"Update or Preserve? Yes!"
This month I’m faced with a conundrum that is a common one for the lucky designers working on great historical properties. One of my current projects captures all that I love about home and architecture so much that I nearly go into a trance just thinking about it. It’s a brilliantly executed Spanish Hacienda by Alfred T. “Hap” Gilman, who from the 30s through the 50s was an architect in Los Angeles known for his work in Monterey Colonial and Spanish Revival styles.
This particular gem of his unfolds atop rolling citrus orchards with distant views to the Pacific. It’s unpresuming yet grand, a single level that wraps around an inner courtyard with a sparkling pool, deep overhangs and terra cotta floor tile that transitions seamlessly inside to out. Every choice made when the home was originally built in the 70s was a quality decision, and the end result personifies the life that intentional architecture can breathe into its building materials, making you feel as though you are visiting an enchanted place.
For the current homeowners, the problem is that not all of these top-of-the-line decisions from the original construction stand the test of time in the spaces where function is the most vital, and the lifestyle changes we’ve all experienced in the intervening years that have lead to the popularity of open-concept living don’t fit comfortably in the current partitioning of the rooms. In my design for this space, it’s tempting to place preservation at odds with updating it for modern living. But I like to find ways to honor the mark that Hap left on this place through my material selections and to realize the needed updates in ways that compliment his original choices. Maintaining the balance and harmony of this special place is paramount. My hope is that when we are finished, Hap would tip his hat in full approval and our clients will be able to live the life they are striving to create in this truly Noble Space!
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Tammy and the team at Interior Archaeology