Grand Award: Cubist Movement

A 1940s Los Angeles home is given a modern edge with planning that ties the living spaces more closely to the outdoors.

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Location: Los Angeles

Contractor: Art Lopez, Design Plus Construction, Los Angeles

Designer: Margaret Griffin and John Enright, Griffin Enright Architects, Los Angeles

The owners of this house were initially looking to buy a new modern home but soon realized there was a shortage of contemporary houses in their area and that they were unlikely to find one in a location as great as their current neighborhood, so they stayed put.

The existing 1940s house — an unusual combination of Tudor and French country — was pushed tight to the street with a cavern-like entry set between two separate courtyards. The team at Griffin Enright Architects sought to simplify the space and connect the living areas to the outdoors. Two 8-foot walls were removed to create one unified courtyard space and architect Margaret Griffin specified telescoping doors for the living room to help tie the living space to the outdoors.

The design team reinterpreted the bay windows on either side of the house as cubes, which “create a dynamic new front,” Griffin says. The large windows of each cube are frosted on the lower half for privacy, and the contractor refaced existing walls with a clean white stucco finish.

On the interior, the original stairs were a significant obstacle to an open floor plan, so Griffin moved them to the rear of the house. One short set of steps now leads to a landing and the back door; another set of steps wraps around and leads to the upstairs bedrooms.

The owners now have a view from the front courtyard to the back patio. A 300-square-foot addition to the rear contains a small library on the main floor and a guest room on the upper level. “Doing a modest expansion preserved the quality of the outdoor space,” Griffin says. The judges commented that the design is sparse but strong: “Minimalist can be sterile, but this feels casual and comfortable,” said one judge.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.