1905 cottage in Santa Monica
The 1905 cottage in Santa Monica. Douglas Hill, original photo on Houzz

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It was a tall order. This young family wanted to find a home in Santa Monica that embodied the historic homes of Boston, where the husband grew up, and the outdoors of Oregon, where the wife is from. They lucked out with a well-kept historic cottage that just needed some tweaking to support their active family life.

They tapped architect Lewin Wertheimer from nearby Venice to refresh much of the house.

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Houzz at a Glance

  • Who lives here: He’s in the entertainment-management industry; after a career in environmental policy, she’s now a stay-at-home mom to 2 young boys
  • Location: Santa Monica
  • Size: 2,820 square feet; 3 bedrooms, 2½ bathrooms

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BEFORE: The 1905 cottage was in good shape. “Most of the home’s original details, which I would call post-Victorian and pre-Craftsman, were still intact,” Wertheimer says. “Although the house is historic, it didn’t have landmark status, so we were able to update it without restrictions.” What Defines Your Craftsman House?

The home’s original magenta exterior inspired its name, Villa Rosa, which is written on a sign hanging on the entry arbor. “Even though we changed the color of the house,” says Wertheimer, “we kept the arbor and the sign.”

AFTER: Landscape designer Mary Effron refreshed the home’s front yard with new plantings and a brick walkway. Wertheimer rebuilt the porch steps and railing. He also chose the new exterior color for its chameleon-like quality. “It’s a grayed blue-green that changes color during the day,” he says.

Exterior paint: Sea Pine, Benjamin Moore; trim paint: Whisper, Dunn-Edwards

Most of the home’s original millwork was intact and well maintained, and appealed to both the homeowners and the architect.

The original Douglas fir floors throughout the house were refinished.

Interior designer Sasha Emerson warmed the interior with a mix of the couple’s existing furnishings, new traditional-style pieces and vintage finds, all done in finishes and fabrics that could withstand the rigors of childhood.

BEFORE: Built-in cabinets separate the cozy study from the small sunroom that overlooks the front yard.

AFTER: The study was updated with a new built-in bookcase to the left of the fireplace, which was repainted a charcoal gray (it was originally white) for visual punch. The light fixture is a vintage find. “The original cove ceilings and built-ins give this house so much architectural character,” Wertheimer says. “Everything new was inspired by what was there.”

Sunroom chairs: HD Buttercup; shade fabric: Hollywood at Home; cushions: Acapillow Home Furnishings

BEFORE: The dining room included a bay window and window seat, but the doorway led to a porch that was too small for any use.

AFTER: The refreshed dining room now opens to a new breakfast room that’s part of the kitchen expansion at the back of the house. The owners’ original chairs were updated with red leather upholstery.

The original small porch was enclosed to become part of the new breakfast room that opens to the back yard. New custom windows and doors work with the home’s 1905 architecture, while the vintage pendants and painted pale turquoise floor are playful touches.

Table: Big Daddy’s Antiques; shade fabric: Raoul Textiles; cushions: Acapillow Home Furnishings

BEFORE: The old kitchen, while obviously updated in recent decades, was inefficient and part of a warren of small rooms at the back of the house that included a full bath and laundry.

AFTER: Working within the home’s footprint, Wertheimer reorganized the floor plan to create a more expansive kitchen, a new breakfast room, a laundry and a powder room instead of the full bath. He also opened the back of the house to the garden through the use of windows and doors. “This couple loves to cook, so the kitchen had to be the center of the universe,” he says.

Shaker-style custom cabinetry, honed basaltina and marble countertops, and vintage-style pendants add the comfortable patina of age to the new kitchen. The furniture-style island keeps the narrow kitchen from looking cramped. Spice Up a Traditional Design With These Kitchen Decorating Ideas.

Range: Wolf; pendant lighting: One Kings Lane; ceiling lights: Rejuvenation

BEFORE: The master bedroom had two small closets that ate up floor space and low ceilings that added to a sense of confinement.

AFTER: Wertheimer raised the ceilings in all three bedrooms, adding a much-needed sense of volume. In the master bedroom, he also removed the two small closets, creating space for a sitting area. The bed and sofa are custom designs.

Chair: HD Buttercup; coffee table: Big Daddy’s Antiques; rug: Serena & Lily; shade fabric: Hollywood at Home; sconces: Olde Good Things; pendant light: Design Mix Furniture

One bathroom originally served the three upstairs bedrooms. The architect persuaded the homeowners to add a master bath and closet, building out above the kitchen.

Period plumbing fixtures, Shaker-style custom cabinetry, marble countertops and blue limestone flooring with a sandblasted finish work together to create a harmonious retreat that overlooks the backyard. The pendants are a vintage find. Shower and Bathtub Faucet Sets in Every Finish.

Tub: Sunrise Specialty; sink: Kallista Plumbing; faucets: Newport Brass; medicine cabinet: Barbara Barry; wall-mounted light fixtures: Olde Good Things; flooring: Classic Tile & Flooring

A new gable at the back of the house matches the home’s original architecture and houses the newly built master bath and closet. The pergola and brick patio are also new additions, creating outdoor living and dining areas off the kitchen.

Table: Olde Good Things; dining chairs: Design Mix Furniture

Interior design: Sasha Emerson Design
Landscape design: Mary Effron Landscape Design
Builder: Campbell Contractors, Los Angeles

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