Before & After: A Bill Mack Midcentury Gem Gets a Gorgeous Remodel in Three Months Flat

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By Michele Koh Morollo
A creative California couple turn a Bill Mack-designed midcentury residence into a beautiful and practical modern home.

Interior designer and artist Christa Martin and her husband, TV executive and creative director Geoff Katz, were looking for a house with open ceilings, natural light, privacy, views, and a commute within 30 minutes for Katz. After seeing more a dozen properties, they finally found their dream house on the edge of Bel Air—a 1,400-square-foot, two-bedroom, two-bathroom, post-and-beam, midcentury house designed by well-known architect Bill Mack.

Christa began working on the redesign while the property was in escrow. The structure and foundation were sound, but the house had been neglected for 40 years—and the kitchen and baths were no longer functioning. They kept the property's original footprint, but improved the flow and function by relocating the closets and some of the doors. 

Before: Entrance Door

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The couple sanded, repaired, and sealed the wood ceilings, exterior overhangs, wood beams, posts, and window trim inside and out. 

The couple sanded, repaired, and sealed the wood ceilings, exterior overhangs, wood beams, posts, and window trim inside and out. 

After: Entrance Door

The interior doors were replaced with flush, solid core doors painted Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue.

The interior doors were replaced with flush, solid core doors painted Farrow & Ball Inchyra Blue.

The old kitchen and baths were stripped down to the studs and reworked to create larger, more contemporary spaces. 

Before: Living Room

The house is located in the Santa Monica mountains. It was built in 1958, along with a carport and a boomerang-shaped pool.

The house is located in the Santa Monica mountains. It was built in 1958, along with a carport and a boomerang-shaped pool.

The design team polished and sealed the original concrete slabs and removed the old carpeting and tiles.

The design team polished and sealed the original concrete slabs and removed the old carpeting and tiles.

After: Living Room

Rows of globe lights featured throughout the rooms cast light in all directions—including up at the ceiling.

Rows of globe lights featured throughout the rooms cast light in all directions—including up at the ceiling.

A RH Fulham leather sofa, a Garza Marfa striped blanket and HD Buttercup cushions.

A RH Fulham leather sofa, a Garza Marfa striped blanket and HD Buttercup cushions.

Martin and Katz plastered over the stucco finish of the fireplace wall with soft gray Venetian plaster.

Martin and Katz plastered over the stucco finish of the fireplace wall with soft gray Venetian plaster.

A custom reclaimed wood and car jack coffee table and an Eames LCW chair.

A custom reclaimed wood and car jack coffee table and an Eames LCW chair.

"I always start with the architecture, the landscape, and the character of the house. I wanted to enhance what was already in existence – it’s more sustainable, and I think a little age and patina makes a house feel homey. For this house, I wanted a casual, lived-in, and comfortable space that would be easy to maintain. Nothing too precious or complicated. We were determined to be living in the house within three months, so we needed to select stock fixtures and finishes. My mantra became ‘do the simple thing’—if I thought of a solution that worked, we did it and moved on," says Martin. 

A Blu Dot Clad credenza.

A Blu Dot Clad credenza.

A CB2 "Lawndale" daybed, and carpet from Serena and Lily.

A CB2 "Lawndale" daybed, and carpet from Serena and Lily.

Air Force atomic vintage dining chairs, and a custom dining table made from oak and safety glass.

Air Force atomic vintage dining chairs, and a custom dining table made from oak and safety glass.

They left the building’s envelope intact, preserved most of the existing windows (including the reeded glass along the entry atrium), and retained the open ceilings and the wood-burning fireplace.

The couple also sanded and sealed the wood ceilings, removed posts and window frames, relocated the closets and cabinets for better circulation, modernized the kitchen and bathrooms, and gave the exterior and interior walls a fresh coat of white paint.

Before: Kitchen

The original L-shaped kitchen was closed off and lacked storage, so Martin opened it up by taking out the doorway to the hall and extending the space to the ceiling.

The original L-shaped kitchen was closed off and lacked storage, so Martin opened it up by taking out the doorway to the hall and extending the space to the ceiling.

After: Kitchen

A Bosch 800 series dual fuel range and Caesarstone Raw Concrete countertop from IKEA.

A Bosch 800 series dual fuel range and Caesarstone Raw Concrete countertop from IKEA.

The contractor installed the walnut trim, shelving, and cabinets sides and backing on site.

The contractor installed the walnut trim, shelving, and cabinets sides and backing on site.

A Fisher & Paykel refrigerator. 

A Fisher & Paykel refrigerator. 

The couple replaced the old aluminum windows with wood-framed fixed glass, and they swapped the old water heater with an on-demand unit. They removed the washer and dryer from the second bedroom and installed a stacked set behind flush walnut panels in the hallway. The site where the washer and dryer used to sit now features large windows that look out upon the patio. 

Before: Bedroom

The old master bedroom.

The old master bedroom.

After: Bedroom

A Duxiana king-sized platform bed and a Mañana lamp in the master bedroom.

A Duxiana king-sized platform bed and a Mañana lamp in the master bedroom.

"My goal was to bring this house back to life and make it a home. I wanted to strip away the damage that had happened over the years and make the architecture sing again. I created a palette of natural wood, soft white walls, and concrete floors with accents of blue. The finished house is open, light-filled, and private, with patio doors coaxing everyone out into the sunny backyard," says Martin. 

A West Elm rug in the bedroom.

A West Elm rug in the bedroom.

Before: Bathroom

"The master was the biggest challenge. It was a divided space with a vanity area that was open to the bedroom. A small separate (carpeted!) room held a shower-over-tub with a rotted window over it, and the toilet. We removed the dividing wall and put a freestanding tub and put beautiful Heath tile behind it as a focal point," says Martin.

"The master was the biggest challenge. It was a divided space with a vanity area that was open to the bedroom. A small separate (carpeted!) room held a shower-over-tub with a rotted window over it, and the toilet. We removed the dividing wall and put a freestanding tub and put beautiful Heath tile behind it as a focal point," says Martin.

After: Bathrooms

SomerTile silk penny round mosaic floor tiles of the guest bathroom. 

SomerTile silk penny round mosaic floor tiles of the guest bathroom. 

Heath Ceramics Heron Blue wall tiles.

Heath Ceramics Heron Blue wall tiles.

Project credits: 

Architect of Record: Bill Mack 

Interior design: Christa Martin Studio / @christamartinstudio

Photography: Alison Bernier

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