Fraught with at least a dozen broken windows and a gut-able interior, this classic Cliff May home in Long Beach, California, had only one thing going for it: The structure was still intact. While fixing some smaller damage, such as rotting exposed beam ends and cracks in the siding seams, Southern California real estate agents Doug and Rochelle Kramer uncovered a game-changing surprise.
“We were delighted when we opened one wall to find an original full-length Cliff May window in excellent condition,” Doug says. “We naturally opened that area completely to bring back the original look and the natural light.” But while letting in more light was a plus, it increased the need for more privacy. That’s when the Kramers called up a contractor for the perfect entryway: a redwood fence.
Using classic horizontal redwood boards, Doug and Rochelle had the front yard and driveway enclosed by a perfectly period fence with a few modern upgrades, such as a rolling glass driveway gate. Deciding to add or change something so significant on a period home is not always simple, especially when you’re on a budget. “The addition of the fence was a significant undertaking, but it was a logical addition because it enhanced the use, privacy and enjoyment of the lot and it created a dramatic street presence,” Doug says. “When adding something substantial like a fence, it is obviously recommended that one check with the local building department for setback allowances and other guidelines, as that is an expense you don’t want to incur twice.”
With a few more additions, such as transforming a full-length window into a set of custom Cliff May appropriate glass doors into the yard, the house was complete. From there, it took fresh paint, new landscaping and some TLC to bring this home back to life. To hear him say it, Doug believes that—apart from any major overhauls—the little things can work magic. “The right paint colors and finishes do wonders, as does tasteful landscaping,” he says. “The installation of well-designed lighting and fixtures, such as house numbers and a modern mailbox, can add a lot. And, if one is especially handy, the addition of accents—whether they be block, wood or another material—can be especially effective.”