In the 1950s, Donald Wexler designed a series of seven steel homes (part 1) intended for mass production. The project never came to fruition, but lucky homeowners have been able to acquire the original model homes in Palm Springs, California. Brian McGuire is one of them who can enjoy living in classic midcentury architecture.
“I had an amateur interest in architecture for years and wanted a vintage house and a home in the desert,” Brian says. “It all came together with this house.” He had started to look for a midcentury vacation home in 1999, and was finally able to score the Wexler flat-roof steel model in 2005, four years after it had seen a major renovation.
“I don’t know how badly it had been modified, but I do know the kitchen had been heavily altered,” he says. The homeowner who renovated it went to great lengths to bring the structure back to its roots. Several of the features such as the cabinets and interior walls were irreplaceable, but the new replicas look like the originals. “It would take an expert to know it’s not original,” Brian says.
The renovation brought terrazzo tile floors to the home, which were not original to this structure but to one of the other steel models down the street. When he bought the home, Brian redid the pool in the backyard, which had received a pebble finish in the ’90s. Instead, Brian replaced it with the traditional white plaster and turquoise tile.
“Renovation is a process of subtraction: you’re basically stripping off all the horrible additions and alterations that have been made,” Brian says. “Luckily, it’s hard to alter an all-steel house. You can cover it up with a layer of something else, but short of tearing it down, there’s not a whole lot you can do with it.”
Stay tuned to find out more about Brian’s remodel in Part 3!