For the past 11 years, artist D. J. Hall and her husband, architect Toby Watson, have lived in this house fronting upon a Venice canal. The two have seen photographs of their neighborhood and house dating from the mid-1920s, but they're still not sure of the house's exact age. "In those pictures, the house was a flat-roofed stucco structure with Spanish overtones," Watson says. "Some years later, the stucco was replaced with wood siding, and the roof was given the gabled pitch it has now."
Before Hall and Watson remodeled it six years ago, the two-bedroom house had only 700 square feet of living space. In remodeling, they added 300 square feet (including an upstairs bedroom and bath), reinsulated and reworked all interior wall surfaces, and converted their water heater and furnace to solar power. The result is a more spacious and functional living and working arrangement plus a natural-gas bill that averages between $5 and $10 a month.
Watson not only designed the addition but also served as contractor. "My concerns as an architect are basically those of a modernist," he says. "But since we were working on an older home in a historic area, we felt compelled to retain the basic exterior appearance of the structure while using modern design principles and details on the inside--just simple shapes, clean white surfaces, no frills."