middle aged face lift

by Sep 14, 2016ModArchitecture0 comments

part 1 – the problem and the solution

the ambitious masterplan devised by architect Chris Magee to connect front to back, create a large entertaining space, and enhance the garage and carport.

Our house turned 60 this year!  Hard to believe ‘futuristic’ Midcentury Modern homes are 50 – 70 years old, and like the rest of the baby boomer generation, they are showing their age and are often requiring more than just routine maintenance.  Some items in midcentury homes (like ceramic tile and Formica counters) hold up remarkably well.  Other items, like roofs and exterior retaining walls, not so much.  Original appliances are few and far between these days, and seeing an original furnace or boiler is an even rarer sight.  And don’t even get me started on midcentury electrical issues (no GFCI outlets, Federal Pacific electric panels, fuse boxes), which are all easily remedied and certainly worthwhile improvements.   At least we know exactly what to expect and can counsel our buyers and sellers accordingly.  But time marches on….and sometimes bigger issues need attention, which can present the opportunity to kick it up a few notches.

side view of house. adding a path to get from the front yard to the back yard is a priority. so the pine tree will have to go, as does the 45 year old air conditioner.

Our current home of 19 years is our 3rd midcentury home.  In our 30 years of MCM home ownership, we feel like we have personally experienced it all.  But we are embarking on our biggest project to date – removing our 60 year old loose laid paver block patio, cement block retaining wall, and some old cruddy brick steps and giving our house the back yard entertaining space that it needs (and deserves).  We are following our own advice, and doing an improvement that we can actually enjoy while we live in our house, instead of improving to sell.

currently there is no easy way to get from the front of the house to the back yard, making entertaining in back extremely difficult (hence our propensity for ‘driveway parties’ )

But like any good project, one thing has lead to another (if you give a mouse a cookie…..).  First thing we did when we decided to move forward was to hire an architect to mastermind the plan.  We have worked with Chris Magee in the past (fireplace renovation, front steps/entry and carport addition) and knew he was the one to tie all of these projects and the new project together with a comprehensive plan.   The huge rainstorms of a few weeks ago tipped us off that we had issues with 3 of our buried downspout lines, luckily in time to remedy within the scope of our project.  And then there is the matter of our garage and driveway.  Do we take this opportunity to improve these as well?  It’s all in the master plan!

original paver blocks have held up well for 60 years, but don’t do the back yard justice. 

we can’t grow much in our shady back yard – except moss grows extremely well on the old, porous pavers. this photo is from May 2016.

and this photo was taken in september ’16. the moss grows out of control!

part of what led to this project is this old block retaining wall started collapsing over the winter. The original breeze block wall will be saved at all costs! but the current retaining wall will be replaced with a simple poured concrete wall. we hope to be able to re-use the extra breeze blocks elsewhere in the project, but they are more fragile than we originally thought.

the other side of the house also lacked an adequate connection to the back, so this area will be addressed as well.

Today was day #1 of construction.  Or should I say demolition.  Here are before pics and Chris’ masterplan.  I will post project updates here and on  Facebook  and instagram if you want to follow the progress.  Ultimate goal: a great space to entertain and serve tiki drinks!  These baby boomers need a place to chill 🙂


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