Case Study House #10: Mid­Century Home Restoration in Pasadena

Next up, let’s take a look at Case Study House #10. Although it wasn’t commissioned by Arts and Architecture, the house was included upon its completion in 1947 to maintain continuity in the program’s numbering system. Designed by a father and son team of architects, Kemper Nomland and Kemper Nomland Jr., the house exemplifies the low ­cost modern building design that later became a widespread trend throughout Southern California.

The architects chose to build the house on a sloping corner lot, which inspired them to create a three­level floor plan that mirrors the landscape’s gradient. This location also allowed them to play up the relationship between the structure and the environment. Spacious openings to the outside allowed the fluid layout to extend into the surrounding landscape.

At street level, the top floor contains the studio and garage, with two bedrooms and a bath on the middle floor. The lower level consists of the living room, dining room, and kitchen. In 1968, Kemper Nomland Jr. added a one­bedroom guesthouse with a bath and kitchenette.

The interior entry is near the center of the home’s longitudinal axis, which creates a physical division between the more functional spaces and private living quarters. Studio work and household chores are out of sight in the recreational space, so inhabitants can truly relax and enjoy the intimate setting in the lower levels. The living room’s position toward the rear of the house and away from street traffic added even more seclusion from outside noise, and a sliding glass partition in the dining room provided residents and guests a fantastic view of the eucalyptus trees in the natural landscape.

Case Study House #10 gained the distinction of being the only house in the program built in Pasadena, and is still standing today on a quiet stretch of San Rafael Avenue. But, although the structure remains intact, the home underwent a number of i​ll-­conceived updates ​that converted the original interior into an assault on good taste.

When the home sold in 2012 for nearly $1.6 million, interior design firm Design Vidal began work on a complete overhaul of the property that showcases Mid­Century Modern remodeling done right. And, it provides important takeaways for potential homeowners looking to take on a restoration project. Period details are what give these Mid­Century homes their charm, and successful upgrades take what the architect originally designed and extend that vision.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Erika Nomland Cilengir September 20, 2015 at 7:57 pm

    Thank you, Jane! It is always nice to see a new piece showcasing my father’s and grandfather’s legacy.

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