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Before & After: A Storied Midcentury Home Begins a New Chapter on Its seventieth Anniversary



Robert Swatt, principal at Swatt | Miers Architects, had lengthy saved a watchful, protecting eye on this midcentury property within the Northern California metropolis of Lafayette. “Having lived across the creek from the home for over 25 years, and having been friends with the previous owners, I had appreciated the architecture for a long time,” he says. “But I had concerns that a new buyer might not have the same appreciation—and might even decide to tear it down.”

The renovation didn’t change the construction of the house.

Although the property was almost 70 years outdated when the venture began, it was in good situation.

The residence was in-built 1952 by architect John Carl Warnecke—who was heralded by the Kennedys for his experience—and it was a time capsule that embodied one of the best of the period’s design sensibilities. Set on 1.5 acres of bucolic land, and spanning 4,500 sq. ft, the construction is formed like a U to softly encompass a yard, whereas additionally upholding the clear strains and sharp angles of the midcentury-modern aesthetic.

Before: Living Room

The authentic dwelling house retained the copper fire that Warnecke in-built 1952.

After: Living Room

“We wanted to honor the existing building by revealing all of the exposed structural elements, and many of the original finishes,” Swatt says. 

The couple employed a Bay Area furnishings designer to create a customized leather-based couch.

Fortunately, all of it labored out for one of the best. The household of 4 who purchased the property—a dad who works within the tech business, and a mother who has a gross sales and advertising background, plus their two younger youngsters—hit it off with Swatt rapidly.

“It’s almost as if the home smiled upon itself, with the U shape and wall-to-wall windows wrapping around the patio,” the home-owner says. “There was so much light, and opportunities to view nature from almost anywhere in the house.”

Before: Kitchen

The current kitchen had been up to date, however it didn’t match the old-is-new aesthetic the householders desired.

After: Kitchen

“The kitchen is seamlessly integrated into the living space, and is highly functional without too much glamour,” the home-owner says. 

Custom walnut cupboard fronts oppose black ones surrounding the vary.

And but, a portion of that magnificence was obscured by the house’s run-down state. The home windows have been greater than a half-century outdated, they usually regarded out to a jungle of uncared for fig, lemon, and blood orange bushes. While the house had an open ground plan, a few of that flooring had three layers of historical past caked on high of it. 

“But, overall, the house was in excellent structural condition, making it a perfect target for a gentle modernization in line with the original character,” the home-owner says—they usually reached out to Swatt to tackle the venture.

Before: Bathroom

The current toilet had house, however no model. 

After: Bathroom

Swatt and the homeowners introduced some decidedly of-the-moment model to the first toilet, whereas nonetheless tying it to midcentury sensibilities. The house options Kohler fixtures and Clé ground tiles.

“As a practicing architect, I design homes throughout the region and beyond,” Swatt says. “Why would my team and I decide to get involved in this relatively small project next door? There are a couple of good reasons: First, the owners and I all share an appreciation of the original home. And secondly, we’ve become good friends and enjoy hanging out together—including playing in a garage band!”

The eating space showcases the beams and glass that drew the homeowners to this residence. An article desk sits beneath a Luceplan lamp by Lady Costanza.

The homeowners took it upon themselves to study as a lot as doable about Warnecke and the property because the renovation began in 2019. With the unique plans in hand, they collaborated with Swatt on an replace that balanced modern components with the house’s enduring qualities. 

“We wanted to use period-compatible materials, a simple color palette, and subtle accents to bring out the old glory, with a genuinely modern spin,” the home-owner says. The homeowners have been searching for it to be “light, cozy, and minimalist,” with a number of “surprises and delights.” 

The main bed room nonetheless has its authentic, two-sided copper fire. A Veneto chair by BoConcept sits close to a Fleetwood slider.

Swatt | Miers Architects saved as a lot of the present construction as doable, together with the areas the place glass was positioned, the 2 copper fireplaces, and a lot of the partitions. The design group shifted the property’s authentic six bedrooms into 4 to create space for a mudroom and a walk-in closet, and put in pure supplies like white oak and walnut to guide effortlessly to the newly manicured oasis exterior.

“Where appropriate, we installed new finishes—some with patterns—but the new materials felt right at home within the midcentury architecture,” Swatt notes.

The yard space contains a pool and a one-bedroom cottage that have been additionally renovated. In this space, Bolinas furnishings by Terra surrounds a firepit.

In phrases of expertise, although, the homeowners and Swatt agreed that the house must be completely modernized—notably in regard to vitality effectivity and residential automation.A photo voltaic system supplies sufficient energy to take the residence off the grid, and it now has radiant heating, sustainable insulation, and a central safety system.

The renovation preserved the house’s low-slung profile whereas changing all the home windows and doorways for higher insulation and vitality effectivity. 

The group didn’t run into any points throughout development, regardless of being ready for any shifts, they usually’re grateful for the work that was accomplished up to now to make the method simpler. The total renovation wrapped up earlier this spring, alongside the house’s seventieth anniversary. “I felt so relieved when I met our new neighbors,” Swatt says. “They love the home, and they were willing to preserve it.”

Floor Plan of Lieber House by Swatt | Miers Architects

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