It’s no secret that the California desert is home to an impressive display of midcentury architecture. Retro-loving enthusiasts descend upon the sunny region to soak in the history and glean inspiration. Enter Troy and Amy Kudlac of KUD Properties, the builders behind new homes following original Joseph Eichler blueprints. With their love of midcentury architecture and quality community, it’s no wonder they chose to settle here with their two young girls.
Located in Palm Desert, this 1964 home got a new lease on life thanks to the Kudlac family. While the original architect and builder are unknown, the couple saw the house’s intentional design and knew the three-bedroom, three-bath house had all the potential to be their forever home.
“We had been painstakingly searching for a home that met our needs for years,” Troy says. The couple had even opened escrow on another property, but it didn’t work out. “Our business puts us in front of a lot of homes, and we always have to be on the lookout—this was the first one after four years of looking that met all our requirements and that we could afford.”
“We are all for restoration—but to a point, as it can be expensive and sometimes cannot meet one’s way of living in modern times,” Troy says. Troy describes the balance of renovation and preservation as being client-specific, noting that he has worked with homeowners who have sought to get as close to original as possible and describing this as, “extensive but rewarding for the right individual.”
For their own home, Troy and Amy sought to create a happy medium. “Our preference was to be inspired by the original architect’s intent and incorporate that into our updates,” he says. Before they began construction, the couple narrowed their goals down to maximizing the home’s indoor/outdoor relationship and restoring the original architect’s intent, all while making the home as family-friendly, inviting, functional and eye-catching as possible.
The Real Nitty Gritty
“We have renovated over 20 homes in the past six years—from Krisels and Wexlers to Codys—so we’ve seen many midcentury homes, understand how they are built and know how to make updates while keeping the integrity of the original architecture,” Troy says.
“The home had a thick 1980s stucco job that we had to recoat with a smooth coat stucco with built-in color,” Troy says. They then replaced all the drywall and installed aluminum recessed baseboards.
The home also needed more intensive renovations. The Kudlacs updated all the plumbing, and every faucet, sink and toilet had to be replaced. A new HVAC system was installed, as well as new pool equipment. Electrical was no exception. They relocated and rewired many of the outlets that had been mounted on their side and at baseboard level.
“Many of the homes (on our street) have had plumbing issues, as the street is higher than the homes,” Troy says. Aware of this, the couple snaked all the underground lines but still faced issues. “Amy left the tub on one day while our family was over, thinking the overflow valve would help if it got too full. We came into the house to find the entire extra room full of 2 inches of water. Luckily, it was the only room that had tile in it, and we were able to sweep all the water out without any damage.” After that, they snaked the line again.
When Troy and Amy first bought the house, there was a wall dividing the dining area and the kitchen, creating a common midcentury galley kitchen. “The wall was framed with the 2×4’s on their sides, so it wasn’t very think, up to code or structurally sound. That wall lost its battle on day one,” Troy says. With the shaky wall torn down, the kitchen suddenly had access not only to the entire living room, but also to views of the pool and mountains.
When it came time to design the new kitchen, the couple installed simple Ikea cabinets, allowing woodgrain and color to be the stars of the design. To create an open, sleek, modern feel, they ditched the traditional upper cabinets and instead installed a few open shelves.
“The penny rounds are a favorite of ours and provide an updated mid mod feel while still adding
color and class,” Amy says. “We decided to add color under the bar area with some fun Modernica bar stools that pop off the orange.”
With the home itself back in working order, Troy and Amy got to focus on reinstating original charm as well as adding their own personal style. One of the biggest original features the couple saved is now a focal point of the living room. “We decided to keep the original rock wall fireplace, but covered a portion of it with walnut paneling, which is era specific and allowed us to hide electrical components for the TV and stereo surround sound system,” Amy says.
The walnut panel actually floats in front of the rock it covers and was custom cut to hug the rock on the facing side—meaning that none of the original rock was damaged or removed.
“The master bathroom had a built-in terrarium in the back, which was awesome, and we wanted to find a way to keep it—but it ate up a lot of space and was not functional,” Amy says. Rather than let go of desirable square footage, Troy and Amy moved forward by installing a double shower room. In place of the terrarium, a plant in a decidedly mod bullet planter pays homage.
After six months of renovations, the family was finally able to settle into their home. Now, the Kudlacs lovingly describe their home as “wunky mid mod”—warm and funky. They have since filled the home with family heirlooms, amazing vintage finds and countless personal touches.