Finding undeveloped land in the idyllic Californian city of Carmel-by-the-Sea is next to impossible. So when Austrian architect Mary Ann Schicketanz decided to leave rural Big Sur, where she had lived for 21 years, and move to town, she looked for a good lot with a house she could tear down. But when she found a two-bedroom built in 1972, she instead embarked on a massive renovation of the structure. The end result? A LEED Gold-certified urban hideaway that bows to its modernist history, while giving off a distinctly contemporary feeling.
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Architect Mary Ann Schicketanz transformed the old entryway into a private courtyard, replacing the door and window with a sleek glass slider. She removed the fiberglass panels and constructed a reclaimed wood barrier to separate the sitting area from the new front door on the opposite side. A high concrete wall also encloses it. “I love that you can be right on the street without having any sense the street is there,” Schicketanz says.
When Schicketanz bought the 2,054-square-foot house for $650,000 in 2012, it was dark and dilapidated, sinking two inches out of plumb toward the creek. Unsightly fiberglass panels lined the front door walkway. Plus, there was a woodpecker problem. “The plywood on one side had a million holes in it,” she recalls. “When we opened the walls inside, I don’t know how many pounds of acorns poured out.” All in all, she spent about $270 per square foot to completely renovate the structure.
Schicketanz whitewashed the living room’s wood walls and replaced the carpet with teak flooring reclaimed from elsewhere on site. Workers also dismantled the dark stone fireplace to widen the view, installing an efficient, compact fireplace on the southern wall. “From sunrise to sundown, you have light in the house,” Schicketanz says. “It’s bright even on gloomy days.”
In the original east-facing living room, the light was partially blocked by a poorly located fireplace.