix’s Coronado Historic District, he wanted to respectfully preserve the building’s past while also incorporating his love for contemporary architecture. Jonah Busick of Foundry12 happened to live in the same neighborhood, so Contreras hired the architect to help him reach that vision.

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Busick refreshed the house’s east-facing façade by painting the trim a bold black that echoes the steel addition at the rear.

"The concept was to have a half-historic, half-modern house," says Busick, who was excited about working on a project that would enhance his own community. After bouncing ideas collaboratively back and forth, the two decided to give the 800-square-foot house two "faces" by maintaining the original red brick walls at the front and constructing a steel, glass and concrete addition at the back—ultimately doubling the house’s footprint to 1,602 square feet.

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The modern addition sits on a concrete platform that extends past the house’s envelope, creating welcoming patios on each side. “From any space within the home you are no more than a few steps from one of the outdoor spaces,” Busick says. On the west-facing back porch, Green Kite Chairs by Karim Rashid and a poppy-red hammock offer ideal spots from which to take in the sunset.

But how to keep these distinct spaces from feeling oddly disjointed? Busick visually connected them by extending the existing gable roof form across the entire length of the house. A series of shaded patios also help with the transition, not to mention the hot Arizona climate. The further in a person walks, the more the home unfolds into the elements. "The inspiration was based on a variation of a ‘dogtrot’ house, where a breezeway or porch would typically separate different spaces within the home," the architect explains.  The resulting design means Contreras never actually has to choose between being outside and inside—much less between the old and the new. 

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In the living room, Busick left the original brick walls and tongue-and-groove wood ceiling exposed, while he refinished the white oak flooring with a walnut stain. “We edited the newer renovations to the historic home down to the fundamental elements,” he explains. A gray Delos Sofa by Control Brand sits cozily in front of a window.

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Off the living room, two small bedrooms and a bathroom can be reached through sliding doors that, when closed, continue the cheerful pattern of the Moroccan cement tiles covering the wall.

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Contreras can take his breakfast at a polished marble bar overhung by Tom Dixon pendant lights. A walnut cabinet system reaches from floor to ceiling, dividing the kitchen from the master bedroom.

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A custom, steel-framed window and door system reinforces the horizontal lines of the existing bungalow. Just outside the kitchen, Contreras can entertain guests on the patio—warmed on chillier days by a low, rectangular fireplace.

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With the house often open to the outside, dust easily drifts in. Fortunately, the concrete floor, speckled with white aggregate mix, is easy to clean.

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A skylight illuminates the neutral master bathroom, letting bathers contemplate the clouds. The faucets and tub are by Brizo, and the sinks are SlabHaus.

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Contreras opted for quality over quantity, sparsely decorating the room leading out to the backyard with a 1950s Thaden Jordan birch credenza and a pair of Barcelona chairs.

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An additional aspect of the renovation was the conversion of a dilapidated carriage house into a sleek, two-story studio that flanks the rear porch. A structural steel frame inside reinforces the structure while recalling the main house’s steel cladding.

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A horizontally-clad pine fence surrounds the home, giving its residents a measure of privacy at night despite the floor-to-ceiling windows.

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