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San Diego Home/Garden Magazine - February 2004
Home updated with spirit intact

La Jolla RemodelArchitect Dan Sehlhorst's clients adored their 1959 La Jolla view home that was designed in the straightforward International architectural style, noted for strong horizontal lines, glass walls and sparse ornamentation.

"But the infrastructure was worn out, and they wanted to bring it up to date while keeping the spirit of the architecture," Sehlhorst says.

"They weren't looking for more square footage."

The clients gave Sehlhorst their wish list and left him alone. The architect stylishly brought the modern house up to date and code while enhancing its relatioinship to the garden and preserving its classic lines.

La Jolla Remodel"The homeowner works for a technology firm and travels a lot," Sehlhorst said. "He and his wife lived in China on a business project the entire eight months it took to finish the project. They showed a lot of confidence."

The biggest structural change in the remodel was relocating the front door and creating a glass-sided atrium entry that opened up ocean views that had been blocked by solid walls.

Sehlhorst also added a laundry room in the back, but the footprint of the 2,300-square-foot home remained otherwise intact.

To improve the indoor/outdoor flow, Sehlhorst added new interior glass window walls that open to an expansive radial-edge teak deck to create an area to enjoy the sweeping view of the Pacific. The deck, with a nearly transparent cable rail system, supplanted a narrow horizontal grill that looked neither inviting nor safe.

La Jolla Remodel"It was not really functional," Sehlhorst says. "It probably was done to reinforce the horizontal lines."

The deck's curves offset the house's rectilinear shape and help it integrate with the environment outside.

The homeowners returned home several times to monitor progress on the remodel.

"The teak windows out front convinced them that teak was the way to go throughout," Sehlhorst says.

"We tried to maintain the horizontal lines, which are a trademark of International design, but the teak also provided warmth, scale and pattern in much the same way ('50's Modern designer) Charles Eames would break up windows."

The original window frames butted up to a series of 2-by-4s that held up the roof. To give the structure integrity, Sehlhorst retrofitted with steel roof supports.

La Jolla RemodelAlso in the remodel, the carport was converted to a garage.

"We took the house back to the studs and put in all new infrastructure, including drywall, electrical, plumbing, bathrooms, kitchen and finishes," the architect says.

Bamboo floors replace linoleum in the kitchen and carpeting in the living and dining rooms. The kitchen's laminate counters were replaced with slate and the two baths received total makeovers with tile.

Jurors' comments:

"This project is respectful of the existing house. A very successful renovation that enhances the original house, capturing the character and intent of this modern house." - Taal Safdie.

"He maintained the spirit of a wonderful International-style home. Taking a shower there must be a wonderful experience." - Pamela Magnus.

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