Date a Modernist: pics, analysis and answer

palimpsestJuly 13, 2014

First, I will say that my initial impression was 1960-65-ish but heavily renovated. Heavily renovated but unchanged. So, no attempt to make it look like a time capsule with pink text patterned tile bathrooms, which even a house like this would've had then...but also not making any false steps away from "modernist".

A few pictures made me question this but I was still surprised at the actual build date. More about that in a minute. Here are the pictures that made me think 1960-65 albeit heavily renovated:

The equally divided doors and two sidelites. This seems a mid-century detail to me, but I was looking for deep backset hardware (knobs further in from the edge of the door)

This is an obvious egress window in a bedroom with ribbon windows. It seems unusual to me for it to be "right there" so I thought maybe this was added and they didn't want to interrupt the corner windows and/or couldn't put it someplace else. The tone-on-tone damask is pretty current in some ways. I bed this room was an "allover" with everything covered in it, or in the same color at least:

The heavy soffit+ the ribbon windows+ the banquet+ the cooking area on the perimeter. These all seem "not current" modernism, and I also wondered if that cooking area was where the cooktop was originally:

Everything from the ceiling down in this lower level room seems a bit old-school to me, and the wall color and the white baseboard were, to me, the only real false notes in the house:

Here are the pictures that made me wonder about when this house was built. Like Annie said, the stonework also seemed not quite 1960s.

This appears to be Venetian plaster, by the way, another odd finish in a house like this except it's mimicking filled travertine:

Linear fireplace:

I don't think this was feasible in the residential market in the 1960s:

The jutting box is pure millennial, I think:

The house was built in 2007.

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Interesting. It's an appealing house in a lot of ways.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:10PM
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I am shocked! It would be interesting to know if the owner/builder/architect/et al wanted to give mixed messages. The windows look like 1950ish windows covered over, the soffits look 1980s ish, the cabinets in that white area look like some of the "modern" homes I saw built in Southern California in the late 1980s, the lower level fireplace looks like it was once some other material, but refaced with rock. I knew homes built with redwood in the 1970s and before, but I thought that had become frowned upon since.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:29PM
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No fair hiding some of the photos! I like that glass room;l who wouldn't? Maybe i was too hasty in tossing him aside.

BTW, i still find the pinky tan damask odd. It seems to me that when people reprise MCM, they do it with a heavy hand so as to be 100% clear that it is all new and pricey. I would expect a louder colorway or maybe oversized version, etc.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:31PM
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That's what I thought! I like it even more now.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 1:43PM
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cyn427 (zone 7)

Wow. I am amazed. I haven't seen any new closet doors with those round, inset pulls in any homes built in the last 40-50 years. Had I seen that linear fireplace with floating wall above, I would have known it was this century!

Agree that the color and trim in the lower level room are not exactly right.

Also, still agree with Mtn that the damask wallpaper is quite an odd choice.

Thanks for the fun. No matter, I like this house a lot. Where is it?

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:11PM
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Very deceiving from the original front entry picture of the house. It does look tacked on to a smaller, older house. Thanks, Pal. It's nice to see things through your eyes and compare my uninformed thoughts.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 2:47PM
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Voila, you picked most of the things out that would give it away though:-).

But I don't want this to be so much about guessing right or guessing wrong. I thought this was a good example of a good representation of a particular architectural style, whether you like the house or not.

I think there is an awful lot good to be said about *not* being able to tell when a house was built (exclusive of appliances, bath fixtures and lighting technology), if it represents a particular historic style. And modernism at this point is a historic style. So, I think it's a job well done. And the aspects of personal taste like the damask--even more so. it strays from having to be so "current".

The architect of this house, as far as I can tell, is John M.Y. Lee, who worked with, and took over the practice of Edward Larrabee Barnes, and they did a lot of commercial buildings, which may explain some aspects of the execution, like the HVAC.

I believe the HVAC was partly done in this manner because of the glass area of large parts of the house.

In my modernist house, there are two walls of almost complete glass and two rooms of near end-to-end ribbon windows. As built, all the HVAC was packed into one vertical chase that was buried in the kitchen and bath complex, and one next to the fireplace.

The kitchen/bath related one was really messed up by kitchen and bath remodels. So I am redoing it, and to get it both into a functional arrangement and also avoid weird soffits, chases or other random "bumps" is proving to be difficult. The house in question probably has a lot of stuff running through floors/ceilings because of all the stone and glass as well.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 3:44PM
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Thanks! That was fun and instructional.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 6:24PM
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I'm pretty satisfied by my guess; I only missed my window by 2 years. (1989-2005) Never thought it would have been built at the very crest of the bubble.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 8:17PM
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Fascinating analysis and house. I agree with you that is it a positive not knowing for certain when a house was built, at least in this case. And I think the architect or home owner must have been nostalgic for 1960.

This post was edited by sochi on Sun, Jul 13, 14 at 23:46

    Bookmark   July 13, 2014 at 9:12PM
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This house seems to be the home-sized equivalent of making a new house (room) look like it was assembled over the years. Thanks for the instructive explanations, everyone! I was thrown by most of the pictures looking like that dated from the early 60s, with subsequent renovations in the 1980s and 2000s But I should have noticed, like some of you, that everything was too pristine.

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 3:07AM
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Well that was fun!

    Bookmark   July 14, 2014 at 5:42AM
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