For this week’s column, we wanted to revisit one of our most unique remodeling projects: the bungalow/loft.
While we know that such a contemporary style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, this project shows how bold and creative you can be with a home remodel and still have your home blend into the neighborhood.
From the street, this little bungalow located in Salt Lake City looks like many of the other homes in the neighborhood.
“It is very deceptive,” says Barbara, the home’s owner. “On the outside it looks just like a Sugar House bungalow, but when you walk in, it looks like a New York City loft.”
Barbara always wanted to live in a downtown loft but she has a dog. “It wouldn’t be fair,” she says. “I have a black Lab. I guess I could have walked him down to Liberty Park every day, but I like having my yard. So, I thought, why not turn my bungalow into my loft?”
And that is just what she did.
She gutted the house, removed the roof and opened up the floor plan. On the exterior, the new roof has the same pitch as the original structure, but inside the bearing walls were replaced with steel I-beams. Corrugated steel panels are now fastened to the 13-foot ceilings and all the floors are exposed concrete.
“Everything is metal and glass,” she says. “It is an extremely industrial/contemporary design.”
Glass garage doors open two adjacent walls to the outside patio — one opening from the kitchen and one from the bedroom.
With these unique garage doors, the patio becomes an extension of the house and a perfect entertaining area.
“The idea for the garage doors really inspired the rest of the remodel,” Barbara says. “I saw the idea in Dwell magazine years before, and knew I had to have that in my house someday. From there we pretty much skyrocketed.”
Barbara says she has no disappointments or regrets.
“This is exactly how I envisioned it,” she says. “It was my little creation. And with the teamwork between the builder, my architect and myself, I created my dream house.”
Barbara was a decisive client who knew what she wanted when she walked into our office.
“I knew what I wanted because I had done years of research online and in books and magazines,” she says. “But an architect comes with a lot of knowledge, education and expertise that adds a lot to a project. Mine clearly came up with ideas related to space that I couldn’t see.”
Barbara’s transformed house exemplifies many architectural principles that relate to principles of good design, such as space, light and order.
There is a strong feeling of three-dimensional space in her house due to her choice to vault the entire ceiling. Barbara also splurged in choosing to use steel beams when wood beams would have worked structurally, because the steel adds to the aesthetic she wanted.
Light is another critical element in her home. Because of the urban setting on a narrow lot, glass block was used in the windows on the side walls. The window openings were enlarged on the south side, so light pours in generously without having the feeling that the neighbors are looking in. She added several large, clear skylights that save the metal roof panels from feeling oppressive, allowing sun to stream into the middle of the home.
Order is evident in Barbara’s home in the clean, exposed structure, as well as the built-in cabinetry. You get a feeling that everything has a place; the lack of clutter gives a feeling of peace and serenity.
Barbara made every decision intentionally so all the details and finishes add to the total loft look. The hardware on the sliding glass doors, the kitchen faucet, the concrete countertops and the sleek tile in the bathroom all fit the overall theme.
She left nothing to chance. And she didn’t stop at the back (garage) door: The patio has the same concrete floor as the interior of the home, and the furnishings, light fixtures and small fountain all blend seamlessly with the interior design.
Barbara splurged on some items, but balanced this out with killer shopping skills in other areas.
After receiving a $9,000 bid for a sail cloth roof for the patio from a local company, she got busy on the Internet and found the sails for $200. Not faint of heart, she recruited her brother and the two of them figured out how to hang the sails, which resulted in an area that functions as another room in her house.
Barbara sums up her project this way: “It is definitely not for everyone, but I love it and I think people at least appreciate it for what it is.”
Project update: Two years later, Barbara is still thrilled with her home. The amazed look of guests when they enter her “bungalow” never gets old. Frankie (the black Lab that inspired the project in the first place) has passed on, but Archie (Barbara’s new yellow Lab) is now benefitting from living in a loft with a yard. Moral of the story: Being true to your own vision and good design are timeless principles that will never go out of style.
Architects Ann Robinson and Annie V Schwemmer are the founders of Renovation Design Group, www.renovationdesigngroup.com, a local design firm specializing in home remodels. They welcome your home design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.