This time we found an abandoned ranch home in West Covina that was built in 1952. It was just off the 10 freeway, and truly was one of the most run-down homes we had ever purchased, including peeling paint and water damage. The house was 1050 square feet, with three bedrooms and only one bathroom. The purchase price was $275,000. However, we saw a lot of potential in this home.
In southern California in the 1950s the freeways connected Los Angeles to the suburbs, marking the beginning of suburban living. As a result of remarkable expansion during the post World War II building boom, West Covina became one of the fastest-growing U.S. cities between 1950 and 1960. Everyone had a car and garages were very important, which is why builders starting building single story homes with attached garages. It truly was the beginning of the car culture, which remains today in southern California.
We thought we could have fun with the design on this house, using touches of car culture, especially after we discovered a stove that was left in the house. It was a 1950s O’Keefe and Merritt stove, De Ville edition, and had decorative features that looked like a hood ornament and speedometer. We decided to restore the stove and return it to the kitchen.
Other original items we wanted to return to the kitchen were the mid-century boomerang style cabinet pulls. They were in pretty rough condition, but we took them to Inland Powder Coating Corp. in Ontario. The pulls were sandblasted, taking them back to the bare metal, and then powder coated in a bright yellow that Tina chose. Very eye-catching!
This house only had one bathroom, and we strongly felt we needed two. We found the solution in the laundry room behind the kitchen. We sealed up the wall between this room and the kitchen, and opened the adjoining wall to the bedroom. We made this room a bathroom, thus creating a master suite. We then were able to take a hall closet and convert it to laundry space.
The other floor plan change we made was taking down the wall between the kitchen and dining area. This opened up the area and made it feel more spacious.
Tina originally wanted to use cement-look tile on the kitchen floor. This industrial look was very mid-century and also a nod to the car culture (aka a cement garage floor). However, upon further research she found that you could now buy Terrazzo tiles and that idea intrigued her. The tiles are much more cost-effective than the large poured Terrazzo floors that were common in the 1950s and 1960s. She also wanted to use metal strips between the tiles to join them, and the result was both unique and striking. We then installed modernistic flat panel cabinets with a quartz countertop that was also the backsplash, and with the yellow cabinet pulls the kitchen was complete!
We wanted to use the same upbeat style in the bathrooms! We used the 12×24 concrete-look tile on the floors and shower walls, laid in a stacked pattern. To add a bit of whimsey we laid penny-round tile in a bright colored accent racing stripe coming down the shower walls and across the floor to the doors.
To complete the inside we had the hardwood floors refinished and stained gray, giving the floors a true modern feel.
Designing the exterior of the home was just as fun as doing the interior. A custom milled front porch screen was designed and built by Jessie and our contractor Casey. The wood was layered in different sizes in order to help provide a sound barrier from the freeway noise. The front door is a modern design painted yellow, which gives the front of the house a true pop of color.
The backyard had an old travel trailer, which we needed to pull out. It was a bit of an adventure getting it out, and Tina was a little nervous about it fitting without hitting the house. However, it made it out and Jessie and the boys had a blast washing it out front. He thought it would be fun to turn it into a mobile coffee shop, but that plan is still up for discussion.
The modern landscape and horizontal fencing completed the mid-century look of this home. We really did have a fun time on this one!