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The Designers Are In: Expert Tips from Remodeling Pros


The Designers Are In: Expert Tips from Remodeling Pros

January 19, 2013

In two years, Sam Gnatovich and Alexi Rennalls of LA firm Simo Design have completed 11 remodels (including five that they purchased, renovated, and resold). This week, they tell us why this California Craftsman bungalow remodel was one of their favorites. For the next 48 hours, they are available to answer any and all questions. Ask away!

With a background in architecture (him) and fashion (her), the founding partners of Simo Design (a member of the Remodelista Architect/Designer Directory) are very selective when it comes to purchasing houses for remodel. For them, it’s about good bones and character. “We’re not interested in gutting a house and starting over; we want to feel like the house has always been there,” says Gnatovich. “We like to draw out its personality, enhancing what already exists while updating it for 21st-century living.”

Photography by Joe Schmelzer.

Above: “With our limited remodel budget, paint was our solution for making the most dramatic impact in a small house,” says Rennalls.

Above: Glazed tiles are in keeping with the California Craftsman style.

Above: “Color can make a small house feel more grand,” says Rennalls.

Above: The dining room and the office open up onto the covered porch. The brick wall and wood panels have been painted white to keep the room open and light.

Above: The small bedrooms were devoid of character. “We felt that there was nowhere for the eye to go, so we decided to put contrast into the room by painting the ceiling,” says Rennalls. The ceilings originally had a stucco plaster finish, which the designers covered with a quarter-inch thin dry wall board.

Above: Built-in storage was added to all the bedrooms.

Above: The small bathroom benefits from Rennall’s dramatic impact color theory.

Above: Rennalls uses black as a contrasting accent to good effect.

Above: All finishes were new, except the 100-year-old quarter sawn red oak floors.

Above: The designers tidied up an outdoor room, original to the house, by trimming the overgrown vines, repairing and painting the roof. “It’s dark and cool back here in the heat of the summer,” says Gnatovich.

Above: The entry hall of the house before the remodel.

Above: “It’s difficult to put character back into a house once it’s gone,” says Gnatovich.

Above: The California Craftsman bungalow was built in 1920 and is located in a Historical Preservation Overlay Zone in Hollwood Groves.

Above: The ‘Before’ and ‘After’ floor plans illustrate the good bones of the house. The minor changes that were made included combining the dining room and living room spaces by removing a wall, using existing closet space to add an additional bathroom, enlarging the original master bathroom, updating the appliances in the utility room and in the kitchen and adding a rear deck.

N.B.: Inspired by Rennalls’ creative use of paint? See 338 back posts of Paint.

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