Modernism and the hunt for a midcentury modern home lured Alex and Kristin from St. Louis to the Santa Monica Mountains, setting them off on a renovating adventure. They had lost out on several homes during what turned out to be an eight-year house hunt, but when they finally struck gold, it was thanks in large part to Alex and Kristin’s shared love for midcentury modern, as well as their desire to restore it.
Through a friendship with architect Cory Buckner, Alex beat out developers for a 2,000-square-foot model designed by A. Quincy Jones and built for Madeleine and Louis Schneidman. Although the developers offered $250,000 more, they only wanted it for the lot value, and the late owners’ daughter didn’t want to see her childhood home torn down—a too-common occurrence in the area.
“The original owner lived in the house until she passed away in her late 90s,” says fellow Crestwood Hills resident, Buckner. “Nothing had been done to the house for decades, and the work that it needed was daunting. As Alex and Kristin peeled away the layers of paint and painful additions, they not only became fascinated with the original intent of the community and architecture, but were awed and humbled by the sheer beauty of what they had purchased.”
The year after it was built, a 350-square-foot bedroom and bath were added near the front door. Post-and-steel beam construction, a multilevel hillside lot and original features like an accordion door between a bedroom and the living room made the residence highly unique.
Another was the separate au pair quarters attached to the carport; this was one of the spaces where Alex and Kristin lived during the top-to-bottom renovation.
“For the first half of fixing up the house, I was so excited to wake up at the crack of dawn and start sanding something,” Alex says with a laugh. “We had the roof off for weeks while we solved electrical arcing problems, and one morning we woke up with rain pouring down on us [through the ceiling boards]. I dug an 80′ trench to bury the electrical, but only the Department of Water and Power can move the service lines. Then, when high winds took out the existing power, they pushed our job back two months.”
“I lived through Alex’s second renovation [in St. Louis] and slept on the floor for a year,” Kristin says. “We’re both history buffs, so it was our passion to bring back a house like this. It was Alex, mostly, but it was also me behind him pushing to get things perfect.”
The Quest to Restore Perfection
In part 2, the pursuit of perfection leads to ordering a fridge from England and using a power washer…inside the house.