The block divider in the bedroom was freed of drywall, and the curved wall behind the bed surfaced with new old-stock Formica. Additional sound privacy is achieved with the glass clerestory above the walnut wall without sacrificing light in the adjacent room. Note the round heating outlets in the ceiling.

Once previous owner Stanley Goodrich retired to Palm Springs, the 1964 circular Horizon House designed by George Bissell in Laguna Niguel, Calif., (part 1) went on the market for lucky architecture aficionados to find. Enter Pat Gough and Einar Johnson and commence the unique renovation of the Horizon House.
Johnson, who works in aerospace sales, and Gough, a wholesale clothing importer, live in a Ray Kappe home in the Hollywood Hills, but they were looking for a coastal getaway, albeit not your typical multimillion-dollar beachshack-turned-McWeekender.

This is the only house that popped up when you Googled ‘architecture’ and ‘Orange County,’ ” says Johnson. “As soon as I saw it, I decided I was going to have that house if it was available. It was the most interesting thing we saw. It was in a good location and the right size for a second home; it was perfect.”

The couple immediately wanted to ratchet up the perfection by taking the house back to its roots. The window shutters came down and the carpet came up just as soon as escrow closed. With Gough serving as project manager, a six-week renovation was kicked into gear. Removing the black kitchen floor tile and grinding and polishing the concrete slab took two weeks alone.

“The concrete contractor said he couldn’t promise what it would look like,” she explains. “He said it’s going to have moods, shading, some spots we can’t get out, but that didn’t really bother us. Because it was an experimental concrete house, we thought it would be cool to expose the floors—that’s the whole premise of the house.”

1964 George Bissell Horizon House interior unique renovation
The diminutive den, which is separated from the living/dining area by the vertical block wall behind the bar (previous spread), was given a doorway by another homeowner hoping to sell the unusual house as a two-bedroom. The boxy niche holding the dried plant arrangements is one of the closets due to be returned to glazing in the next renovation.

In the kitchen, the crew did some investigation and discovered walnut-patterned Formica under the turquoise and white paint. That helped set the tone for the renovation: “Whenever in doubt, go original” is Johnson’s motto.

While paint stripper immediately bubbled up the paint and was quickly bladed off, not all of the Formica survived the architectural archaeology of the home’s unique renovation. Partition walls in the kitchen and master bedroom had to be resurfaced, and new doors made for the kitchen cabinets. Gough tracked down 15 sheets of the discontinued walnut color laminate warehoused in St. Louis and had them shipped out, keeping the excess in storage for future use.

The home’s cement block walls had been covered with plywood and drywall prior to Goodrich’s tenure, or in the case of the kitchen, faced with thin faux bricks; the crew spent much time bringing the block back to close-to-original condition. “Once they popped off the decorative brick in the kitchen, they had to take a chisel and go down the lines of the cement block and tap out the excess mortar,” explains Gough. “That took two guys two weeks to do.”

Find out how the fine-tuning of such a unique house continues in Part 3.