McCalls Home Renovation, Piestewa Peak, Modern Arizona Home, US Architecture, American Real Estate Images
Sep 5, 2022
Architect: Koss Design+Build
Location: Piestewa Peak, Arizona, USA
Photos: Andrew Jarson
McCalls Home Renovation, Arizona
This 1963 midcentury home near Piestewa Peak was originally designed by Architect Fredrick Fleener as a McCall’s Magazine ‘Certified’ home. The original architect worked with 21 women to design a home for the modern 1960’s family. Over the years the home changed hands several times and the original materials and details had been obscured and altered. The renovation consisted of stripping the house back to its original bones, a small 40 sf addition to the primary suite, a complete makeover of the back yard and a room-by-room surgical renovation of the main house. The extremely modest budget was stretched through the homeowner’s sweat equity.
Clients were a younger couple looking for an architecturally significant home that fit their lifestyle and aesthetic values. Building new was too costly so finding an older home with good mid-century bones was a great path to achieve their goals. The design team immediately recognized this home could be stripped back to its originally bones, restored where needed and then blended with modern amenities and design updates for a beautiful project that would satisfy all the client wishes.
Budget was always a concern so many of the updates were made over years, partially through hiring trades and partially through the owner’s own sweat equity.
Original Home Information
Existing single family home completed in 1963. Construction is slab on grade with exposed block walls and wood framed walls with western red cedar board and batten. Flat roof with exposed wood beams and exposed structural tongue and groove ceilings.
The original home was built along with 4 other homes in the early 60’s. These 4 homes were all built near each other in a cul-de-sac and were to act as the show homes where potential buyers could come to walk through all 4 options, select the home they wanted and then pick one of the nearby lots to have their home built by the home builder, John F. Long. Each of the 4 homes were distinct in design ranging from traditional to modern.
This particular home was designed by a local phoenix architect Fredrick Fleenor and was the most modern of the 4 show homes. As part of the marketing campaign of the development this home was designed in conjunction with McCall’s magazine. The architect worked with a panel of women to design ‘the home of future’ for a modern day family.
Although the home’s form was the most modern of the 4 show homes, the material palette used reflected the local climate while leaning towards natural selections. The exposed block is a hybrid type adobe and the exposed wood beams and ceilings helped to warm the interiors of the home.
Mid-century Modern To Modern Day
The homeowners purchased the property in 2003. The original floor plan separated most of the spaces inside the home and out. Previous owners had opened up the kitchen-entry-dinning area to create a more open concept plan but that was about the only improvement that was made from the original design.
The design build team created a plan to rework the exterior to create more of an indoor-outdoor connection, solve some minor flooding issues while making several exterior spaces designed for outdoor living. A new roof was installed and the exterior wood siding and beams were replaced and or maintained as needed to help bring the exterior structure back to life.
On the inside of the home the single HVAC system was replaced with a high efficiency unit and a solar water heater was installed. All the original single pane windows and doors were replaced with energy efficient units. Additional windows were added to the main living room and the kitchen windows were enlarged to bring the glass down to the counter tops bringing in much more light, while creating a unique ‘see through’ backsplash.
Every room in the house received some degree of renovation with the kitchen, living room and primary suite receiving the most attention. The goal was to create a clean modern interior that played off all the original mid century elements. The first step in achieving this goal was to uncover the original materials of the home. At the time of purchase all of the interior was painted white. The owners sandblasted the entire interior of the house to uncover the block, wood beams, wood ceilings and wood board and batten interior walls. The board and batten material was too soft to handle the sand blasting processes and was eventually replaced with drywall. With all of the exposed wood and block, adding white drywall to the interior of the home as a board and batten replacement helped increase the amount of light that was reflected throughout the home while also acting as a neutral background material to help accentuate the recently uncovered older materials.
The living room wood burning fireplace was converted to gas and given an aesthetic upgrade using a simple stainless steel surround and bamboo pulp 3D panels. The concrete hearth of the fireplace had extensive damage so the concrete was repaired and simply painted to accentuate the other materials in the room.
A new storage area was created to separate the entry courtyard form the carport. The entry courtyard at the time of purchase was a dead space. Previous landscape attempts had failed. A new water feature was installed, limited landscape was brought in and skylights were enlarged to bring more light into the area. The restoration of the double door at the front entry was one of the highlights for the homeowners as it truly captured the essence of the original home and was simply a beautiful piece of functional art to enjoy.
