Renovation: 800 Square Feet

Renovation: 800 Square Feet

By Erika Heet
While in the process of helping his father find a suitable home closer to his family, Sacramento designer Curtis Popp realized he had everything he needed to provide his dad, an artist, with the comfortable, modern environment he always desired. One half of a 1950s ranch-style duplex owned by the designer’s mother—amicably separated from his father long ago—opened up, providing 800 square feet of space for the redo.

Knocking down a stifling wall separating the living room and kitchen, Popp opened the space to bring light in and create a fitting canvas for his father’s contemporary artwork and modern furnishings he’s collected over the years—all in an easily managed, single-level layout. Acting as the project manager and construction lead and relying on floor sales and extra materials from other projects, Popp was able to completely transform the two-bedroom, one-bath apartment for a total of $45,000, which he says "won’t even buy you cabinets in some remodels."

Describing his dad as "a great, and grateful, client," Popp says he had carte blanche, within his budgetary restrictions, to "do something really interesting, really cool for my dad, who said he didn’t want to hinder the project with a lot of requests." Indeed, the project shows a clear, singular vision in an area that is just starting to awaken from its long design hibernation: the Eichler houses are becoming more recognized, and one of Popp’s clients recently organized Sacramento’s first mid-century modern house tour. Though it took some convincing to pry his father away from the idea of living in the much farther away, mid-century modern haven that is Palm Springs, Popp’s father told him after moving in, "I’m so glad I am where I am."

The elder Popp bought the Le Corbusier chairs in the ’80s and the Arco Flos lamp in the ’70s; the Philippe Starck barstools were purchased recently for the apartment. The antique rugs are from Ronald Popp’s collection, and the art is by mostly Bay Area artists. To help control costs, Popp worked with much of the existing 1950s building’s elements, such as the brick fireplace, giving it a coat of white paint "to provide a better background for the art." Just off the living room, accessed through a floor-to-ceiling glass door, is a garden for Popp’s father.

The original white-oak floors were continued into the kitchen and ebonized throughout the apartment.

The designer eschewed expensive cabinetry in favor of powder-coated stainless steel, and found the Miele cooktop and oven at a floor sale. To keep things uncluttered, Popp installed a Sub-Zero under-counter refrigerator, a small Fisher & Paykel dishwasher and a simple Hansgrohe faucet, all found at a discount.

Popp created wood cabinetry surrounded by another powder-coated steel vanity "with a punch of blue" for the bathroom. In anticipation of the project, he took time to gather key elements, such as the bathroom’s Dornbracht faucet, at sale prices.

Popp removed the old bath/shower combo and remodeled the configuration of the shower, which now has one-level access for safety and ease of use, and installed a remote operating device. "The tile is all Heath seconds," says Popp, who found enough pieces to cover the entire 250-square-foot bathroom.

Ronald Popp, with a self-portrait in the dining zone off the kitchen. The Harry Bertoia chairs are from his existing collection; their orange pads served as the design springboard for the kitchen cabinetry. Popp acquired the Eero Saarinen table for the space.


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