Home Improvement : Houston Tract Home Updated for the '80s

It's no secret that the millions of tract houses built after World War II are the nation's most plentiful housing stock. The relatively few renovated Victorian and other period houses have gotten most of the media attention, but those houses that returning GI's bought for little or nothing down have a far greater potential--if only because there are so many of them.

Recognizing this, Metropolitan Home magazine bought a typical 1950s tract home in Houston, site of the recent convention of the National Assn. of Home Builders, and transformed it into a showplace. The house was featured in the magazine's February, 1985, issue.

The house is fairly large--2,400 square feet--but the floor plan wasted the space, lacked a sense of drama or discovery and was just full of the blahs, according to Dorothy Kalins, the magazine's editor.

With the help of Houston architect Val Glitsch and Houston contractor Bill Martin, the editors removed two interior walls, added a skylight to bring light into the dark interior, replaced carpeting with tile, added columns that flank the entrances to the living and dining rooms, replaced the oak kitchen cabinets with up-to-date laminate-clad units and freshened the exterior with new stucco and paint, concrete block planters and larger windows.

What I like about the house for Californians is that it's typical of what we have here. This is not always the case with many of the homes featured in so many national magazines (regional publications like Sunset are much better for renovation ideas). The ideas can be used with little or no change in hundreds of thousands of our tract homes. The article is worth looking up.

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