The back covered patio was restored and a new deck added to create a large entertaining space. Gabion basket walls were used to raise the back grass area to help with minor flooding as well as to create fencing in the NW area of the site. The pool shape was kept but the concrete decking and patio around the pool was redone creating a series of circle patios that eventually connect to the side of the house where a large, palo verde tree shades the home from Western sun.
All the exterior metal was intentionally left to weather to blend in with the desert surroundings of home. Many of the original saguaro cactus and joshua trees that were originally planted in the early 60’s remain and are augmented with other low use plants. A desert tortoise enclosure was created as part of the side yard for a tortoise rescued through Arizona Game and Fish to reside. The tortoise feeds exclusively off the plants installed in the tortoise area.
The major mid-century elements of the house were kept. Larger open areas, large sliding glass doors, expressing the elements of the design through the exposed walls, beams and ceilings as well exposing and restoring those original materials to view. The overall form of the house was kept as well. Keeping the flat and low sloped roofs with glass clerestories and large cantilevered overhangs was very important to the homeowners.
The restoration of the front door is a highlight of the project. The artistry of the design is a welcoming signature of the project. Inside the cabinets are all new but by using clean lined, flat slab fronts and larger panels these elements blend well into the mid-century architecture. The furnishings inside the home are a combination of custom-made pieces by the owners, vintage furniture finds and new furniture with a modern bend.
The home creates so many individual spaces inside and out. Although the home is only 2400 sf it feels so much larger with how each space is developed. These many spaces add up to a design that flows from inside to outside and makes the project feel much larger than it actually is.
Exposing the original structure and original materials is at the heart of the project and what breathes life into the home while still keeping its midcentury design values.
Beyond the overall look and structure of the home, the renovation to the backyard, the central fireplace and the front door are the areas that are commented on most by visitors. The back yard is a modern take,
The McCalls renovation project faced many challenges that are common to any mid-century renovation project. Through out the design process there is a constant battle of trying to make spaces larger, more open and taller to accommodate a modern family’s lifestyle while balancing those wants with keeping the character and architecture of the home. Building the storage element between the carport and the front entry was a direct response to finding a way to gain more square footage for storage and workspace needs while not noticeably altering the architecture of the home.
The primary suite closet addition was a similar situation. The primary closet was a 40 sf addition. On the surface, building an addition this small almost seemed not worth it, but functionally it made the primary suite work, gave the owners just enough closet space to fit their lifestyle, created a small sitting area for make-up and the addition was also used to bring more natural light into the primary suite. All of the new addition fit under an existing roof overhang to keep the look of the original roofline and costs low. By extending this small addition on the exterior of the home a small space for a new whole house water filtration system was created as well.
Restoring the original structure had its own challenges. Once all the original materials were sandblasted to bring the interiors back to their original state, it became obvious that the home was darker than hoped. Adding white drywall and lighting in a way to not detract from the original design elements greatly helped to lighten up the spaces, especially at night.
Budget is a concern on every project. This particular project took over a decade to complete. Much of the work was either directly completed by the homeowners or done under their direct supervision all while they lived in the house. That large amount of sweat equity greatly helped to extend the budget.
This project was lucky in terms that the original structure had not been altered too greatly. Some of it was covered up and hidden but the bones were still intact It was a huge bonus design wise and budget wise not to have to re-build any structure, instead the structure only had to be re-exposed and brought back to life. In any historical type of renovation finding projects that have not been structurally altered is a huge benefit.
When there is an element that seems like a detraction from the project, but it cannot be removed, work hard to make it a feature. The main fireplace in this home was very large and did partially close off the main living space from the dining and kitchen. Many design concepts were reviewed to open the fireplace up. Many of these ideas changed the main fireplace into a wonderful new design element but all were over budget. In the end the fireplace was left as is and simply accentuated as a major element of the home. The block walls were wrapped with a 3d panel that extended from the living space into the dining kitchen space and ended up being one of the most talked about elements of the house.
McCalls Home Renovation near Piestewa Peak, Arizona – Building Information
Architect’s Firm: Koss Design+Build – https://kossdb.com/
Project size: 2406 ft2
Site size: 15000 ft2
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 1
Photography: Andrew Jarson
McCalls Home Renovation, Piestewa Peak Arizona images / information from received 111120
Location: Piestewa Peak, Arizona, USA
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