Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Remodels R' Us

Close to what our duplex on South Bedford Drive, BH looked like in the late 1960's

The more I look at old photos in my folks' albums, the more I become aware that I want to go back to the architecture and design of my childhood in the late 1950's and 1960's.  I'm obsessed with the Hollywood Regency style of architecture.  Now I know why.  My Dad was obsessed with this style too.  I inherited his obsession.  My Dad took countless photos of tall doors, mansard roofs, elongated arches, colonnades  and manicured cypress trees from around the world.  Almost every building that he could re-model (duplexes, houses, office buildings) were changed to mirror a version of this style. Dad also admired the Italian Renaissance style, which consisted of a simple exterior, tall doors and windows, a few arches and a flat roof.  This style morphed into a modern Regency style in his drawings and home remodels.  
Dad's office on Venice Blvd. near La Cienega, L.A., approx. 1956.  Notice the tall doors and extended paint job around the doors to mimic the Regency style
S. Charles Lee Regency Office Building on Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 1930s

When I was a kid, we used to drive around town and Dad would point out these various architectural styles to me.  I just wanted to live in a ranch-style house with a pool like our friends in Encino!
Living in Beverly Hills, our lots were of a different, more old-fashioned configuration than the newer tract lots elsewhere.  Our land was narrow and deep, more so than the typical 50's tract lot out in the Valley.  Our garages were in the back of the house, not in the front like a rancher home.  In order to modernize and update our various homes, Dad usually looked to this modern version of the Regency style.  It was everywhere around L.A. and Hollywood during those days.  It didn't take much to transform a 1930's Spanish Revival building into a 1960's Regency.  I've written about this several times and how I'd love to remodel our little house in this manner. 
Ellen's Dream House, Los Angeles, 1962

I recently came across a few old Polaroid photos of the last duplex that my parents owned on South Bedford Drive in Beverly Hills.  This was a typical Spanish Revival style duplex with lots of tiny dark rooms.
476 South Bedford Drive, BEFORE remodel, approx. 1967
Front view, through the trees, 476 South Bedford Drive, BH

Dad did his version of Regency on this duplex by opening up the interior space and making the den, dining room and living room essentially one large area (very modern).  He closed in the front balcony, added tall windows w/extra trim and elongated doorways, removed the tiles from the roof.  The duplex was painted a mid-range gray, trimmed in white and black with coral doors and panels. There were orange and red plants in front and along the walk-way to coordinate with the coral doors.  It was a stand-out.  At night you could see the lighted chandelier through the tall windows in the two-level entryway leading up to our apartment.  Very glamorous!
476 South Bedford Drive, BH  TODAY
The duplex on Bedford Drive hasn't changed much.  The paint job is less attractive and a security gate and high hedges have been added.  A pop-out greenhouse window was added to the breakfast room and bars to the lower unit's breakfast room.  A pergola was also added to the landing on the back stairs.

In later years, we moved into a Spanish Revival home on North Hillcrest Road, also in Beverly Hills, Dad completely changed the exterior to his version of Italian Regency.  I wish I had a full photo of that house. He created a music solarium off the living room with 5 very tall windows looking out toward the street.  There was a brick walkway with pillars and more cypress trees.  This house was painted a taupe color with white trim, black wrought iron fencing and a golden oak front door.  After we sold Hillcrest Road, the house was torn down and rebuilt into a two-story traditional style home.
That was the end of Dad's remodeling career.  Mom and Dad moved to a condo in Marina del Rey and then to a condo on Palm Drive in BH.  Years ago I asked my Dad to redesign the front of our little Mid-City house.  He did a tracing paper overlay on a photo of our home, extending the entrance, adding a few more arches and leveling off the roof.  Brick and wrought iron were a major part of his mini-re-design.  I have the drawing tucked away, just in case I decide to go with this Italianate design rather than my beloved Regency.  Sigh.
Dad, in his office at the George-Paul Company, Los Angeles, 1960

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At 9:14 AM PDT, Blogger ken bloom said...

I remember so well working on the remodel of HIllcrest as well as the remodel we did at 419 So. Bedford. We tore things down to the studs and reuilt it up from there. I still have a few small scars from falling off ladders and such to remind me of those projects. Being left handed, I do some things with both hands. I remember being up on a ladder at Hillcrest and nailing some molding up with my right hand and, not wanting to have to move the ladder, just continuing on with my left. I didn't realize that Pop was watching and kind of smiled and shook his head as I did this. It didn't seem very remarkable to me. I learned so much doing those projects. A lot of these memories come back to me now as I work in my shop using a lot of the same tools we used then. Thanks Ell for posting the photos and reminding me or these wonderful memories!

At 4:20 PM PDT, Blogger ES said...

fab post!!!! and fab reply from your dad!!! so interesting!!

At 4:22 PM PDT, Blogger Ellen Bloom said...

Thanks for the comment, ES. Ken Bloom is my older brother (comment above). My Dad's name was George.


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