A Hardy House, Pt. 1: Preserving Midcentury Style at All Costs
The phrase “History repeats itself” often has a negative connotation; but when Lisa and Steve Harding entered this modest-sized, quintessential atomic ranch home for the first time, they were eager to repeat history—all the while preserving midcentury style—1,864 square feet at a time.
Nestled in a North Tustin, California, neighborhood established in 1953, the home was weathered by the years—still, an obvious pride-of-ownership elevated the home into something special. From the intact and well-maintained, 62-year-old scallop-edged garage door, to the thickly painted floral medallion affixed to the original front door, to the stellar condition of the wood floors, nothing in this home could be considered run-down.
The Hardings graciously took the reins from the original owners, hoping to return the home to its glory days by restoring the old, adding modern amenities, and calling it home. Lisa and Steve are no strangers to Midcentury Modern remodels. With two properties in Palm Springs under their belts, they knew that a well-laid plan was essential. The Tustin home required more do-it-yourself labor, which at times amplified the “Why?” in D-I-Y. Steve’s forte encompasses structural-foundation issues, while Lisa’s vision for the property guides décor, style, color choices and overall historical preservation.
“We were drawn to the original wood floors, paneling, the turquoise-tiled bathroom, the ‘Mamie Eisenhower pink’ bathroom and even the charming- yet-drafty double-hung windows,” Lisa says. Kitchen updates in the late ’70s and early ’80s made for a muddled mess that seemingly came straight from the set of The Merv Griffin Show, so it had to go. “Every surface edge was rounded: cabinets, countertops, as well as vertical and horizontal wall joints— which we chiseled out and returned to 90-degree angles.”
Raised foundations allow certain rewards—especially when it comes to saving pink bathrooms. Venturing into the extremely crowded crawlspace, Steve soon discovered plumbing problems that had gone undetected for years and were underestimated during the escrow inspection.” Our bathroom adventure started with the first plumber’s ridiculous estimate of $4500. They wanted to tear everything out and even demolish some stucco. Certain plumbers ‘remove and replace’ rather than fix,” Steve said.
This was Lisa’s first call-to-action for preservation. If the recommended work were to be executed, the pink shower would be destroyed.“ Mamie Eisenhower would have flipped out, and so would I, if that vintage pink shower went bye-bye. We had to do something,” Lisa said.
Preserving Midcentury Appeal, but Losing the Pink?
by Anne Kruse
Photography by Jim Brown