Pro Portfolio: Traditional Burbank home gets a hip, modern makeover


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Each Monday, we post a new home whose design is described in the architect’s or designer’s own words. This week:

Building and landscape design: ras-a, Redondo Beach


Construction: Libiano Construction, Redondo Beach

Landscape installation: 1 Sunny Landscape, (818) 266-5724

Project location: Burbank

Project goal: The client contacted me asking, ‘Can you make this house ‘my home’ on an Ikea budget?’ The house in question was a two-bedroom, one-bath home originally built in 1939 with a small guest house and detached garage constructed a few years later.

Designer’s description: The cost-conscious solution was to give the modest home a modern, eco-friendly makeover without building additional square footage. The new design removes the majority of interior walls, and that creates an open living-kitchen-dining area that spills out to a large covered patio in the backyard. At the rear of the property, the guest house-turned-yoga studio, along with the detached garage, frame a courtyard with the main house. This courtyard acts as an outdoor living space, makes the modest-sized house feel a lot larger and takes advantage of the Southern California climate.

Lawn was replaced with xeriscape in the front and courtyard areas. LED and compact-fluorescent lighting was used throughout along with Energy Star appliances and on-demand water heaters. The building envelope was retrofitted with insulation, and the windows were replaced with energy-efficient glass that meets strict California energy codes.

At right, the house as it looked before the remodel. Keep reading for more details and project photos ...

An open skylight was framed into the revised roofline, letting in daylight for a future cordyline garden to be planted off the front patio. Turf grid pavers filled with gravel replaced the old concrete driveway. This allows rainwater to percolate into the ground instead of washing driveway pollutants into the storm drains and ultimately the ocean.


In the courtyard, a gravel patio and low-water planting replaced lawn.

The original guest house already had some interesting architectural qualities. One of the few modifications to its exterior was to trim off the bottom ends of the ‘dog ear’ siding, visible in the ‘before’ photo above the window.

In the kitchen, a Blu Dot dining table serves double duty as an island. To achieve the look of high-end custom cabinetry, custom end panels were created for Ikea cabinets. The money saved by using Ikea cabinets allowed the client to afford more pricey fixtures and appliances as well as Caesarstone countertops.

Recessed, operable skylights flood the house with diffused natural light while letting warmer air rise and escape to the outside.

A 12-foot-long LaCantina bi-folding door opens up the house to the outdoor living space.The pebble flooring, by Stone Creations in Ontario, is composed of small pebbles mixed with a resin and then spread over the subfloor like a giant Rice Krispies treat.

A bathroom was added just off of the kitchen, where a pantry and the old hot water tank were.

A built-in wardrobe cabinet replaces a typical closet in the small master bedroom.

A clerestory window above the vanity allows daylight from the adjacent bedroom to flow into the master bathroom, giving it a more open feel.

The remodeled house at dusk.

-- Lisa Boone

Photo credits: Roel Kuiper

CORRECTED: An earlier version of this post called ras-a an architecture firm. It is a building design studio.


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