After moving from their Victorian home in Chelsea, finding their 1952 Zook in sunny Southern California (part 1) and got off to a bumpy start on the renovation (part 2), Jay and Julienne tell how they saw the process through to its rewarding completion, and all of the midcentury details they tackled along the way.
Jay: “Julienne had had a vision of her ideal bathroom for many years, and this was her chance to finally realize it. We put in a huge glass slider by the oval bathtub, and have glass everywhere else in the room, including two skylights in the roof. We built both indoor and outdoor showers so that in the summer we could shower outside. There’s also a stone planter wall for privacy from the driveway, and everywhere you look, you are surrounded by nature and greenery.
“Next, we tackled the brick used as a low wall on the path to the front door and on the fireplace and chimney. Unfortunately it wasn’t the nice stacked brick used in all the other Zook houses on the street, but used brick that was staggered and belonged in a colonial home, not this modern one. We faced these areas with the same Palos Verdes–style stone we used in the bath planter wall. An English friend probably put it best when he saw the new stone-clad fireplace: ‘Hey; now it really looks like the Flintstones’ pad!'”
Julienne: “We also wanted a 1950s kidney-shaped swimming pool with a Jacuzzi, fire pit and seating area: The views were stunning from our little hill, and a pool would just enhance that. Then we proceeded with cutting down numerous trees and long overgrown hedges and shrubs that were blighting the views and openness that was the original idea of the house. Two were huge ash trees, and we felt bad doing it, but their roots were starting to push into the foundation and having them loom over the house was not a good idea in a high-risk brush fire zone. We landscaped nearly all of the property with the succulents and tropical plants we had been dreaming about for years in London—it seemed to suit the property so much more.”
Jay: “The only items we’d bought from London with us were our bed, a cherry wood chest of drawers, our collection of Vladimir Tretchikoff paintings and several tiki carvings. Over the months of the build, we began checking out swap meets, vintage furniture stores and, of course, eBay to find the other pieces we needed.
“Our best find had to be the set of vintage Cherner dining chairs at a local midcentury store. We loved their Jetsons-styling so much that we purchased the matching surfboard-shaped dining table that Cherner’s son designed a few years ago. After that we found an original Knoll Saarinen Womb Chair at a very reasonable price on eBay; even after reupholstering, it still worked out a lot cheaper than buying a new one.
“For the kitchen, we loved the look of the Knoll Saarinen Tulip table set that a lot of midcentury modern homes feature, but, as price was an issue, we settled for IKEA’s equivalent of the table and new Calligaris Jam chairs to accompany it. A reissued Noguchi coffee table and a new International sofa from Futurama made up our major purchases, and we now feel the house’s interior definitely has a 1962 feel to it. It took two years of blood, sweat and tears (and a favourable sterling/dollar rate), but despite all the trouble we had with the house in the beginning, it has definitely been worth it. We have created our midcentury dream home and hope to stay here for many years to come.”