Laurel Canyon house renovation


This budget-conscious green renovation of a 1960’s Laurel Canyon 2-story “bungalow on stilts” presented many constraints and opportunities. The goals of the renovation were to update the spaces and flow to ones more suited to a contemporary family. This included brightening the spaces (the house previously had both dark finishes and as well as being heavily shaded) and “greening”
the house as much as possible within the financial limitations of a projected six year ownership. All improvements (the house needed extensive updates beginning with the fact that it was completely uninsulated) had to either pay for themselves within six years or recover their value in resale.


Given that adding floor space was out of the question, the renovation became, by default, an exercise in designing the “Not So Big House.” Downstairs on the main
level, priority was given to opening up the flow of space, freeing the kitchen from a dark niche and annexing the adjacent family room and dining area into a loft-like cooking, eating and gathering space. The original formal living room became a more frequently inhabited living area with a home office off to one side providing a new connection between it and the kitchen. Topologically, the layout went from a dark and dead-ended “U” to a doughnut in which all spaces had light, ventilation and circulation from at least two directions.


Windows were added or enlarged, increasing natural light as well improving the exterior design of the house. Green materials included bamboo cabinets and flooring and recycled aluminum tile. Lighting was replaced or added to exceed California code. Solar thermal panels were installed to heat the the pool.

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