Grand Award 4: Past Is Prologue

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In this historic property in Los Angeles, the architect took the challenge of the building's historic designation and responded with creative solutions to create a cozy home.

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Location: Los Angeles
Contractor: Barbara Behm, P. Bovlanna Developer, Los Angeles
Designer: Tracy A. Stone, AIA, Tracy A. Stone Architect, Los Angeles
Landscape architect: Amy Korn, Korn Randolph Landscape Architects, Pasadena, Calif.

In sleek, modern Los Angeles, it seems incongruous to find a quaint carriage house, circa 1877. The original building, a recognized monument, is located in a designated historic district. “This is a real jewel,” the judges said.

Architect Tracy Stone worked on both the residence and the carriage house as a single entity. Though the home had been “badly remodeled” many times over the years, the carriage house’s exterior walls were original. “Our overarching intent,” Stone says, “was to keep everything that was historical about the property. We tried to make it clear in the carriage house where the transition was from old to new and to allow visitors to read those moments of change.” The judges liked how the architect “modernized the [structure’s] presentation, integrated old materials inside, and was consistent on the interior and exterior design, [adding] some little surprises along the way.”

The exterior was stripped to its natural, warm Douglas fir. Inside, the new first-floor seating area is located where a rudimentary kitchen had previously been. The height of the sofa’s seat back corresponds to the joint between the original siding and later modifications. The original siding runs vertically; new siding runs horizontally.

The second floor “was pretty rough,” Stone says, but it had one room (now the bathroom) entirely clad in white sheathing. “It was the only room with interior finishes, and its beauty was a hint leading to an all-white second floor.”

The structure’s historic designation created limitations that spurred creative solutions. For example, Stone developed ways — other than windows, which would change the exterior — to bring in natural light.

The kitchen was conceived of as a lantern. Light is integrated into the cabinets; underneath for task lighting and above to light the ceiling. Hanging translucent sliding panels conceal the kitchen area. With the panels closed, the kitchen itself becomes a lighting element.

“As much as possible,” Stone says, “we tried to create light sources that do double duty.” In the bedroom, the back of the headboard is topped by a light track so that light bounces off the ceiling. In the bathroom, light coming through a translucent wall with horizontal wood slats becomes a light source for the bedroom.

“This project is one I want to live in,” said one judge. “It’s beautifully detailed, warm and inviting ... the kind of place you want to cozy up in.”

--Stacey Freed, senior editor, REMODELING.