“I don’t think you’re ever done” – A Couple Remodels Their MCM Dream Home

Alyssa and Barnaby completed a huge remodel in their newly purchased Dean Brother’s late mid-century modern home and the results are stunning. They now can say they have their “MCM Dream Home”!  When we last met with the couple, they were in the midst of their remodel, which they began almost immediately after purchasing the house. The couple needed extra space for their growing family and home-based market research and communications consultancy.

The two had big plans for their new home and packed in an ambitious collection of projects including load-bearing wall removal, a full kitchen remodel and reconfigured entryway.

We asked Alyssa and Barnaby a few more questions post-remodel, although according to them, “for those with the patience and inclination to live through a remodel, I don’t think you’re ever done.”


BLS: What money-saving choices did you make?

Alyssa and Barnaby: Saving money for us meant knowing where and where not to spend money. We decided to spend the bulk of our money on getting “the bones” of the house correct instead of the finishes. While we fell in love with EMTEK’s line of satin brass doorknobs, we decided the addition of a laundry room was probably a better spend of the two thousand dollars.  As for money saving tips, there’s no better one than IKEA. At IKEA, you save money and still get the feeling of having bought something you would have wanted in the first place.

BLS: What features/pieces did you splurge on?

Alyssa and Barnaby: We splurged on unified wood flooring (European White Oak), custom handrails and an oversized kitchen island with waterfall edges (Caesarstone Pure White Quartz). These were big-ticket items that gave the whole house a high-end look.

BLS: Did you include any DIY projects? If so, please explain what you did.

Alyssa and Barnaby: We did all the demo ourselves because let’s face it, with a little muscle and some tolerance for filth anybody can tear up carpet, take down sheet rock and remove tile. Also, we did all the basic electrical work: replacing ceiling fans, hanging new lights, updating outlets, adding dimmers, etc. Oh, and of course we put lots of IKEA furniture together. Perhaps the easiest and least obvious DIY project we did was to paint all of our bathroom countertops with Rust-O-Leum countertop paint (white). For 50 bucks, our circa-1969 bathrooms looked brand new again.

B:S:  What do your friends and family think?

Alyssa and Barnaby: Our friends and family love it. And love it they should. We want them to enjoy it as much as we do and to feel like our home is their home away from home.

BLS:  What was the biggest lesson learned from the experience?

Alyssa and Barnaby:  Resist the urge to require a comprehensive plan from the get-go. So much of what I love most was the result of an iterative process. We didn’t know what to do until we saw certain things in progress like the entryway, the stairs, the placement of the kitchen island, the fireplace design etc. In order to afford that freedom build a buffer or margin into your budget and work with people you trust so they can help you dream without a million change orders. 

BLS:  Any future updates in mind?

Alyssa and Barnaby: A hidden Murphy bed in the library, Landscaping! (Fire pit, built-in grill, built-in seating, pool, spa, garden), Satin brass Emtek doorknobs, Remodel all 3 bathrooms (especially the master!) – steam room, Finish the garage (new sheetrock, epoxy floors, built-in shelving and storage, A big piece of original artwork for above the fireplace, Built-in shelving for the laundry room

Curious about where the couple picked up their design touches? Alyssa and Barnaby were kind enough to share some of their sources and advice with us:

Lighting – Practical Props: http://www.practicalprops.com

Satin Brass Neutra House Numbers: http://www.architecturalnumbers.com/index_23.php?catID=23&file=index.php

Satin brass outdoor lighting: http://www.remcraft.com/bullets/index.html

European White Oak Wood Floors – Monarch Plank: http://www.monarchplank.com

Custom framing for art (amazing work and prices!): http://www.yelp.com/biz/best-framing-costa-mesa-2

The IKEA Kitchen collection (spend a little extra on your own contractors for installation, just trust us!)

Paint colors:

Benjamin Moore Decorators White for the interior

Sherwin Williams Natural White for the exterior (body, trim and accents)

Farrow & Ball Mole’s Breath for the front door

All Around Lighting for square recessed light covers (these are original to the time period and are SUPER hard to find!): http://allaroundlighting.com

Everything else is from IKEA, Room & Board, Design Within Reach or something we’ve collected over the years

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